March 27, 2015
Find “The Serpent and the Angel” here! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6201
Remember, while this might be Book 8 of my series, it is also book 2 of my Part 2 of the series. I have 5 parts planned and while the entire series should be seen as a cohesive whole, to make my life easier, I split the books into parts to make sure I stayed on track and told the story that needed to be told.
It’s certainly a struggle to balance the romance with furthering the overall plot, but I welcome the challenge. I feel that with every book I grow stronger in my writing skills (and research skills), and I really enjoying seeing my series unfold and reveal itself. Every single book offers me at least one surprising moment.
That is the struggle with these later books since the dominoes need to start falling as the series unfolds. Part one (Psychic Moon through Master’s Blood) was more of the introduction to my universe, and the characters and the groups I will be dealing with for the rest of the series. Now the rest of the parts will be focused on the various romances (of course) but also the workings of the villain Arcas and his allies. But the core of the series is still love and how each couple tries to save the day and prevent Arcas from reaching his goals.
The snake slowly slid out of the small hole it had been coiled in. Flicking its tongue, sensing no danger, it slithered and scraped over rocks and boulders, easily finding a path out of the rubble. It was hungry, but it didn’t smell any prey, which caused it to focus on finding an exit out of the tunnel. For some reason it didn’t want to hide and wait for prey, it wanted to find open air. Always going with instinct, the snake never questioned or doubted its senses. The long serpent easily made its way down the open tunnel, seeming to glide over the uneven ground and disjointed tracks. It wound around the mine carts, past the fallen pickaxes, constantly flicking its tongue.
It began to feel cool air over its scales and hesitated. Slithering to the side of the tunnel, the snake eyed the opening, flicking its tongue, again sensing no danger. It moved slower now, wary of the open air, the lack of protection. But something inside it urged it out, into the open; something seemed to push it forward. Keeping close to the side of the tunnel, it peeked out of the opening, into the dark. The moon was high, the stars shining, but the snake paid it no mind. All it saw was the wide expanse of land, and all it thought about was food and shelter.
But even as it was about to move across the darkened land, it sensed movement just outside the tunnel. Coiling into itself, the snake lifted its tail and lowered its face. Sound followed the movement, and the cause of that sound formed a shadow across the land. The snake flicked its tongue out, tasting the air, oddly familiar with the scent upon it. It wasn’t prey. It wasn’t predator. What was it?
A creature walked into sight. Again, there was an odd sense of familiarity. The known scent grew stronger as the creature seemed to notice the snake. The snake coiled tighter, muscles trembling. Its rattle shook louder.
“Never seen a rattlesnake as big as you before,” the creature said.
The snake didn’t understand. But Tobias did. It felt as though he surged upward, as if he was rising out of water toward the surface, straining for air. He saw through his snake’s eyes, smelled Angel’s scent. The snake fought, of course it fought, but Tobias knew he’d win. The snake wasn’t stronger than he was. It had never been stronger.
The snake shuddered as if in pain, and the rattle stopped moving.
Angel knelt in front of the snake, at a safe distance from a potential strike. Tobias stared into Angel’s face, using it as an anchor. He knew that face. He liked that face. When he’d changed, he’d been too scared, nearly panicked with the thought of death, that he hadn’t fully prepared himself mentally for the change. This caused his snake to take over fully, for him to lose who he was, his memories, his purpose, his personality. But now he fought, and he knew he would win. But he couldn’t allow Angel to see him change back. He couldn’t even allow himself to consider the outcome of that travesty.
Tobias took full control of his snake and struck out at Angel, never intending to bite, but trying to scare Angel away. Angel jerked back in shock with a yelp. Then Tobias turned and shot down the tunnel, into the dark. But even as he did, and as Angel’s scent faded, his snake began to fight back. Tobias held onto Angel’s face, his voice, his scent, and kept control. But he couldn’t hold the snake’s form as he kept remembering what it was like to be a human. He could only move past the first corner of the mine before the air shimmered. His skin rippled violently, and he fell to the ground, a human once more.
Gasping, shaking, Tobias’s skin flashed hot then cold. He was going to be ill; he knew he was, just like the first time. He curled into himself, his throat dry, his lungs heavy. He must have made enough noise to draw attention, because he suddenly heard someone running down the tunnel. It wasn’t long before Angel ran around the corner and skidded to a stop. They stared at each other for a long, humming moment before Angel dropped to his knees and yanked off his own coat, wrapping it around Tobias.
Then, to Tobias’s great shock, Angel pulled him into his arms and hugged him hard.
“Oh, thank the spirits. I knew it, I knew you had survived.” Angel’s voice was thick with tears as he rocked them both, his arms in an unbreakable hold.
Tobias didn’t know what to say. He still felt ill and was becoming more so by the minute. But right then, he closed his eyes and allowed himself to indulge for a moment. He took a deep breath, coughed, but still relished the scent of his deputy. Angel was so warm, the kind of warmth Tobias’s skin had never exuded. He curled into his deputy, remembering acutely the reunion with his parents so many years ago. It had been so different from this. He’d been slapped by his mother, yelled at by his father. His arm had been grabbed, and he’d been dragged to their carriage and berated the entire way home. There’d been no tears, no words of relief or joy.
He didn’t know what to make of Angel’s obvious affection or how to handle it.
Angel suddenly pulled back, and their eyes met again. Tobias’s eyes had adjusted to the darkness, and he could see his deputy’s face well enough to see something in his eyes that sent a spike of fear down Tobias’s spine.
“It was you,” Angel whispered. “You were the rattlesnake.”
Want to learn more? My website is here: www.mdgrimmwrites.com
Do you like long series (20+ books) or would you rather a short one (under 10?) or do you prefer trilogies?
March 27, 2015
You can find “The Serpent and the Angel” here! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6201
For those late comers, I’m promoting the 9th book in my The Shifters series. You can find the rest of the series here: http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/md-grimm
I suggest reading them in order from book 1 since they do depend on each other, but if you read them out of order you’ll still get the gist.
The inspiration for this story actually came from a blog prompt I did a couple of years ago. I wanted a strange couple pairing and wrote a cute little story. It’s nothing like the finished product, but I enjoyed the concept so much, I kept it.
What to read it? Here it is: (EXPLICIT)
It was typical. There he was, winding his way through the sand, slithering around rocks, looking for some tasty rodents, and a fucking eagle thought he would be the tasty one. Serp saw the shadow above him and didn’t think much of it until the shadow got bigger. Serp slithered quickly over the ground, trying to find a good nook to hide in. But the eagle was quicker.
Serp felt claws pierce his skin and he was suddenly lifted from the ground. Knowing he had no choice, unless he wanted to be eaten, Serp shifted.
He was slow at it, he didn’t spend his time as human much. It was too complicated. Snakes were easy and he loved being a rattler. But not when he was about to be disemboweled by a hungry eagle.
Serp managed to shift and that had the predictable effect of the eagle dropping him to the ground. Serp grunted as he smashed to the ground and rolled over the rocks and weeds. Serp groaned and managed to roll to his knees. He had expected that.
But he hadn’t expected the eagle to fall from the sky with him. Seems he shocked the eagle enough the proud bird lost air and crashed beside him. But what Serp really didn’t expect was for the bird to hop to its feet, stare at him with eerie intelligence, then shift.
Into a human.
Serp felt his jaw drop. A golden-haired, hazel-eyed, regal angel was standing in front of him. His skin was gold as well.
For himself, Serp felt skinnier than usual. His hair was brown, his skin was pale. He wasn’t the most attractive man ever. But from the way the eagle shifter was looking at him, Serp felt like a god. Serp had never met another shifter before. But he knew there were more.
The man smiled. “I knew you were a shifter. You didn’t smell like a rattlesnake. Not completely, at least.”
Serp didn’t know what to say. “So, what were you trying to do? Eat me or…”
The angel’s grin grew bigger. “Oh, I was certainly wanting to eat you.”
The angel leapt and shoved Serp on the ground on his back. The angel straddled him and licked his pink lips. Serp felt his little-used dick grow hard. He wasn’t a virgin but he wasn’t a stud either.
“Wha-what is your name?” Serp managed to ask.
“Don’t have one.” the angel on top of him said. His lips drifted over Serp’s neck and rose up to his chin, nibbling at the skin.
“I’m Serp. As in serpent.”
The angel pulled back and grinned. “I like it.” then he kissed Serp. Heat shot through Serp’s body and he no longer felt the rough and rocky ground beneath him. He didn’t feel the hot sun beating down on his skin. All he felt was Angel’s warm and willing body and he decided to only focus on that.
Serp’s hands slid along Angel’s back and his mouth worked energetically against Angel’s. Angel groaned and pressed harder into him. Serp’s hands had a mind of their own as they slid between Angel’s legs and wrapped around his cock. Angel groaned and pulled away slightly.
“You are so sexy,” Angel said, his voice deep and rough. Angel nipped Serp’s lips.
“No, you are.” Serp grunted when Angel cupped his balls.
“I always did like eating snakes,” Angel said with a sly grin that made Serp’s heart jump in his chest.
In a flash, Angel moved lower along Serp’s body and slipped Serp’s entire cock into his mouth. Serp’s body bowed and he gasped in shock. It was so sudden, and rough. Angel’s mouth was heavenly as it sucked and that tongue slid over the tip. Angel squeezed his balls and Serp gripped Angel’s hair, the smooth locks sliding between his fingers.
It was quick and satisfying. And incredibly hot. Serp came with a groan and Angel groaned and swallowed. Angel moved up Serp’s body and flicked his tongue over Serp’s nipple.
“My turn,” Angel said.
“Oh, yeah,” Serp gripped Angel’s long and beautiful cock and stroked. Angel’s eyes never left Serp’s face and his pupils were dilated to an extent that the hazel irises could barely be seen. His face was flushed and Serp couldn’t resist a kiss. Angel gripped his face and kissed him hard. Serp stroked Angel harder and faster and relished in the groan and the wetness that covered his hand when Angel came.
They both lay back on the ground, panting.
“We’re not done, Angel.” Serp said, still wanting more.
The eagle shifter turned his head to look at Serp. Surprise was on his face but then a warm, appreciative smile spread across it.
“Angel. I like it. No one has ever cared enough to give me a name.”
Serp rolled on top of Angel and knew that his isolated life was about to change.
“I care. And I’m yours if you’ll have me.”
Angel wrapped strong arms around Serp and nuzzled his neck. “A serpent and an angel. Perfect.”
Silly, I know, but it was fun, and Tobias and Angel came out of it.
It’s a trick sometimes to balance the “human” side with the “animal” side of a shape-shifter. I have to decide early on how much one side influences the other. I don’t want to do the same thing every time; I want to keep each story fresh and engaging. That’s why I made Tobias cold like his snake, and Angel was actually more easy-going and “talks” to his eagle a lot. He describes them as a team. But because Tobias is odd comparatively, I wanted the snake to influence his personality more, and not always in the best way.
What odd shifter would you like to see in a story? A cuttlefish, a unicorn, a parrot…?
March 27, 2015
I’m back! Promoting my latest release “The Serpent and the Angel” (The Shifters Book 8).
“The Serpent and the Angel” was very fun to write because of the pairing of Tobias and Angel. I enjoy pairing “odd” couples and these two are perhaps the oddest of my pairings so far—a diamondback rattlesnake shifter (Tobias) and a golden eagle shifter (Angel). Since I find both of those animals beautiful and majestic in their own right, I liked the idea of them together. Also, I was intrigued by their symbolism in various Native American tribes. Both animals held (and hold) very important roles to those tribes, and I tried to play around with that within the story. But my greatest emphasis was put on the idea that they appear to be opposites in every way: one’s above the earth, the other is earth-bound; one mates for life, the other is solitary… you get the idea. But in my story both of them are guardians. They approach their jobs differently but the core of who they are is the same.
And now here’s an excerpt:
He pulled on Shadow Dawn’s reins before dismounting. He approached five men, ones he knew well, Lord help him, who were currently getting their asses handed to them by one lone man. Tobias didn’t recognize his face and figured he had to be a stranger. His clothes were plain and dirty around the cuffs and knees, indicating he’d been traveling for some time. He had a bag with him but lacked a hat.
Tobias stood for a moment, rather entranced by the ferocity and skill of the stranger. He was swift, his unusual gold eyes keen and sharp. He used arms and legs to defend himself, and one-by-one, each man fell to the ground, coughing dust and dirt. The sun glinted off brown hair streaked with gold, and it matched his skin, which was also an intriguing shade of light gold. The man was tall, but not nearly as tall as Tobias, who stood an intimidating six foot, three inches. The stranger had broad shoulders and a narrow waist, and his coloring was certainly odd. A suspicion as to the stranger’s origins formed in the back of Tobias’s mind the longer he observed the man. When all five men were flat on the ground, moaning and groaning, Tobias was able to take a better look at the man’s face: he had sharp features, especially his cheeks and nose, a heavy brow, and Tobias decided he was quite handsome and strangely beautiful at the same time. Then the stranger looked straight at him. Those sharp, gold eyes met his, and a zing of lust shot straight to his groin. The man panted, sweating visibly, his bag still held by one hand, his body tensed for more fight. Tobias smiled.
Interested? Find the book here http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6201
Do you have any questions for me regarding my series or my life? Ask away! I shall try to answer.
But now a question for you: What sort of odd pairing would you like to see in a shifter story? What two animals would you find hilarious to pair together?
March 27, 2015
Hello everyone! M.D. Grimm here promoting “The Serpent and the Angel,” the latest story in my Shifters series.
“The Serpent and the Angel” continues the story of the ancient scrolls and their bird guardians. For those of you puzzled by the direction I’m taking with this series, rest assured I have a plan, the scrolls are very important and that’s why I’m diving into the past to introduce them. And because it’s fun J
If you want to learn more about my “grand plan” for the series, you can check out my blog at: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/#!blog/cqsg
I share all you ever wanted (or not wanted) to know!
I’m not too familiar with historicals, which is why I wanted to challenge myself with “Hunted Guardian” (book 7), “The Serpent and the Angel” (book 8), and the nearly-completed book #9 “Predator and Prey.” I wanted to introduce the scrolls in a historical setting to set up where they are in the present (which will be books #10-#12, and possibly later ones).
Now here’s a short excerpt:
Tobias knew how to intimidate, to make others fear. Lord knew it was his greatest skill. He had a deadly stare, aptly like that of a rattlesnake, and his eyes, his expression, were blistering cold. His boots thumped up the two steps of the general store’s long porch before he entered the building itself. He turned smartly to the counter where an older gentlemen, one in a snappy suit, stood, waiting for the few customers inside to purchase their items. The man’s gaze shot to Tobias’s, and he visibly paled, his eyes widening.
With a casual lean on the counter, which didn’t fool anyone, Tobias lifted the brim of his hat a fraction before considering the man.
“Good morning, Mr. Thompson.”
Mr. Thompson had to clear his throat before he found his voice. “Good morning, Sheriff.”
“I hear we might have a problem.”
He blinked. “Problem, sir?”
“Aye, a problem. Namely, a problem you might have with a few of the hardworking miners the coal mine employs.”
“I got no problem with those men.”
Tobias’s lips lifted slightly. It wasn’t a smile. “Right glad I am to hear it, Mr. Thompson. That puts my mind at ease. Now, I’ll just leave here and go tell those nice hardworking Chinese men that you don’t have a problem with them.”
Mr. Thompson scowled, his wrinkled face becoming more wrinkled. “Damn Chinamen. What kinda trouble they causing now?”
Tobias lifted his eyebrows. “They claimed, mistakenly, I’m sure, that you be raising the prices for them, while keeping the prices reasonable for the other miners. I reckon that ain’t true, is it, sir?”
Mr. Thompson, while obviously still wary of the sheriff, didn’t seem to want to appear cowardly. There were a few decent women in the store, including his seamstress wife, who were obviously staring at the two of them, eager to see what transpired.
“They come to this country, stealing work from decent folk. Lord knows they gotta damn pay for it.”
Tobias tilted his head slowly to one side, his eyes flat, his face emotionless. Then, without warning, Tobias lashed out. He gripped Mr. Thompson’s collar and yanked him forward, causing his upper half to lie flat along the counter. Mr. Thompson gasped and choked, his eyes reeling. Tobias shoved his face near the older man’s, their noses almost touching.
“Let me make myself perfectly clear, Mr. Thompson,” Tobias said in a low voice only the two of them could hear. “Consider this your only warning. Whether it’s a Negro, Chinaman, Indian, or a damn dandy who walks into this store, you had better treat them with the same decency you treat those who look like you.”
Mr. Thompson sputtered. Tobias tightened his hold, his strength absolute.
“I don’t got a use for bigots in this town, and you know how I feel about useless folk.”
Mr. Thompson paled even further, his eyes growing dark with terror.
Tobias paused, making sure his point sunk into the man’s thick skull. “If a person got a use in this town, they get the same damn items for the same damn price. Have I made myself clear?”
“Aye.” It was nearly a squeak.
Tobias let go and shoved Mr. Thompson lightly on the shoulder, sending him back across the counter. Mr. Thompson stumbled and panted, his hands shaky as he tried to straighten his clothing.
Tobias gripped the hem of his vest and gave a light tug to resituate it, before smoothing out his shirt. He sniffed and lowered the brim of his hat again, casting his face into shadow, his eyes the only things gleaming.
“Remember, Mr. Thompson, I only give one warning.”
Mr. Thompson nodded vigorously, gulping. “Y—yes, sir.”
Tobias spun on his heal, tipped his hat to the ladies who stood behind him, stunned. Then he was gone, striding out of the store and back down the lane. The sun glinted off the sheriff’s star pinned to his vest as he now observed his surroundings. Parkers Hollow was a tough town with tough people, and he had damn well be tougher. That had never been hard for him. He was cold, detached, and merciless. He’d never pretended to be otherwise. Lord knew he was exactly the type of sheriff a town like this needed.
He lived by one rule: If a person had a use, then that person deserved his protection. In these rough lands, there wasn’t any room for laziness or parasites. The last sheriff had learned that lesson quickly… when Tobias had put a bullet in his brain. The man had been a corrupt, drunken horse turd in fancy suits. He’d certainly had no use whatsoever.
Which do you prefer: series with the same couple/characters every book or different characters/couples but with a related theme?
I shall be back!
March 23, 2015
Since you can read the first chapter over on the Dreamspinner page, how ’bout a bit from the first time Kieran and Jaxon meet?
A few minutes later, the rest of Kieran’s breakfast arrived. Natalee appeared ready to stand guard and watch him eat, but the comings and goings of other customers kept her occupied. She didn’t have any extra time for Kieran except to offer a refill of coffee, which he gratefully accepted.
As advertised, the pecan pancakes were delicious: large, fluffy, and full of chunks of pecan that added a delightful crunch. There was real butter and genuine maple syrup, and Kieran was in breakfast heaven. The fruit salad was fresh and juicy sweet, and the bacon was thick and meaty, not grilled to a crisp.
Positively breakfast heaven.
Kieran didn’t make it a habit to be awake at breakfast time if he could help it, but if not, he required a good breakfast. The Copper Caboose served breakfast all day, and he’d happily eat all his meals here if he couldn’t find any other place with decent food.
Kieran was pushing the empty plates away when the bell on the door jingled and the most beautiful man he’d ever seen walked into the restaurant. He’d seen plenty, so this was no mean compliment.
Make that most beautiful person, Kieran amended. He’d never seen anyone—man or woman—more attractive. Just over six feet, the object of future fantasies had short, neatly cut sun-streaked brown hair. His eyes—bright greenish-hazel, slightly heavy-lidded but in a sexy, just-fucked way—mesmerized Kieran, and just looking at his plush, full-lipped mouth threatened to give Kieran an immediate hard-on.
It wasn’t simply his appearance, but the way he seemed so unaware of his power to attract. Kieran’s usual playmates had no doubts about their looks, and that knowledge seeped into their personalities in all the worst ways.
This man wore a Wedgwood-blue button-down shirt fitted closely enough to make it clear he spent time at the gym, or played at least one sport, and took proper care of that amazing body.
And he was walking directly toward Kieran.
Just then, Kieran noticed the woman who had come in with the man and had pushed ahead of him as she moved toward Kieran’s table.
“Are you Ky… Kee….” The woman fumbled the words, then gave up.
Kieran’s eyes were still glued to the beautiful man.
“Keer-un.” The man’s voice was rich and resonant, with lovely inflections that made it distinctive and incredibly sexy as he spoke Kieran’s name. “It’s Gaelic, right?”
Kieran smiled, noticing a few caramel-colored freckles scattered over the tanned nose and cheeks of the man. Kieran realized for the first time in his life how much he adored freckles. At least the freckles on that face.
“Yes, it is.” Kieran hoped he didn’t have a stupid grin on his face. “You’re probably the only person in town who can pronounce it besides me.” Only natural that someone with an “X” in his name would be sensitive to another person with a slightly unusual name.
“I’m Danetta Archer.” The woman practically shoved her way in front of Jaxon, blocking Kieran’s view. She nodded her head in Beautiful’s direction. “And this is Jaxon Lang, my fiancé.” She reached out to shake Kieran’s hand, and he felt obligated to take it. She gave him a short businesslike squeeze, far more powerful than her looks implied.
“Jaxon,” Beautiful said, offering his own hand. Kieran took it, prolonging the contact, enjoying the warm, firm grip. Reluctantly, he let go before anyone noticed.
“Nice to meet you both.” Kieran’s gaze still focused on Jaxon.
Without asking, Danetta sat herself down in one of the chairs opposite Kieran. Jaxon sat down at the side of the table to Kieran’s left, his knee slightly grazing Kieran’s as he settled into the chair. The resulting jolt of electricity sped through Kieran’s body, and he fought to keep his attention on the conversation.
“Alexa Harrington told me you’d be coming to town early because you wanted to do an article on my wedding.” Danetta beamed at the word “wedding.” “I’m not really familiar with Gloss. It sounds like it’s a fashion mag, perhaps like Vogue or Marie Claire?” She paused. “You have a photographer coming, too?” Her eyes widened and flashed with excitement over the idea of her wedding being featured in one of those magazines.
Kieran shook his head. “I take my own photographs.” He rarely did, preferring to paint pictures with words. “And ‘gloss’ actually has another definition: commentary or interpretation. It’s meant to be an intellectual play on words: one connotation indicates shallowness while the other is almost opposite in meaning.”
Jaxon smiled at Kieran’s explanation. Danetta looked blank. “You’re familiar with the word ‘glossary’? They’re related.” “Oh, right,” she said.
“It’s very clever.” Jaxon nodded.
Kieran gave a casual shrug, pleased with Jaxon’s approval. “Well, I can’t take the credit for it.”
Jaxon turned his full attention on Kieran. “We wanted to introduce ourselves to you now, and—”
“We know you’ll want to do some other interviews and I—we would be happy to schedule those for you, to help you out,” Danetta interrupted.
Damn woman was already finishing Jaxon’s sentences, and they weren’t even married yet, Kieran thought wryly. It didn’t escape his notice that Jaxon hadn’t used any other pronoun besides “we,” which was already disgusting in itself. Worse, Danetta had mainly used “I” and “my.” Those sorts of details spoke volumes.
Jaxon might be the most beautiful name I’ve ever heard—even with the fucking X. Kieran forced himself to snap out of this daydream in order to participate in the conversation without drooling over Jaxon Lang.
“That’s very accommodating,” Kieran replied. “How did you know I was here?”
“Natalee called and told us,” Danetta replied. “She knew we wanted to meet you as soon as possible. Everyone in town is on the lookout for you.”
“You probably feel like you’re being stalked.” Jaxon’s eyes twinkled in amusement. “Well, you are. I’m very sorry about that, but you’re the biggest thing to happen to this town in a long time.” Jaxon paused as he seemed to be giving Kieran a welcome once-over. “In more ways than one. I mean, we heard you’re quite tall.” A rather adorable wide-eyed look of embarrassment flashed across his face. “And everyone in town loves Danetta, so they’re all very excited for our big day.” Jaxon turned to her with a dopey, lovey-dovey smile that made Kieran want to puke up the fantastic breakfast he’d just eaten.
Jaxon’s tone and demeanor were heading directly into Stepford territory, and it was a pretty disheartening realization that this beautiful man would be Danetta’s husband in just a few days.
“So, Alexa said you want to focus on about how even though I was engaged before”—Danetta gave Jaxon a sideways glance—“that now I’m sure I’ve found true love with Jaxon. Have I got that right?”
Kieran liked how she put it—engaged, as opposed to actually had three weddings.
She continued, “And you want to meet the three men I didn’t marry, so you can—what, compare them to Jaxon?”
“Well, I admit that’s part of it.” Kieran avoided Jaxon’s eyes at the implied insult.
* * *
March 21, 2015
So, this is the day after the river-sex scene (as I’m calling it ), and Jackie has convinced Luki, Sonny, and Brian to go Geocaching with him. Brian and Luki are walking a bit farther back, and Sonny and Jackie get a moment to talk. You know, sometimes I wish I had a Sonny! I figure he might look a lot like the guy in the photo above, maybe a bit older. He’s all of 35 or so by the time J&B comes along. Might as well clear up a timeline question while we’re here, too. A Shot of J&B takes place after all the V&J books except Because of Jade. The story in the novella “Yes’ has recently happened, and Jade is still about 5 years in the future.
“So, the you-and-Brian thing,” Sonny said. “Going well?”
Jackie smiled even bigger, shook his head in disbelief at his own good fortune. “Very well,” he said. “Sonny, I can’t believe how… right he seems for me.”
“I can believe it,” Sonny said. “I think he feels the same about you, if I’m any judge. And you’re both good men.” He stopped, touched Jackie’s arm, grabbing his full attention. He glanced back, and then, apparently satisfied with the distance between them and the other two men, he said, “But you still should keep your eyes open, Jackie. I’d lay money on a bet Brian would never hurt you on purpose, but… well, things happen. Don’t lose yourself in him, okay?”
“Yeah. I hear what you’re saying. I’ll do my best…. Sonny, you know I applied to a school in London.”
“Hm. Heard back yet?”
“No. And I haven’t said anything to Brian or even Luki or Josh. Kaholo knows.”
“Okay,” Sonny said, scratching at his almost nonexistent beard, clearly thinking. “I won’t say anything. But you know, if you go, Luki will worry.”
“I know. Will you?”
“Not unless between now and then I see a reason to be more concerned.” Sonny started walking forward again, and Jackie followed suit. “You’re grown,” Sonny continued. “Your head’s on as straight as anyone else’s, and you’re pursuing your studies because it’s a field you want to work in. You wouldn’t go to London to be near Brian if the school didn’t have what you wanted. Right?”
“Oh, it’s a great program. I applied before Christmas… before I met up with Brian at your house.”
“You’ll be fine. You don’t need protecting half as much as Josh and Luki think you do. I’ll miss you if you go, but I won’t worry… much.”
So it’s almost time to go! I’ve have very much enjoyed your company everyone, and I hope you had some fun. I’m going to figure out the winners and post it, then try to answer as many comments as possible. So I’ll be back in a bit with a farewell until next time post!
March 21, 2015
THEY WALKED out after all the guests who weren’t staying left, Jackie leading him by the hand through an oak-covered trail with moonlight shining toward them from the open sky of the river.
They settled in, opened their bottle of wine, and shared it along with good-natured silence, quiet words from time to time, and a loose embrace. Brian’s arm and larger form sheltered Jackie from a cool breeze off the river, and it added up to more than a friendly hug, but less than sex.
With about two-thirds of the wine gone, Brian set it aside and stood, then reached a hand down to help Jackie to his feet. He was about to suggest they walk back to the house before the family feared they’d fallen in, but facing Jackie he saw a look in his eyes he couldn’t quite interpret. He seemed neither to plead nor demand, not even to expect, but something in his direct gaze, his slightly open lips, the tilt of his head—they added up to a question, and though Brian’s mind didn’t seem to know the language, his lips and body did.
He leaned in and grazed his lips across Jackie’s once, twice. When he straightened, he saw Jackie’s eyes narrowed slightly, his breath rushed out quickly and caught, his fingers fidgeted against his palms—all signs of distress. He took a half step back, not letting go of Jackie’s eyes, and held both his hands out between them, palm up.
“Give me your hands,” he said.
Jackie placed elegant fingers in Brian’s broad, strong palms, and when Brian closed them in a tight grip, the younger man’s entire being seemed to relax. Brian pulled Jackie’s hands toward him and around his back, holding them there as he stepped forward until there was no space between them at all.
“Okay?” Brian asked, then nodded when Jackie murmured “yes” in response. This time, when Brian’s lips met Jackie’s, the kiss held all the passion he’d been waiting to express all these months.
After some time he took a moment to breathe and enjoy the feel of Jackie’s hot breath on his neck. He pulled his head back enough to catch Jackie’s eye, said, “Your turn, love,” and flattened Jackie’s palms against his back so he could use his arms to pull their bodies hard up against each other, never releasing his gaze.
Jackie’s gray eyes flared in the moonlight, and Jackie tilted his head back and caught Brian’s lips in a hot, sliding, toothy kiss, then sucked hard until Brian’s tongue filled his mouth. Brian took the kiss back then, exploring Jackie’s sweet, wide mouth, scraping his canines against the tender flesh inside Jackie’s mouth. He spread his legs wide to put their eyes on a level, and at the same time squeezed the taut globes of Jackie’s ass and pulled him in to grind their erections together.
Jackie moaned and broke the kiss—clearly needing breath—and Brian laid breathy claim to his ear, neck, and shoulder, tonguing along the grooves, biting and sucking bits of vulnerable flesh. Jackie continued what Brian started, holding Brian still but pulling at him and circling and swaying his pelvis for friction.
In Jackie’s ear, Brian said, “Hey, love. We’re not sleeping together tonight, right?”
Jackie shivered and said, “I don’t think we should.”
“Okay,” Brian answered. “I understand that. But then we should either stop this now, or see this beautiful thing through out here.”
Jackie laughed, a throatier sound than Brian expected—and so sexy. “Well…,” Jackie said, but he didn’t finish the sentence.
“What do you want to do, Jackie?”
“Brian, I… I don’t want to stop.”
“Me either, babe. I don’t want to stop.” Brian renewed the kiss then, slowly, but with a new intensity.
He pulled Jackie’s T-shirt up and stepped back. “Put your arms up,” he said, and when Jackie did, he pulled the shirt over his head, leaving Jackie’s well-formed, small but shaped chest, abdomen and shoulders bare. Brian just looked. “Oh, love. You’re gorgeous,” Brian said. “Perfect.” He knew Jackie’s body was one he could be happy with for a long, long time, but he kept that to himself.
Jackie’s stance seemed a mix of boldly daring and shyly hoping for approval, which Brian freely gave. Then he said, “The rest, Jackie. Strip. Fast, slow, graceful, funny, I don’t care how, just do it. Now.”
Jackie’s movements were graceful, seemingly without effort, and when he was done he knelt slowly in front of Brian, seeming to find some sort of longed-for satisfaction in the submissive position, head bowed, and hands holding opposite elbows behind his back.
“So lovely, Jackie. So fine,” Brian said, finding his mouth dry and his breath scarce. “Look up at me, now.” Jackie did as asked, and Brian stripped his own shirt away, then squatted down in front of Jackie and lifted him slightly to pad the rock under Jackie’s spread knees with their shirts.
“I need your hands, now, Jackie. I want you to help me with the rest of my clothes.” Jackie did, and when he finished, he stayed up on his knees, licking his lips and taking in big draughts of the scent of Brian’s sex.
“You want something, love,” Brian said—not a question. “Tell me.”
“Taste, Brian, Sir. I want to taste you.”
“Yes. Oh yes, do that. Use your hands, too.”
Jackie fell to his task with both vigor and skill, hands and tongue moving over Brian’s sensitive cock, balls, and taint, moving apart and together as if they were dancing. Brian was tempted to ask where he’d developed so much skill, but it felt far too good to interrupt. In no time at all, Brian had gotten so hard he would have sworn he was at least an inch longer and bigger around than ever before. He found himself having to try not to explode, wanting to keep the sublime feeling of almost heaven as long as he could. “So good,” he said, “so fucking good!”
Jackie moaned and gyrated his hips against air, and Brian nearly died of wanting to see and touch the beautiful man everywhere. After only seconds more, he took hold of Jackie’s head and pulled back, Jackie’s tongue trying in vain to follow.
“Look at me, love,” Brian panted, and tilted Jackie’s head back gently but firmly. When he gazed full on Jackie’s face, his red, swollen lips and sex-glazed eyes, he silently swore it was the most beautiful sight he’d ever seen. “Up,” he said and helped the smaller man stand. He kissed him hard and full, pressing their bodies together once more and enjoying the muted groans and gasps coming from Jackie’s throat.
Then he turned Jackie in his arms and ran his hands over his chest and abdomen, then back up to pinch and redden Jackie’s small dark nipples, which were charmingly surrounded by a very few short dark hairs and a splatter of rusty freckles. Jackie’s hands seemed nervous again.
“Something I would like you to do for me, Jackie.”
“Touch yourself. Stroke yourself, like you did the night you were alone—what you told me in your e-mail.” As he spoke he took Jackie’s hands in his and moved them toward the goal.
Jackie cried out wordlessly, not too loud, and he shook slightly when his fingers first touched his cock. He didn’t grasp the shaft, but squirmed in Brian’s hold until Brian said, “Hush now, love. Stroke yourself, please yourself.” Jackie’s submissive nature had certainly shown itself, and it tugged at the Dom in Brian like blood to a vampire. With effort, he held himself in check, mindful that this wasn’t a session. No safewords or prior agreements had been put in place, so he moderated his instructions with a question. “Will you do it, Jackie? It will please me too. So much.”
“Yes,” Jackie whispered, “yes, Sir,” and he followed suit with his hands, putting their skills to work on his slender, upward curved cock.
Brian watched, let his words tickle against Jackie’s ear. “Oh God, Jackie, baby! Just when I thought you couldn’t get any more beautiful.
Jackie’s breath shook. He moaned. His hands working faster and rougher, he said, “Brian!”
Brian spun him around, took Jackie’s two hands into one of his own and lifted them overhead. All in the space of a quick second, he took both their hard, straining cocks in his other hand and began stroking them together.
Jackie gasped, nearly choked out Brian’s name again, and started to cry out. Brian took Jackie’s mouth with his own, turning that sound to a deep moan, feeling it in his chest, where his heart pounded, and all the way down to his tightening balls.
Jackie came, warm seed gushing over Brian’s hand, cock, and belly, and sending him over into his own climax, sharing bliss for the first time with the man he thought he might never get enough of.
His legs a bit shaky themselves, Brian nevertheless held Jackie up, supporting him against his body, kissing his silky hair, stroking his back. When Jackie recovered and pushed away far enough to tilt his head back and offer a kiss, Brian gladly accepted it. Then they both smiled, eyes locked.
Jackie made a slightly comical face and said, “Oh my!”
Brian laughed and swatted Jackie’s ass playfully, making the young man jump and laugh. Then Jackie pulled away and without warning jumped into the dark pool near the riverbank.
Jackie popped up to the surface and slicked water off his face and hair. “I dare you,” he said to a very surprised Brian.
Brian let his delight in the younger man shine, laughed out loud, and jumped in too.
March 21, 2015
When it came time to leave and Jackie left the room to gather his things, Brian at last turned his full attention to his hosts. He thanked them and quite sincerely said he’d been very happy to see them again. He added, “And the food was fabulous, Luki!”
Luki chuckled, and said. “Thank you, Brian. But as preoccupied as you were, I think if I asked you tomorrow what you ate for dinner tonight, you wouldn’t even remember!”
Brian couldn’t pretend surprise that Luki had noticed. Before he could think of a reasonable response, Luki squelched any possibility of a speech with the biggest hug Brian had ever seen his former boss give anyone besides his husband, and then a giggling Sonny circled his long arms around them both and joined the squeeze. Brian’s ribs hurt a little by the time it was over.
When Jackie came from the back of the house with two suitcases and a backpack, Brian took the luggage from him and went to put it in the rental car while Jackie made his farewells to his uncles.
He put the backpack in the backseat, thinking Jackie might want that available, and then laid the suitcases in the trunk. They seemed to fit perfectly in there with his own bags, but when Brian had that thought, he realized what a strange thought it was, and tried to talk himself back into his usual, more sensible perspective.
Don’t be ridiculous, Brian. Even if there was a God and that God made one person to perfectly match one other person in the entire world, luggage fitting in the trunk wouldn’t likely be a sign they’d found each other. He was able to laugh at himself a little, then, and it did help him take a mental and emotional step back. Not too far, though. Now that he and Jackie had crossed paths again, he had no desire to step back too far.
He admitted in a moment of clarity that the prospects for any future development were a bit disheartening. He lived in London, had a career and a flat and a club and a cat there. Jackie lived in Nebraska—at least Brian thought he still did—was in college, still and had years of study ahead of him pursuing the education he needed to pursue his field of interest. And who knew where in the world that would take him?
Just then, Jackie turned toward him, smile clear and lovely in the glow of the porch light, but somehow more reminiscent of the boy of six years ago than he had been at any earlier time that night. It reminded Brian who Jackie was, what he’d been through, and he thought, if ever there was a sub that required a cautious approach, Jackie is it. Brian had enough savvy to know Jackie had become interested in him, but he decided that, though he wouldn’t discourage Jackie’s interest, he also wouldn’t do anything to deliberately foster it. For the time being, he’d let Jackie take the reins, solo.
RAIN HAD begun to fall heavily just as they’d pulled out onto the main road, which would take them back to Port Clifton. Visibility on the road was poor at the best of times, but on a moonless night in heavy rain, Jackie thought the chances that Brian would be able to pass the slow-moving, overloaded-looking log truck ahead of them seemed slim at best. He sighed, but not unhappily, only settling in. The ride would be longer than expected, but they’d left early so they’d likely make their flights in plenty of time.
The sound of the rain and the way it dripped down the windows seemed to close them in, to make the car’s interior seem cozy, its dash lights comforting. And Brian… he seemed steady behind the wheel, relaxed, perhaps even a masterful driver, reminding Jackie of Sonny. With the heat on low, Brian’s scent permeated the air—something with a touch of incense like quality soap, and slightly sexed, and a faint tang of end-of-a-long-day man-smell. And….
“I smell leather,” Jackie said.
“Oh!” Brian flashed a smile at him. “My brother gave me a jacket for Christmas. It’s on the backseat. Still new enough to have a pretty noticeable smell. I admit I like the smell, but most of the time I hardly notice it, and I know there are people who don’t like it.”
“I like it!” Jackie laughed at his own enthusiastic answer. He knew he wasn’t being subtle, but then subtlety was not a quality he’d ever been known for. “Quite a lot, in fact. It’s one of the reasons I took up leatherwork.”
“Tooling, burning, sewing. I like to work with soft, lighter weight leathers. I think the tooling and painting people do on heavy leather is fabulous—some of it’s museum quality. But I like the feel of the softer stuff, the way it responds if I treat it right, the way it looks when the right people wear it.”
“No. Well, heh. Yes I have a few things I wear from time to time, in certain… situations.” Jackie hesitated, knew he was taking the conversation somewhere unexpected. “I had some leather that matched the color of the darkest streaks in my hair, and I made myself a harness—but that one I’ve never worn.”
“Well,” Jackie said, drawing the syllable out slightly, “the occasion just never seemed right for it, yet.”
Brian glanced at Jackie, turned his eyes back on the road, and said in a husky voice that had to be one of the sexiest sounds Jackie had ever heard. “I’d bet good money you’ll wear it well when you decide to do so.”
March 16, 2015
Austin, Texas has been my home for 27 years. All of my books are set here. It’s a liberal city in a conservative state. Imagine if someone took San Francisco and dropped it into the middle of Oklahoma. That’s Austin.
I wrote my first two books in a comfortable chair at home, but when it came time to write The Eskimo Slugger, I tried out a few coffee shops in my neighborhood. My favorite was La Tazza Fresca, which is Italian for “the fresh cup.”
Most of YES is set in a fictional Austin coffee shop called La Tazza Magica, but it’s inspired by the real La Tazza a few blocks from my house. Here’s another excerpt with some pictures.
IAN SCANNED THE room and thought about the day five years earlier when he bought the building that would become La Tazza Magica.
Located north of the UT campus on one of Austin’s main thoroughfares, the former thrift shop proved to be the perfect size for a European-inspired café. With its vaulted twenty-foot tin ceiling and expansive windows, Ian transformed the space into a haven for students, writers, and the occasional chess player. In one corner, he set up a small living room with two identical black sofas facing each other and a red Queen-Anne-style coffee table in between. In the opposite corner, he installed a dessert case and wooden bar, for an old-world pub feeling. A fifteen-foot wine rack stood like a tower behind the bar, and Ian suspended another rack from the ceiling for glasses and beer mugs.
He filled the central seating area with a variety of tables, both large and small, some regular height and others of the taller bistro style but all made of dark wood. He painted the plaster walls a deep mahogany and trimmed the windowpanes in black. He updated the electrical system and tripled the number of outlets, in order to accommodate laptop and phone chargers. He found a vintage corner bookcase at an antique fair and stocked it with classic literature and board games like Monopoly, Life, Risk, and Trivial Pursuit. He hung paintings of Italian cafés on the slivers of wall between the windows and surrounded the building with a U-shaped stone patio for outdoor seating.
For food, Ian designed a simple menu of sandwiches and salads, with an accent on seasonal, fresh, and local. He served wine, beer, and the best espresso in town. He named the place after his favorite café in Florence, La Tazza Fresca, but changed the adjective. Most nights he had a packed house, and at peak times, Ian would introduce strangers to each other and encourage them to share a table. He posted his prime directive on a sign above the east door:
Stay as long as you want
Don’t be a dick
The barista on duty always had the final say over music selection, but Ian encouraged an eclectic and low-key atmosphere. During job interviews he grilled potential candidates about their musical tastes, so as not to hire a Belieber or anyone with a Wagner obsession. What he ended up with surprised him—anything from Johnny Cash to Billie Holiday to Justin Timberlake to Mozart to the Carpenters to this new band called Dime Box.
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March 16, 2015
The first scene between Ian and Bartley, before Ian makes his wish and wakes up two decades younger.
THE NORTH DOOR opened, and Bartley James, another of La Tazza’s regulars, walked in. Bartley was Ian’s customer crush, but with his all-American good looks and clean-cut appeal, he was also out of Ian’s league—or at least that’s what Ian believed. His nerves kicked into high gear as Bartley approached the counter.
“Hi, Ian. Can I get a double skim, please?”
“For here or to go?”
Bartley brushed a lock of golden-blond hair out of his eyes. “I need it to go tonight. I’m heading back to the office to finish the blueprints for the new house. We’re breaking ground tomorrow.”
“This the house you designed for the couple in Westlake?”
“One and the same. I’ve finally graduated from being an assistant to a full-fledged architect.”
“Sounds like you’ll need some food, then. Let me throw a sandwich together for you.”
“I only brought in enough cash for the latte.”
Ian turned to the espresso machine to make Bartley’s double skim. “The sandwich is on the house. You’re in here almost every day. It’s the least I can do to help celebrate your big project.”
“Well, thanks. I suppose food would be a good idea. I’m used to running on caffeine at times like this.”
“You ever have our Pilgrim sandwich? I got the idea from a deli in P-town. You ever been there?”
“Provincetown? Mason and I went last summer, before everything fell…. Never mind. I need to stop…. What’s on the sandwich?”
“Turkey, dressing, and homemade cranberry sauce. It’s like Thanksgiving dinner.”
“Sounds good,” Bartley said. “But how do you get all that onto one sandwich?”
“Well, it can be a little messy, I admit, but it’s bloody delicious.”
Ian cringed. This was usually the part where he started blabbering about something of no importance. All his attempts to be cool around Bartley ultimately ended in failure. He knew he should shut up, but instead he launched into the inevitable explanation. “I’ve been watching this British soap called Hollyoaks. Twenty-three minutes a day, five days a week. Totally addictive, crazy show, and I’m not exaggerating. Half the characters belong in a mental institution. One of them named his kids Lucas and Leah. You know, after the Star Wars characters? There are these five insanely hot Roscoe brothers. The two things I’ve picked up are ‘bloody’ and ‘sort it.’”
The Roscoe Brothers
“What do you mean by ‘sort it’?”
“Well, in Texas, when we have a problem, we fix it or handle it or deal with it. But in England, they sort it. I swear to God, they’re constantly sorting things. And if you go to court, you don’t testify, you give evidence.”
“Hmm. What made you start watching a British soap opera?”
Ian finished the latte, handed it to Bartley, and then turned his attention to the sandwich. “It has a lot of gay characters. I’m a little obsessed with gay stories on television shows.”
“Did you find it on BBC America or something?”
Max and Iago
“No, YouTube. That’s where all the good stuff is. People edit together the gay storylines from European soaps and add English subtitles. They’re called ‘trims.’ Max and Iago from El Cor de la Ciutat. Lenny and Carsten from Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten. Christian and Oliver from Verbotene Liebe.”
Bartley laughed. “Forbidden Love?”
Lenny and Carsten
Christian and Oliver
“Very good. Americans only know Brian and Justin from Queer As Folk, or Will and Sonny, of course, but there are all these other gay supercouples out there they’ve never even heard of, let alone seen. I recently lost an entire Saturday afternoon to Elias and Lari.”
Brian and Justin
Will and Sonny
“Where are they from?”
“Finland. I can’t pronounce the original title, but it translates as Secret Lives. Did you know people in Finland have saunas in their apartment buildings?”
Elias and Lari
“I didn’t know that.” Bartley took a sip of his latte. “You got any big plans for the weekend?”
“My friend Mark is taking me to Denver for my birthday.”
“Today’s your birthday?”
“Happy early birthday. How old?”
Ian hesitated as he spooned some dressing onto the sandwich. “Forty.”
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