January 27, 2015
Hi, this is Maggie Kavanagh here to talk to you lovely folks about my new novel, Double Indemnity, which released yesterday. Thanks so much for joining me to celebrate (and don’t forget to refresh the blog for later posts).
First, business: I’ll be on the Dreamspinner blog today from 12-5 p.m. EST and then I’m heading over to Twitter for a takeover of the Dreamspinner account from 8-9 p.m. EST. You can find a full schedule of guest posts and giveaways on my website. Later today, I’ll be doing an eBook giveaway here, so keep checking back for that post! Dreamspinner has also graciously provided a one-time-use per customer coupon code for 15% off either of my books on the DSP site. Simply enter Kavanagh0127 at checkout. The code will be good for today and tomorrow. Now, because DSP already has a 25% off eBoooks sale going on today, that means you’ll get 40% off the total price! What a steal!
Now, let’s party! Double Indemnity is a murder-mystery/romance set in the fictional town of Stonebridge, Connecticut. The book is filled with sexual tension, danger, and plot twists, with occasional comic relief provided by my self-deprecating and sarcastic hero, Sam Flynn.
The story is told from a limited third person point of view, which means as a reader you’re very closely aligned with the Sam’s thoughts. Sam is a bit of a mess, but I loved writing him. He’s in his later twenties, working a landscaping job to stay afloat on hospital bills, as he’s the primary caretaker of his comatose brother, Tim. He drinks too much, has a lot of causal sex, and he also likes to stick his nose where it doesn’t belong. A born investigative reporter, Sam finds himself intrigued by a series of unexplained deaths in Stonebridge and soon finds himself on a dangerous journey to uncover the truth.
Nathan Walker, long an object of Sam’s fantasy from afar, is a more enigmatic character, since we only see him filtered through Sam’s perception. Eight years older than Sam, he’s a married, well-established professional with a seemingly perfect life. He’s also got some deeply buried secrets that readers will discover along with Sam.
Now, the most important part: the romance. I like to ratchet up the sexual tension between the main characters before they finally get together, mainly because I enjoy lots of UST as a reader. While an immediate romp in bed can be fun, I always find the emotional payoff greater after a good dose of tension. At the same time, it has to make sense in the context of the novel. I don’t like to delay sex just to prolong the inevitable—it has to fit with the characters and story. In this novel, there are a multitude of obstacles to any relationship between the two main characters, some which are more obvious than others. I love a hard won HEA or HFN, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in this novel.
Blurb: Sam Flynn dreamed of being a journalist until a car accident killed his parents and put his brother into a long-term coma. Now Sam spends his days as a landscaper toiling in the New England sun and his nights drunk in bed with the closest warm body. In his limited spare time, he writes about Stonebridge’s local crime and politics on his blog “Under the Bridge.”
Then Sam’s favorite client is found dead in her home—shortly after telling him someone has betrayed her trust. Sam can’t believe her grief-stricken husband Nathan would be a suspect, but the investigation hones in on him. Sam has always admired handsome Nathan from afar, but now he puts his libidinous feelings aside to help clear his name. However, the closer he gets to Nathan, the more he’s told to keep away from him and the investigation—by the fatherly police chief, by an officer on the case who’s hated him since school, and by Nathan himself.
Sam’s determined to expose the real reason his friend died and clear Nathan’s name—even if it’s the last thing he does. Which, considering how fast the death toll is increasing in Stonebridge… it might be.
Excerpt: The drive from downtown to the suburbs of West Stonebridge took around twenty minutes. Houses turned into estates and then grew fewer and farther apart, and eventually gave way to farmland and wilderness. The contrast never failed to make him a little sorry for Stonebridge, which, despite the pretty name, was a huge dump of a port city. Most of it, anyway. Out here the air got fresher, the colors brighter, the people richer.
Sam cranked up the A/C in his truck and stopped for a coffee to wash down a couple of aspirin to kill his hangover. His first stop was the Walkers’ place, an old converted farmhouse on acres of land, most of which was covered with trees. Sam had often wondered what it would be like to live with nothing but bears and bunnies for neighbors. It might get lonely, but at least the water temperature would always be just right. He parked his Ford flatbed on the gravel driveway and hopped out. Because the job was only a weekly mow and maintain, Sam hadn’t bothered to ask any of the other workers to join him. And Yuri had taken the day off, Sam remembered, so he wouldn’t see his partner until the next day. At least it would avoid another awkward morning after.
Emma Walker’s cruiser was still parked in the drive when he pulled in, and next to it, her husband Nathan’s sleek black Mercedes. Sam’s pulse quickened like it always did, but the butterflies in his stomach reached swarm proportions when he noticed Nathan getting out of the driver’s side.
With his black sunglasses and trendy suit, the cut of which showed off his powerful shoulders and trim waist, Nathan couldn’t have looked less rustic in front of his country home. His dark hair gleamed in the morning sun.
He had a few inches on Sam, and Sam had often admired his swimmer’s build on the occasions Nathan was home while Sam worked the yard. The guy could do laps for hours as Sam mowed and raked and tried not to marvel at the way he cut through the water like a hot knife through butter. An attractive man, but a very heterosexual, very married, man, Sam reminded himself as he returned Nathan’s wave. He pulled something out of his trunk—a suitcase—and vanished into the house. Sam often wondered where Nathan disappeared to on all of those long trips. He could have been a government agent or some kind of contractor. Even a hit man.
I’d love to hear from you now! What sort of narration do you prefer in reading a M/M romance (first person, third person limited, omniscient, etc.)? Does it depend on the writer or story? As far as sexual tension, do you like gradual buildup or does it again depend on context?
January 16, 2015
Hello, I’m Elizabeth Noble and my time on this blog, discussing A Barlow Lens, my latest release is about up. Dreamspinner Press is offering a 25%off coupon code good from now until Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive). Everyone commenting is eligible to win a free eBook copy of A Barlow Lens. I’ll announce the winner Sunday evening.
In the present day part of the book Val and Wyatt use a number of sources to look back into the past and solve a decades old mystery. I had to really think about how someone now would investigate a murder that took place about 90 years prior. Val and Wyatt had to get pretty crafty when digging up their facts. They used a few resources, old photographs, a museum and drawings from a school girl from the time.
Just like an astronomer uses a telescope and special lens as tools to exploring the night sky, Val and Wyatt used a number tools as well. What they discovered was how the lives of a street cop, a teacher and a gangster collided in 1927. The lives of Tom and Philip intertwined with Val and Wyatt’s years after their deaths.
Every life is a circle.
After coffee and breakfast, Val looked much better and Wyatt definitely felt much better.
“Kevin destroyed all our evidence. How are we going to find out what happened?” Val asked. They sat at the table, and he was finishing a second cup of coffee. “From what we learned so far, I’m having a hard time believing it was Tom who started that fire. I want the end of the story.”
“I agree. That article you read, the one written by one of the surviving students, you said she disputed Tom being at fault,” Wyatt said.
“Yeah.” Val put his coffee cup down with a soft clunk. “Think she’s still alive?”
“I suppose it’s possible. If not, maybe we can track down a relative who might be able to shed some light on things.” He stood up, taking his phone. “I have to call Lily. We were supposed to meet her yesterday, and I want to make sure she’s all right and let her know we’re okay.”
It took them some serious searching, putting both training and skills to good use. Wyatt had years of experience researching and ferreting out useful bits of data from the most mundane sources. He was constantly impressed and surprised by Val’s ingenuity and downright creativity when it came to hunting facts and people on the internet. Val found sites and resources Wyatt would never have thought existed, let alone gone to while trying to locate someone.
They ended up spending a day at the police museum and city hall searching records, even enlisting Lily’s aide. She was able to aim them at documents kept at the museum and a local university containing a great deal about the woman who’d written the article as well as other pieces that had appeared in newspapers over the years. The woman had mounted a campaign to bring the story of what really happened to light, but it never seemed to happen.
It took considerable effort on all their parts, but finally there was a solid trail to be followed. While it didn’t lead to the little girl who grew into the woman who’d written the article, they did have a clear picture of who she was.
“Molly and her brother Dennis, who was three years older, survived the school fire,” Val said, reading Wyatt the notes and timeline they’d put together. “Molly was really an amazing woman. She grew up and married a Tony Petite a few years before we got into World War Two. He was in the Navy and stationed in Hawaii. They not only lived through Pearl Harbor, but she also survived the 1946 tsunami. He wasn’t in Hawaii at that time.”
“That is one lucky woman. She lives through a fire that killed more than survived, the bombing of a naval base, and a tsunami.” Wyatt settled in a chair. He’d bought some large pads of paper with adhesive strips on the back and watched as Val stuck them to the wall, making lists and drawing arrows from one thing to the next.
I have a number of old photos sitting in several boxes. Some of them are more than a century old and I love looking at them. Each one tells a story. Do you have any photographs or documents that give you clues into the lives of people living in the past?
January 16, 2015
The story this book tells takes place in two separate, but interconnected timelines. The story begins in the present with Val and Wyatt, two men preparing for their wedding. When Wyatt is asked to consult on a cold-case murder, he and Val get a look back at what life was like for another gay couple Tom and Philip. The majority of the story takes place in Cleveland, Ohio which looked a lot like this in 1927.
This is part of the neighborhood Tom and Philip lived in. This business and building no longer exist today. The neighborhood I’ve used while telling the story is the same one I live in now. It was also the neighborhood where my grandparents spent much of their youth. While A Barlow Lens isn’t a historical novel, I have tried to make the sections written in that time line as accurate as possible. One of the characters in the book, a small time gangster named Archie is loosely based on stories my grandfather told me about one of his older brothers.
Tom and Philip read the Cleveland Press newspaper and back then it looked a lot like this.
Do you like novels that give you a little bit of history but aren’t necessarily historical novels or are you a purist?
Don’t forget Dreamspinner is offering a 25% off coupon code for all my books now through Monday. The code is Noble0116 (case sensitive).
Here is an excerpt from the 1927 portion of the story:
TOM MANNING stopped just inside the heavy, wooden door and stomped the snow from his boots. He shrugged out of his overcoat and waited for his eyes to adjust to the lower lighting. A shiver worked its way down his spine. There was a fire, the room was warm, but it still took his body a few minutes to acclimate to the temperature without his coat. He turned to the right where one of the large coatracks stood next to the door and added his coat to the ones already there. Taking his hat off, he shook snow from the fabric and wiped one hand over his hair. He gave his head a little shake to clear off any excess snowflakes.
A radio in one corner provided music. Despite its scratchy reception, there were a few couples swaying on the dance floor. Tom had become a regular in this particular juice joint, even though it was far enough from his small apartment in the West Park section of Cleveland that it took planning and a little time to get there. That was just fine by Tom. It made the Canary, this joint’s name, safer. Most cops wouldn’t bother coming this far north and west, and if they did, there’d be plenty of warning. At least Tom hoped so.
The first few times he’d come there, he had worried about who might see him. Then he realized that if someone saw him, they’d come to the Canary for the same reason. This particular speakeasy catered to a select and secretive group of men and women.
Tom slid onto a stool and smiled when the bartender sashayed over with a plate of sandwiches thick with meat and cheese on freshly baked bread.
“We got a new shipment in this week. Care to give it a try, honey?” The bartender, Billy, flipped a towel over his shoulder and put his hand over Tom’s for an instant. He tipped his head at a table on the other side of the room. “He’s been asking after you. I’ll get you two of what he’s having.”
“Appreciate it,” Tom said. He twisted on the stool to get a better look at the man at the table. The man had dark hair and was built like a bull. His big hands cradled the glass of bootleg, and that sent a spark coursing right through Tom to his balls. Beefy hands that handled a glass gently. What would they do to Tom’s flesh?
Thanks to Billy and his need to be in everyone’s business, Tom might just find out.
January 16, 2015
Before I forget, because I always forget, Dreamspinner Press has offered a coupon code: Noble0116 (case sensitive). It’s good for 25% off all my books beginning today, Friday, and expires on Monday.
To start the festivities here is the blurb and a bit of an excerpt from the book.
While planning a future with his partner, Val, Wyatt’s past refuses to be forgotten. Wyatt’s old friend asks him to look into the mysterious death of her uncle in a fire back in 1927, when men were silent, tough, and did not love other men—except when they did. Working with Val, Wyatt digs up clues uncovering the truth behind the tragic school fire and the one responsible. The story of Tom and Philip slowly reveals itself, and Wyatt and Val realize nothing is as simple as they originally believed. As their trail heats up, an old enemy of Wyatt’s decides he’s waited long enough for revenge. If Wyatt can’t tie everything together, history might repeat itself.
Once they were back at their hotel, Wyatt ushered Val into their room, not bothering with the light. They were high enough up there was no need to close the drapes, and light from the city cast a soft glow over them.
As Val unbuttoned his suit jacket, Wyatt stepped up behind him, placing his palms on Val’s shoulders, then rubbing lightly up and down his arms a few times. “Let me give you a hand.” Wyatt eased the jacket off and kissed the side of Val’s neck, nudging his head to the side as he did so. A low moan rumbled out of Val’s chest. Wyatt dropped the jacket on a chair and slipped his hands under Val’s shirt, caressing Val’s skin with his fingertips.
When he reached Val’s tightening nipples, he rubbed small circles until Val’s hips jerked. Val shuddered and pulled in a quick, shaky breath, making Wyatt smile. Val’s tie and shirt joined his jacket. Wyatt ran his hands over Val’s torso before returning them to Val’s shoulders. He lightly traced the scars on Val’s shoulder with first his finger, then his tongue.
Val’s surgery to repair the damage done in the course of stopping some seriously dangerous people who had been trying to force jockeys to throw races, had left several scars. They weren’t red, raised, and angry anymore. Val never complained about them hurting, but the marks were still puckered and darker than the surrounding skin.
“You know,” Val whispered between dragging in a breath and panting it out again. “That first time we went out to dinner, I was so worried you’d think I was some uncouth, country hick because I don’t know about wine and art. And that I was too young to bother with.”
“Hmm, do you know what I worried about when I was thirty?” Wyatt scraped his teeth across Val’s shoulder blades.
“Getting a sweet piece of hot ass,” Wyatt said in a low voice.
Val laughed. “Well, you’re sort of slow. Took you long enough. Worth the wait?”
“Oh, hell, yes.” Wyatt maneuvered Val to the bed.
There is an age difference between Val and Wyatt. What’s your preference, couples that are closer or farther apart in age? Any personal experiences to share?
January 7, 2015
If you’ve missed any of the earlier posts, please scroll back to find an excerpt, some teasers and some info about me. Also please leave a comment (on any of the posts) to be entered in a drawing to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar! (I’ll announce the winner in the comment section on this post on January 8 at noon EST).
I’d like to leave you all with one final teaser for MOMENT IF IMPACT. Earlier I talked about how first kisses are my favorite thing to write. This clip kinda shows that I like to write second kisses almost as much. Okay…maybe just as much. *cheers*
January 7, 2015
I mentioned how much I adore the handsome model who graces the cover of MOMENT OF IMPACT. Here are some more beautiful shots of him with some teasers from the book. If you haven’t checked out the two earlier posts today, please do—and leave comments on any of them to be entered into the contest for a chance to win a Warwick Rowers 2015 Calendar!
I just love the way his eyes sparkle. He’s the perfect Collin.
December 19, 2014
As usual, I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.
How to describe Corey and Lucian?
Corey is a rational kind of guy. He sees a problem and he tackles it head on. He over-analyzes too, which makes him hesitate whenever the opportunity to be close to someone presents itself.
Here’s an image I had in mind when writing Corey:
Lucian, however, is more instinctive that Corey. He’s unafraid to try new things, and he’s a great lover of both men and women. In fact, due to his family, Lucian has made a conscious choice to have his whole life revolve around sensual issues.
Here’s an image I had in mind when writing Lucian:
Here’s a scene to show Lucian and Corey learning more about one another in an intimate—and pitch-black—setting at Boudoir:
“Am I your first frigid man?” Corey wondered briefly if that were true. Statistically he couldn’t be the only one in town.
“You’re not my first enigma” was Lucian’s cryptic reply. That seemed so like Lucian that it made Corey laugh. “You want to dance, Corey? No one would see. Not even me.”
Corey bristled. “I happen to be a good dancer.” Then he cleared his throat. “Not that that’s the point or anything.”
Lucian let out a merry sound. “I’d love to dance with you. I bet you lead very well. I must confess the notion of your hand on the small of my back is enthralling.”
Corey swallowed nervously in the blackness. He wasn’t sure what it was about the idea of dancing with Lucian that made him anxious and jumpy. His confused mind still reeled and refused to provide him with clear-cut answers. And his body was so deep into the land of confusion, Corey wondered if it would ever get unlost again.
The rising pace of the “Boléro” changed to a new piece then. A lone saxophone began to play, a blues tune so soft and melancholy it stirred something in Corey’s chest. A heavy weight shifted, an ever-present reminder of the pain he carried. And yet, the notes of the sax held a certain erotic charge that tingled on the edges of Corey’s awareness and in his gut, this time showing him how a single instrument could depict his condition so accurately. The sad longing for sensuality.
Would it be so bad if I danced with Lucian?
Corey threw caution to the wind. “We can try that. One dance.”
Lucian let out a surprised, gleeful gasp. “Really?” Corey heard chair legs scrape on the floor as the man rose and then soft footfalls as he approached. “Take my hand.”
Corey knew that if Lucian had used an endearment right then, he would have changed his mind so fast his head would have been left spinning like in those old time cartoons. But Lucian’s voice sounded gentle and kind and even somewhat yearning, so Corey stood up and fumbled to find his host’s hand in the dark.
How Corey wished he could have felt passionate sparks and colorful fireworks as their hands touched. Alas, all he felt was a hand smaller than his own with delicate bone structure, long, svelte fingers, soft skin that carried the scent of passion fruit, and the feel of luxuriously manicured nails.
Time to announce today’s giveaway! As the above excerpt shows, this is Corey’s first time dancing with someone, and is therefore profoundly meaningful for him.
So I pose you this question: What do you remember from the first time you danced with someone?
I’ll answer to get the ball rolling.
I was a teenager, thirteen or fourteen. My Mom had taken me and my sister on a cruise, just a short two-day trip. I wore a blue silk blouse I’d borrowed from my Mom when a man came to ask me to dance. I did, though I’d never done that before and was feeling a bit nervous. I don’t recall his face, only that he was a lot taller than me and he had a spicy cologne. We never really spoke and I never learned his name. Yet I remember the experience well. I’ve danced with other men since then but that moment has stuck with me.
The prize for this giveaway is an e-book (your choice of format) of The Sensualist & the Untouched—or if you already have it, one from my backlog.
December 19, 2014
Hi again! I’m Susan Laine. I’m hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched.
I have a couple of themes that take center stage in this book.
The first is sexual inexperience and how detrimental the effect of that can be on a person’s self-esteem, especially if you are an adult. The emotions connected to that state of being are the same for both men and women: Poor self-esteem, shame, embarrassment, and feelings of inadequacy. Last but not least, there is loneliness, which is another central theme.
The physical aspect in a relationship may not be key but it is important. As social beings, we all have an instinctive need to connect with people, to see and to be seen by others. Our modern society is over-sexualized. Sex sells, as the saying goes. You can see it everywhere, not just on the pages of a porn magazine, but in huge billboards around big cities. Women with big boobs and butts, men with thick muscles and ripped abs. The imagery radiates sex.
It seems as though everyone is having sex everywhere, all the time, with anyone and everyone.
But… what if you’re not? What if you’ve never felt the touch of another, never been kissed, never been seen as desirable, never even been brushed against by someone who isn’t part of your immediate family?
That is where Corey comes from. No sex. No touch. No intimacy. No sensuality. Nothing.
He is fundamentally alone and lonely, and he’s tired of it. He’s an adult, in his thirties, and he has no practical knowledge of what it takes to be intimate with another human being. Loneliness is his best—and worst—friend.
Here’s a tiny excerpt to show how loneliness effects Corey:
Corey had never realized, not with the total awareness of this moment, how much he ached to be touched. His raw, palpable loneliness permeated his whole body, from skin to soul. Perhaps the constant solitude had fried his brain, making him mad, delusional, and wanting impossible things. But in his heart, he had more than an inkling it was this isolation that left him hollow and hurting, touch deprived and in desperate need for contact.
“Fuck. I’m sorry.” Corey was glad his face was hidden by the cushion, but he wasn’t stupid enough to believe or hope that Lucian hadn’t noticed.
How about a realization that others seem so capable of love—while Corey is not?:
Funny how Corey could recognize it, though he had never felt it or sensed it aimed at him. Perhaps it was instinctual and universal and undeniable.
If so, why couldn’t he reciprocate? Why could he not… feel… those better emotions, the ones that didn’t make him feel like a loser, despondent and bereft of hope? Had it been nothing more than… gasp… a fluke?
As I’m sure you can imagine, this is an emotional ride. Corey has a lot to deal with throughout the story, and because of him, so does Lucian.
And now, a question for you all: Do you find it easy or hard to talk about loneliness?
If you feel the topic is too intimate and private, there is absolutely no obligation to answer.
As I wrote, at times I almost choked on the heaviness and hollowing feeling as I experienced it through Corey. Many find it hard to admit they ever feel lonely, even in company, while others find comfort and safety in solitude. Our society labels poorly those who have the courage to admit their loneliness, as though they were abnormal or freakish somehow. That is the place where Corey’s loneliness stems from, the unwillingness to vocalize it, burying it under the condition of frigidity.
My books can be found through my website.
December 19, 2014
Hi! I’m Susan Laine. I’ll be hosting a release party here today, Dec 19, starting from 2:00 p.m. EST for my latest release, The Sensualist & the Untouched. This is a standalone contemporary M/M erotic romance.
I’ll be around for four hours to offer excerpts, a giveaway, a picture or two, and answers to any and all of your questions. I might even spring up a few myself. I’ll do a post once in an hour or so, to give everyone a chance to stop by here at DSP’s blog.
Here’s the cover by the talented Bree Archer:
This novel is set in contemporary New York City, and tells the tale of Corey Paige, an adult male who has never experienced any kind of sex first-hand. Corey is introduced to Lucian Allard, an eccentric man with a large cache of sensual wisdom ready to be imparted on a sexual novice like Corey. A sensual journey begins.
You can find the book HERE.
Here’s the blurb:
“Being over thirty is not an issue for Corey Paige. Being frigid and a virgin, however, is a huge problem for the only son of a newspaper magnate. No matter the risk, Corey’s intent on resolving both problems in one go.
Enter Lucian Allard, a wealthy hedonist with a notorious reputation at club Boudoir—and an unconventional sexual mentoring program for those who suffer from dysfunctions. As the two men begin a sensual journey to awaken Corey’s libido, Corey’s frigid body isn’t all that begins to melt. His untouched feelings also spark to life.
Though a family emergency puts a halt to awakening Corey’s senses and desires, Corey and Lucian grow closer as friends. Then an unexpected kiss from Lucian in Corey’s most desperate hour changes everything. Now Corey must decide if the program is still an aid or an obstacle to two lonely men trying to maintain a professional detachment but falling hopelessly in love.”
As I said above, I’ll be around from two to six EST to offer excerpts, giveaways, pictures, and trivia tidbits. So please, if you’re interested and/or have some free time, stop by at the DSP blog.
Question for you all: Are you familiar with my work, or would The Sensualist & the Untouched be your first story of mine?
You can find more about me and my books at my website.
November 14, 2014
TERRY GOT to the squad room two hours after Jim—and still five minutes early for their shift. Polite man that he was, he didn’t ever mention the early hours—or late hours, if one counted how many times Jim just didn’t leave—or the sludge coffee Jim was drinking. He just sat down with his tidy Starbucks grande tea and sighed.
Jim suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. “Morning.”
“Morning,” Terry said, turning on his computer. “You want my bagel? It’s an onion—they got my order wrong.”
Jim tilted his head until he could see around the low gray cubicle walls to Terry’s desk. “Again? Third time this week. You should say something.”
Terry shrugged and reached into his backpack for the brown paper bag. “They’re busy—it’s no big deal. I gotta watch my girlish figure, you know.”
Jim took the bag and went back to his stack of paperwork with a grunt. Terry was transparent and about 165 pounds soaking wet, and his figure was just fine—not that Jim made a habit of mentioning that.
“Mimi wants to know if you can come for dinner Friday night. Nick and Heather are coming too.”
Heterosexual Power Cabal Monthly Dinner Party—Jim’s favorite. Right after root canal but slotted in just before dinner with his father in the assisted-living dining room.
“Wow, that’s this Friday? Man, that sucks. I have a date,” Jim lied, peeling the paper off the bagel.
“Uh-huh. Why don’t you bring him?” Terry said almost sweetly, and Jim balled up the wax paper to toss over the divider between their cubes.
“He’s shy. And he doesn’t like straights.” Jim talked with his mouth full to annoy Terry, then realized it annoyed him too, so he stopped.
“Dating a bigot, Jim? That does not seem your style. Oh wait— dating a person… that seems even less your style.”
Jim heard the familiar chime of Terry’s cell phone being opened and groaned inwardly. The chime was followed by hushed, whispered Korean; then, as expected, Jim’s phone rang.
“Oh, come on now—it’s too early for this,” Jim groused, picking up the line. “Hey, Mimi.”
There might have been a triumphant “ha” from the cubicle next door, but it was drowned out by Mimi’s cheerful voice.
“If you do actually have a date on Friday, you should bring him,” she said with the exaggerated patience of a kindergarten teacher. “I can pretend to be enthralled by Heather’s breasts if that helps establish a more gay-friendly vibe.”
Despite himself, Jim laughed. “She does have excellent breasts….”
Mimi snickered. “Even gay men notice breasts—why is that?” “I don’t know. I’ll call the Gay Council and let you know.”
“Good, you can tell me the results on Friday.”
“James. You have to come when I tell you who the fourth couple is.”
“I’m almost afraid to ask.”
“Ben and Liddy are driving down for the weekend to visit her parents, so they’ll be there. It’s supposed to be a surprise for you, but I’m changing my tactics because you’re being impossible. So bring wine and some beer and let me know if your date has any food allergies.”
Ben, his ex-roommate and “best friend.” The guy he had a long- standing, unrequited, nonreturned, intense crush on. Of course he and his new wife would be the fourth couple! Jim had that sort of luck these days.
“Well, I can’t say no now,” Jim said, feigning excitement. “I’ll be there, and I promise to pretend to be surprised.”
“Great. Thank you, James,” Mimi said, clearly feeling triumphant. “We’re having vegetarian sushi and tempura.”
“What’s that you said? Steak and lobster?”
“Is your date vegan?”
“You’re funny, you know that?”
“Is your date real?”
“Bye, Mimi. I have to go now. Some of us work for a living.” He ignored her last question and made kissy sounds over the line until she said something rude in Korean and hung up.
“Your wife curses like a sailor,” he called to Terry.
“It’s hot, isn’t it?”