The Elephant in the Room

June 22, 2015

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporation

There are some issues that I don’t address in this book that I plan to address in later books. I am not waiting for reviews to see if someone picks up on it, but I will point it out, and talk about it briefly. It’s the elephant in the room. Ollie has an eating disorder.

It’s hinted at in several instances. He has to go in for regular weigh-ins. His doctor is always checking his vitamin levels. Will and B are always urging him to eat. Ollie has an untreated problem. Well, a partially treated problem.

There’s a common misconception that men don’t get eating disorders. Sadly, in this world of selfies and Instagram, the occurrences of young men facing eating disorders to try to look good (as the world perceives good) is growing exponentially. I directly address the issue of body dysmorphic disorder in my new adult novel Unicorns and Rainbow Poop, but in Model Citizen we’re seeing a man with pretty bad anorexia. He makes off-hand comments about himself. He forgets to eat until his friends have to threaten to hospitalize him because his weight drops so low. And he goes on binges that are often followed by purges.

Because Ollie is an adult, he has to acknowledge the problem himself before he can begin to treat it. Kade, Will, and Britney all know he has a problem. They are very careful about dancing around the issue. Kade is a little pushier, trying to get Ollie to eat, and that is not always the right thing. But just like a regular couple, it will be an issue they have to learn to work on together.

 

“Back when I was modeling and I’d see the pictures afterward and think, wow, is that really me? The hours in makeup and hundreds of poses certainly don’t feel glamorous. When I first began modeling, I was too heavy to model women’s clothing and too thin for men’s. The fame didn’t really start to sink in until people began recognizing me. And then I started dating. For a while I felt powerful and beautiful.” Jacob had crushed that.

“You don’t feel beautiful anymore?”

I shrugged. “I’ve put on more weight than I should. I still work out a lot. Cardio, watch my diet, yoga, and very minimal weight training so I don’t bulk up. But I just don’t feel like I used to.”

 

All of these things he’s doing are what is recommended to keep healthy. However, his attitude toward himself is not. Our world has propagated making people feel bad about themselves. We’re bombarded by media every second of every day with images of what we should look like and how we should lose weight. They tell us no one will love us if we don’t look a certain way. And we can’t love ourselves. So what’s left?

Kade begins to give Ollie hope. Maybe it’s okay that he’s not perfect, not skinny enough, or too feminine. Maybe, just maybe, Kade can love him the way he is and then Ollie can find a reason to love himself. I’d like to think this is Ollie’s anthem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo1VInw-SKc

We all have things we hate about ourselves. But I don’t want to hear about those. I want to know: What is the one thing you think really makes you incredible? What makes you, you?

For me, it’s this weird brain of multiple worlds and characters that is always on inside my head. Stories every second of everyday, replayed in over a thousand ways. So what makes you, you?

Thanks so much for joining me for a walk through my new release. All prizes will be chosen tomorrow so everyone has a few hours to read, think, and reply. :) Happy reading!

 

ModelCitizenFS

Booklist:

Model Citizen (DSP)

Hidden Gem (DSP)

Evolution (DSPP)

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

All the many Shades…

June 22, 2015

woman

Why would a man date a more feminine man?

I have a blog post coming up this week on The Novel Approach about the diversity in m/m romance verses real life and people’s opinion of what it should be. Long story short, people come in all shapes in sizes. Men and women. I can appreciate a pretty woman, a pretty man, a handsome man, or a handsome woman. So the question is: why would a man be attracted to a pretty man, maybe even a man who lived on the border of femininity?

Attraction is an individual thing. I can’t speak to the sexual side of it, but aesthetics are important to everyone, I think. Not so much how good-looking a person is, but whether or not they fit what we personally find appealing. I love two things about men physically: their shoulders and their eyes. For woman I find a curvy woman more appealing, and long hair (which is funny because I keep mine short). Some people love butts, some love boobs, some need muscles everywhere.

However, what we see in men in the media is pretty cookie cutter now, and just as unrealistic as the women who pretend they’re eating a burger at Carl Jr.’s. Great abs, giant arms, and defined pecs are the norm for a man, right? Short answer, no. It might be nice to look at for a while, but that body takes work to maintain. You want him to spend 18 hours a day in the gym, or maybe work to help pay the bills and then spend a little time with you instead? Isn’t that why most everyone picks the average guy? And what is average anyway? Oh, you mean the type of guys we see every day walking around us instead of on TV? Yes, that’s the average guy. So where is he in all this?

Kade is an average guy. He served his country. Got injured, came home to recover. He’s not a hardbody anymore, but he does take care of himself. He’s badly scarred and has a limp. He’s got a major Ollie kink that baffles Ollie. But Ollie has never been one to stew over a question. He asks Kade why:

“Why me? If you want a girl, you could have a girl. If you want a guy, you could have any guy. Most gay guys like guys like Will. All muscle and butch. I am not. I think if you were bi, it would make more sense.”

“I like men and all their variations. I have a difficult time finding comfort and intimacy with someone who is more like Will because he makes me think of my military years. The handful of one-offs that I snuck away to indulge in aren’t bad memories, but they aren’t great either. It was a time of hiding, not only because of the DADT laws, but because that part of the world really despises homosexuals. I heard about one guy my second year in who got caught.” Kade shook his head like the memory was still too painful to recall. “He was one of ours, but what the native people did to him…. And we left him there a few days. Wrote it off as killed in combat, which was bullshit. Hard not to associate fear, pain, and possible death with that sort of man.”

“Donovan’s not the soldier type.”

“He could be. Put him in a uniform and he’d fit in just fine. He’s not my type. The young ‘perfect’ bodies that are splashed everywhere. Is it too much to want a normal guy?”

I snorted again. “If you want normal, I ain’t it.”

“More normal than a lot. At least you’re not pretending to be butch or a super fairy just to fit a role. You are what you are.”

Second contest of the evening, for a chance to win your choice from my backlist: I think that is true attraction. Maybe even love. Just wanting someone for who they are. What do you find yourself looking for in other people? Something in their appearance? Something in their personality?

 

ModelCitizenFS

 

Booklist:

Model Citizen (DSP)

Hidden Gem (DSP)

Evolution (DSPP)

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

When is a Girl really a Boy? Does it even matter?

June 22, 2015

Genderfluidity: What is it?

StavStrashko_20150411002

You’ve probably seen this in the news a lot lately if you follow celebrity news at all. (It’s sort of hard to miss as the media crams that crap in your face.) Will Smith’s son wears dresses. So does Susan Sarandon’s son. I see this in the news and think, So? I’ve been wearing pants my whole life and I’m a girl.

Is that the difference, you think? That as a female we’re expected to dress like men just to be seen as equal (we’re still not, but that’s a whole other argument), but when men put on a dress it makes them what? Less than men? Oh right, women. That’s barely human, right?

I think it’s sort of funny that it’s even an issue. See, a couple years back, I worked with a guy who argued about the business casual dress code. He said why can women wear dresses and men can’t wear shorts? Both are showing their legs. Why is it an issue? No one had an answer. Or at least not one they were willing to vocalize.

Ollie says it very well in Model Citizen:

I sighed and ground my teeth, tempted to throw him out. “I suppose gender fluidity means nothing to you?” Of course not. Why would I think he’d looked beyond his own narrow world to discover the many different types of people who lived differently than him? I wore what I wanted, when I wanted. Clothes had enough labels and rules without adding a gender to them. “I’m sorry if who I am offends you.”

As a tomboy type of girl, I subscribe to his viewpoint. Clothes have a lot of rules, numbers, labels. I buy a lot of men’s clothing and sometimes women’s stuff too. It depends on the day and how I feel. I live in jeans or sweats and superhero T-shirts. Every once in a while, I’ll wear a dress. Why should that be any different if I were biologically a man?

I know everyone does this. They have little things they do that are considered stereotypical to the opposite sex. So I wonder why we have those stereotypes anymore? What do you do that’s not stereotypical? Is it what you do to stand out, or just be who you are? Which is more important to you?

Check out this fun little (banned) video of Stav Strashko: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD94CV7kLHE

 

 

ModelCitizenFS

 

Booklist:

Model Citizen (DSP)

Hidden Gem (DSP)

Evolution (DSPP)

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

A Silent Killer

June 22, 2015

ptsd

Serious topic here. Scary topic. PTSD—post traumatic stress disorder. We all hear about it on the news. The statistics are scary. One in three will experience it upon returning home from active duty, but less than 40% will seek help. Military personal take their own lives by the hundreds each year because of the illness. It’s very real and I’ve encountered it myself.

My brother’s best friend fought it for a couple years. I remember him before he left to serve our country. He was a good kid. Kind of goofy and had an easy smile. He always had good grades and treated people with respect. When he came home, he was no longer that goofy, smiling kid. Instead he was a very quiet, stoic man who jumped at fireworks and dogs barking. He married the first girl who would have him, but ended up divorcing her less than a year later because he would fly into uncontrollable rages caused by PTSD and the resulting lack of sleep.

He did go to rehab. I watched him struggle. I watched my brother struggle to support him though he didn’t understand at all what the problem was. We walked on eggshells for years. He’d come out of rehab and for a few months be fine, then he’d go back again. He’s remarried now and has a baby girl. They’ve found some normal in their life. But to this day that goofy, fun kid is gone. He watches the world with wary eyes and has to fight every moment of every day to control his anxiety, anger, and pain.

How many people could live with this every day without help? Why do they have to? What happens if we don’t help them? We lose them, of course. And I think one of the biggest misunderstandings about PTSD is that it only shows up in combat vets. Not true. Anyone who’s had a very traumatic experience in their life can have PTSD. Though combat is certainly among some of the worst events people can experience in their life.

“Have you spoken to a therapist?”

Kade frowned and blinked in confusion for a few moments. “About?”

“You’ve seen a lot of active combat. That changes a person. PTSD is a pretty big problem and often goes undiagnosed for years.” I looked away, feeling my heart give a warning ache again as it did any time I thought of anything related to Nathan.

“I don’t have PTSD.”

“You didn’t watch friends blown up, see children with their heads shot off, or watch militia gang rape girls too young to be considered women?”

Kade sighed. “How is any of that relevant to the job? Yes, I’ve seen some of the worst of humanity. But I’m here and still kicking.”

I flinched then shoved the papers back across the table. “Thank you for coming in, Kade. I think Will can help you find something that is a better fit for you than PHI.”

Ollie is hurt by Kade because he feels like he’s saying that Nathan just wasn’t strong enough. That’s why he died. Of course that’s not what Kade is saying. But Ollie is so traumatized by the death of his older brother that everything relates back to Nathan. And putting Kade, who survived, in Nathan’s role at PHI feels like betrayal to Ollie.

woman-hugging-man-350

Have you been touched by PTSD? Someone in your life maybe? Or yourself? Have you reached out to them just to offer some peace? An ear to listen? What more can we do to help them? Stories are pain are okay. Stories of recovery even better.

ModelCitizenFS

Booklist:

Model Citizen (DSP)

Hidden Gem (DSP)

Evolution (DSPP)

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

Redefining the Romance Hero

June 22, 2015

Demisexual_FlagLabels are everywhere. They always have been. Even back in Ancient Rome, people were labeled by class. So humanity’s obsession with labels now isn’t all that surprising. We keep breaking every little thing down into another label. Like sexuality.

It truly is a spectrum. I wonder how many romance readers actually know what some of these terms mean since most are not represented at all, like demisexuality. A person who is demisexual only feels sexual attraction for someone they care about emotionally. Much like asexuality, this doesn’t mean they can’t have sex or even that they have a low sex drive. It simply means they need an emotional bond for the act of sex to feel “right” in their own mind.

Ollie is demisexual. He’s never been the guy for casual hookups and he doesn’t get why his ex was hopping from bed to bed. So when he learned the man was cheating, he was heartbroken. Then Kade walks into his life. But Ollie knows Kade. He grew up with Kade hanging around his older brother. Kade is not a stranger. He’s a friend at least, and Ollie finds himself attracted to him. Confused and attracted to him.

demisexual

If this was Ollie’s only issue, it would have ended the story much sooner ’cause they would magically have talked out their feelings and been living happily ever after. Only that’s not how life works. Ollie doesn’t really sexually identify as anything other than gay, though his actual label would be demisexual homoromantic. But he’s young. He’s barely twenty-three, and his years of self-discovery were interrupted by the death of his brother.

Kade, however, is not nearly as young or unaware. He sees Ollie just as he is:

“I was working on this case with you until you saw the need to jump out of bed and run from the fact that you had sex with me.” (Kade)

“I didn’t run.” (Ollie)

“The hell you didn’t. We both know you don’t do casual sex, and that’s what freaks you the fuck out. I can count on one hand the number of guys you’ve taken to bed because you have to trust them first. Obviously I’m not there yet, and you feel like it’s a mistake. That’s something we should talk about. Get in the car, Ollie.”

It was a really long walk home, and I was still wearing sweats that said “princess” on the ass. I sighed and got in the truck, slamming the door extra hard just to prove he hadn’t won.

 

I think this emotional aspect of romance is more important than the sex itself. Ollie needs to face his emotions even if they hurt or confuse him. Kade is trying to help. He’s honest and forthright—and crazy about Ollie.

I find very little of the actual LGBTQA spectrum represented in current romance, or any romance, really. Someone can be demisexual and heteroromantic, or asexual and biromantic.

 

For the first chance to win an ebook copy of Model Citizen: What other divisions of the spectrum would you be interested in reading about? What confuses you? Fascinates you? How could I as a writer help broaden understanding of the spectrum for you?

 

ModelCitizenFS

 

Booklist:

 

Model Citizen (DSP)

 

Hidden Gem (DSP)

 

Evolution (DSPP)

 

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

 

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

 

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

 

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

 

 

 

Messy Rooms and Clear Minds Make a Detective

June 22, 2015

Ollie’s actual room looks something like this:

blogtakeover2

His brain is more like this:

blogtakeover1

Ollie is a bit of a slob. He sort of throws things down and leaves them where they lay. His best friend even calls his room a pigpen. It’s not dirty so much as cluttered with things that cease to be important to him. See, Ollie’s brain is cluttered that way too. He’s got so much in his head, always solving a case, worrying about his friends and how to pay the bills that he doesn’t have time for the mundane things in life.

This includes food and sleep. When Kade steps into his life, he’s determined to help Ollie remember the basics even while letting him fly free. I think most of us are like this. Or maybe it’s just us crazy creative types? I find the more in the zone I am with writing, the more I forget things like lunch or that the dishwasher needs to be emptied.

My cats remind me of things. Mostly that they need to eat. But I can gauge my day by when they start bugging me for food. They sort of hold my string and keep me focused. (That and my editor who occasionally pokes me to see if I got something done.)

What sort of things get left on the wayside when you’re focused on a project? Does someone (or something) help remind you that you still live in the real world?

ModelCitizenFS

 

Booklist:

 

Model Citizen (DSP)

 

Hidden Gem (DSP)

 

Evolution (DSPP)

 

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

 

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

 

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

 

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

 

Hello, Junior Investigators!

June 22, 2015

ModelCitizenFS

Hey everyone, This is Lissa Kasey. I’m here tonight to tell you all a little about my new release Model Citizen.

Model Citizen is the first book of a brand new series I’m working on. Unlike most of my other stuff there are no vampires, shapeshifters or witches. Just a model, an ex-Marine, a cop, an interior decorator, and a heap of porn stars. Are you guys ready for the adventure? Here’s the blurb in case you missed it.

Oliver “Ollie” Petroskovic’s life as an international supermodel was heading in the right direction. He worked part-time for his brother at his detective agency—Petroskovic Haven Investigations—and had just bought his dream house. But all that changed when he found his brother dead, a victim of PTSD-induced suicide.

Almost a year later, Ollie is trying to keep his brother’s business afloat, but can’t get his PI license. Then his brother’s best friend, Kade Alme, shows up, fresh from the battlefield after a close brush with death. Kade is looking for a new life, in more ways than one, and with PI license in hand, he’s exactly what Ollie needs to keep PHI running.

When one of Ollie’s childhood friends gets in trouble, Ollie feels he has to help. Kade insists on investigating if only to keep Ollie safe. Neither realizes the danger they’re in as someone tries to tear them apart before they can find solid ground together.

 

Tonight I’ll be giving you some inside details of the book. Giving away a book or two. And answering all your burning questions. Are you ready?

 

Booklist:

Model Citizen (DSP)

Hidden Gem (DSP)

Evolution (DSPP)

On the Right Track (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Unicorns and Rainbow Poop (Harmony Ink) Sam Kadence

Inheritance (Lissa Kasey)

Reclamation (Lissa Kasey)

Where did it begin?

June 15, 2015

That’s a Good Question. Ha! See what I did there? I’m closing out my time here at the DSP blog with an excerpt from the novella that started Lonnie and Jamison’s love story.

Excerpt:

GQ200Torp grimaced. “What the hell is that fag listening to?” he asked around a mouthful of sandwich.

“Don’t say that,” Jamison said.

Torp looked around for Lincoln and, not seeing him, asked, “Why the fuck not? He is.”

“You don’t know that.”

Torp snorted and then choked, prompting Jamison to slap him hard on the back a couple of times until he’d regained his ability to breathe properly. “Uh-huh, y-yeah I do. I’d have to be blind not to notice that.”

Jamison opened his mouth to argue, but suddenly he noticed the music above them had stopped. Did he hear us? From deep in the house he heard someone running down the stairs. He turned to look over his shoulder and saw the art student stumble into the hallway, pause, and turn their way, spotting them. Shit. Jamison turned back around quickly and sipped his tea, his gaze riveted on the grass.

“Hey, fellas. I’m done for today. Got a late afternoon class. See ya tomorrow.” Jamison felt some tension drain out of him, but then the young man gave an exasperated sigh and a chuckle. “Sorry. Introductions?”

Jamison sensed the man come closer, and to his left Torp leapt up, quickly wiping sandwich crumbs off on his jeans. “I’m Theodore Machado III, but most folks call me Torpedo.”

“Uh… really? O-okay. Good to meet you, Torpedo”—Jamison smirked at how carefully the man repeated his friend’s name, as if trying it out on his tongue—“I’m Lonnie Bellerose. The very pregnant lady of the house is my sister.”

“Good to meet you, Mister—”

“Lonnie. Just call me Lonnie.”

“Good enough.”

The silence that followed brought some tension back into Jamison’s shoulders as he realized they were waiting on him, probably staring at his back. He began to sweat just as his eyes caught sight of a parade of ants moving across a worn, brown patch in the yard to his right. They looked hell-bent for the grass forest on the other side of their tiny clearing. Take me with you.

“He don’t talk much,” Torp explained, then smacked the back of Jamison’s head. “Jam, introduce yourself, man.”

Jamison took a deep breath and slowly stood, turning to face them as he did. Lonnie’s gaze followed him, his eyes widening as Jamison continued to rise above him. Lonnie’s lips parted slightly, almost gasping when he had to tilt his head back a bit to look Jamison in the eyes.

Green. His eyes are green, Jamison noted. He almost stepped closer, almost revealed the pull he felt, but he stopped himself, fearing the same reaction from Lonnie that he’d gotten since his first growth spurt. When you don’t smile much and you’re big and you’re black and you’re tattooed and you’re silent, people—strangers—all react the same way.

It had served him well growing up, carrying him safely through adolescence in a rough neighborhood and keeping bad influences—and even some good ones—at a distance. But as he looked into Lonnie’s bright green eyes, it suddenly hit Jamison that the last thing he wanted from this man was distance.

A smile slowly spread across Lonnie’s beautiful face—full lips, narrow nose, long dark lashes, and high cheekbones. Yum. He was almost as pretty as a girl, but so very much a man.

“My… you’re… you’re—”

“Jamison.”

“Huh?”

“I’m Jamison Coburn.”

Lonnie slowly extended his hand, and Jamison took it. “I’m… I’m….”

“Lonnie.”

“Huh?”

Jamison allowed himself to grin. “You’re… Lonnie Bellerose.”

Lonnie barked in laughter, snorted, and smacked himself in the forehead. “Ha! Yeah, yeah, I’m Lonnie. Sorry.” He shook his head, his curls bouncing. “Spaced out a bit there. Nice to m-meet you, Jamison.”

“And you, Lonnie,” Jamison said softly. “Enjoy your class.”

“Right,” Lonnie almost whispered, nodding, staring, grinning. “Thank you.”

They stared at each other for several more heartbeats, and then Lonnie turned on his sockless but sneakered feet, juggled his drawing pad and art bag, and walked right into the closed half of the French doors. He stumbled backward, but Jamison grabbed him and steadied him by the shoulders, aiming him properly at the open door.

Lonnie looked back at him and laughed again. “Thanks f-for that.”

Jamison simply nodded and pointed at the doorway, silently urging him to watch his step. He watched Lonnie walk through the kitchen, all the way down that long hall to the front door, heard Lonnie’s noisy VW grind to life, and caught a flash of purple as he drove away.

“You can’t see that?” Torp asked, shaking his head and shooing a fly from the remainder of his sandwich before taking another bite.

I saw it, all right, Jamison thought, smiling.

*****

I hope that was fun. Setting it up for this post made me smile again.

Thank you all for joining me today, and if you take a chance on my novel The Answer Is, I hope it’s an entertaining read for you.

Remember, you have until 11 a.m. EST, Wednesday, June 17, to leave a comment on the giveaway posts in this release party for chances to win.

Take care and have a great week, people!

What are you reading?

June 15, 2015

We’re only half way through the sixth month of 2015, but I bet you’ve been doing a lot of reading, haven’t you? I know I love curling up with my Kindle each night. Right now I’m reading Murder & Mayhem by Rhys Ford, one of my favorite authors.

What are you reading right now? What have been some of your favorites so far this year? Leave a comment below for a chance to win an ebook from my backlist, which you can find here.

I’ll draw a name at random from those comments on Wednesday, June 17. Good luck!

The Answer Is: Lonnie Bellerose

June 15, 2015

It’s time for Lonnie’s introduction.

Excerpt:

Lonnie sighed and hugged himself, trying to appear at ease as the crowd moved around the room. After all, he was an artist standing in a gallery that displayed some of his best work to date. He should be all smiles and charm and wit. Instead, he felt as though he stood out like a two-headed goat, afraid to move, all hooves and confusion, bleating above the conversations.

On top of that, Lonnie had the distinct impression of being watched. He couldn’t shake it. He looked to his right and his left, then settled again on examining the campus beyond the wall of windows at the gallery’s entrance. He searched the mist-shrouded grounds for any sign of Jamison, but he was nowhere to be seen.

“Here, have a drink, Mr. Bellerose.” Professor Eloise Bink smiled and sipped her champagne, urging him to do the same from the flute she’d provided. She taught several art history classes, and Lonnie had been her assistant while earning his master’s.

He took a sip, then said, “Just call me Lonnie, please. I’m not your TA anymore.”

She smiled and tossed her short and sassy new haircut out of her eyes, the silver-gray strands catching the light. “I’ll call you Lonnie when you call me Eloise.”

He frowned in thought. “I think I can handle Bink but nothing more casual. Will that do?”

“Acceptable.”

They sipped in unison, the bubbles nearly making him sneeze.

“You appear agitated. Waiting for someone?”

“Jamison’s coming, though he should be here by now.”

“No family?”

He shook his head. “Parents in France, Amber birthed a new human being, and brother-in-law is hovering, so… no. No family tonight.” A chill ran through him, so he took another sip of his champagne. It didn’t warm him, and this time he did sneeze, loudly, causing a few heads to turn in fright. His face heated, and he nodded his apologies before depositing the flute on a passing tray.

He turned to the entrance again and gasped softly. Through the floor-to-ceiling windows, he caught a glimpse of a tall, broad-shouldered silhouette hurrying toward the building. The campus lights along the path reflected off what little fog lingered above the lawn, giving the approaching figure a mysterious, superhero-like quality. To Lonnie, he seemed to be moving in slow motion and to his own soundtrack. Lonnie’s heart soared, and he excused himself from Bink to cut through the crowd and meet his man at the door.

“Hi,” he said, beaming up at Jamison as he walked in looking all kinds of gorgeous.

The worried frown on Jamison’s face vanished as he smiled down at Lonnie. “Hi, yourself.”

“You look fantastic.” He stood on tiptoes to give Jamison a peck on the lips, but Jamison pulled back, the frown returning, his gaze darting around the gallery. Lonnie sighed, took his hand, and tugged him deeper into the room. “I have someone I want you to meet.” He paused to look over the faces surrounding them, and when he spotted Bink again, he resumed his tugging.

Glancing around as he followed Lonnie, Jamison asked, “Isn’t your fam—?”

“No,” Lonnie said, “but they sent their congratulations.”

“Ah, Lonnie, back so soon?” Bink said, turning to face the two of them as they reached her. She blinked up at Jamison, her expression remaining warm and friendly. “Whom do we have here?”

“This is Jamison Coburn. Jamison, this is Professor Eloise Bink. I’ve mentioned her before. I was her teaching assistant.” His words rushed out as he gripped Jamison’s big left hand tightly. Mine.

“Yes,” Bink said. “I’m certainly going to miss you in that capacity. Perhaps I’ll find something else for you.” Lonnie laughed at that.

Jamison’s hand swallowed hers. “Good to meet you, ma’am.”

“And you, Mr. Coburn.” She grinned at Lonnie before continuing. “Anyone who can make him daydream at his desk is definitely someone I want to get to know.”

Lonnie gazed up at Jamison and caught the embarrassment as it crossed his handsome features. His chest filled with joy and pride that Jamison was here for him.

“Oh… I don’t know about that, ma’am,” Jamison said.

“Bink, Mr. Coburn. Please call me Bink.”

“If you’ll call me Jamison.”

She grinned. “Agreed. Champagne?” she asked, grabbing fresh flutes from a passing waiter. She handed them each a glass, and they clinked them in a toast to Lonnie’s accomplishment.

*****

I think Lonnie is more delightful than annoying, but he walks a fine line. What do you think?