SOME MORE ABOUT ALL BY MYSELF BY KEN BACHTOLD

February 2, 2015

Hi,

It’s snowing here in New York as I write. Sometimes when it’s raining, there’s the sound of raindrops dripping of the rungs of the fire escape outside my window. Occassionally, I stop my busy writing and listen to the “pings” for a time. It’s very soothing and the little break is most welcome. I picture the rain drops falling from step to step on their way to the giant pool below. Am I alone in this sort of fancy or do others out there have such a whim at times?

MORE ABOUT ALL BY MYSELF BY KEN BACHTOLD

February 2, 2015

Ken Bachtold here again! When I was writing my new novel, All By Myself (http://ow.ly/lcVTs), I found it impossible to stick to an outline (as with my other two books published by Dreamspinner, Seeing The Same Blue and Blue Valentine Blues). It seems I’m always better off when I let each scene lead me to the next one which seems obvious at that moment. And, of course, the characters themselves have a way of influencing my choices (the sneaky little devils). Do you ever do things on instinct like that or do you plan ahead carefully?

BLOG PARTY RELEASE OF ALL BY MYSELF BY KEN BACHTOLD

February 2, 2015

Hi out there! My name is Ken Bachtold and I was hoping to have a chat with you about my new novel, All By Myself, to be released by Dreamspinner tomorrow (February 2nd)!! The link to the book is http://ow.ly/lcVTs . It concerns two guys who meet under rather sad circumstances and feel a growing attraction, but which they try to ignore since both have been hurt badly in the past. I was wondering if any of you have had a similar problem, where you’re attracted to someone, but for one reason or another, were fearful to pursue it. How did you resolve the dilemma?

NEW NOVEL: ALL BY MYSELF

February 2, 2015

Hi out there! My name is Ken Bachtold and I was hoping to have a chat with you about my new novel, All By Myself, to be released by Dreamspinner tomorrow (February 2nd)!! The link to the book is http://ow.ly/lcVTs . It concerns two guys who meet under rather sad circumstances and feel a growing attraction, but which they try to ignore since both have been hurt badly in the past. I was wondering if any of you have had a similar problem, where you’re attracted to someone, but for one reason or another, were fearful to pursue it. How did you resolve the dilemma?

The Marzipan Opening by BG Thomas

January 31, 2015

Title: The Marzipan Opening

Author: B.G. Thomas

Pairing: Kit and Nick from Grumble Monkey and the Department Store Elf

Prompt: marzipan

The kid was making Nick St. George nervous.

It was not a good night for anything more to worry about. The opening of Kit’s first big New York art show already had him nervous enough. Having some homeless kid wandering around was not good. Not good at all.

But Nick didn’t dare say anything either. What if the kid wasn’t homeless? Yes, he was dirty. He was wearing torn jeans, and his T-shirt was old and dirty, his hair disheveled and greasy-looking. But this was the art world. These weren’t just patrons here tonight vying to see a potentially important new artist. There were artists here as well and that could mean those who were the very definition of Bohemian. What if he accidentally insulted a John McAllister, or an Armin Boehm, or a new Eric Fischl? That certainly wouldn’t do, would it? Or maybe the kid was an art critic that Nick didn’t know? A good (or bad) review in just the right (or wrong) place could make or break a new artist.

And Kit was a new artist.

One that Nick loved with all his heart.

Amazing.

Who would have ever thought it?

A year ago Nick had wanted to end his life. With Kit, his life was just beginning. And a wonderful life it was turning out to be.

If not frustrating.

First he’d had to figure out if he and Kit were something at all. It seemed like it. And Kit’s family loved Nick—something he cherished since his own family had disowned him some eleven years before.

And then when it was clear that Kit loved him just as much as he loved Kit, that this wasn’t infatuation or a reaction to the magic way they had met, they had to figure out what to do next. Live together? That sounded good to Nick.

But he knew he needed to wait for Kit to finish school. All he wanted to do was make love with Kit night and day, but Kit had to get his degree. Luckily the young man was in his last year at the Chicago Art Institute. He was already making a noise in the art world, and he hadn’t even had a real show until tonight. So he’d had to give Kit time to make sure his final pieces for school were perfect.

And they were, weren’t they? Like nothing Nick had ever seen.

When you walked into the room, the first impression you got was that a huge wind had picked up and thrown several laundry baskets’ worth of sheets throughout the room. They had struck people, objects, tables, and more—moving and flapping about them in the breeze. Except when you looked again, all you saw were the sheets. The objects that had caught them, or seemed to, were gone.

Or invisible.

Some were haunting, like spirits or ghosts. Some humorous—a table with a lovely cloth and a service set for tea awaiting guests… but there was no table! One, a centerpiece for the exhibit, was decidedly erotic. It was the only one where an object was still there with the sheets: a bed. It was the people in the bed that had vanished. And from the way the sheet clung to “them,” it was clear, very clear, that the two people were men. It clung to… everything.

Nick knew that there was no way it would sell. Where would anyone put such a piece of artwork in their home?

But it was causing a stir. Gasps, titters, and erotic stares.

New York would be talking about Keaton Jeffries tomorrow.

Nick didn’t want any of the talk to be about Nick St. George asking some young man what he was doing at Kit’s show—whether he was famous or homeless.

Tonight had to be perfect.

Perfect.

 

 

Kit was nervous. He looked around at the work he’d done over the last year and wondered if it had all been a horrid mistake. None of it was the pretty or silly stuff his family loved so much—like his renditions of the Grumble Monkey, the character his mother had created to teach her children lessons as they were growing up. Nor even the realistic pieces his sisters praised him for—like the fields of lavender. He’d taken a real chance breaking away from the kind of art he’d done for years—and the art that had so interested Nick in his work.

But he hadn’t been able to help himself.

When the idea hit, it had become a fever.

It all started with a marzipan cake.

One his mother had made.

One that had made him blush.

It was a bachelorette cake for his oldest sister, Ambrosia. And who could believe she was getting married? Of course, she was twenty-six. That was plenty old enough. But somehow as far as Kit was concerned she would be the older sister running off to her high school prom.

How wonderful that she was marrying the very same boy who took her to the prom.

But the cake!

“Mom!” Kit had said, shocked.

She had taken a superhero cake pan, one that went from the neck to just below the crotch and could be decorated to be Superman or Spider-Man or whoever the decorator desired. But in this case, she had made it into a man wearing nothing but underwear with a very clear and decided bulge. The cake was covered in marzipan—an icing that could be rolled into thin sheets. It made the man’s skin look very real and the underwear blushingly real as well.

“Oh, don’t be a prude!” his mother had exclaimed. “I thought you’d approve! You do like men, don’t you?”

“Mom!” Kit had cried a second time and turned so red he could feel his face warm from it.

“And you must admit, this man is well equipped!” She had laughed then, and once he’d gotten over his initial shock, he’d finally managed to join her.

It was the marzipan that had begun the idea for his new show.

The second catalyst for his idea happened when he’d been watching an episode of Face Off. The makeup artists had been using a vacuum machine to take thin, rigid sheets of heated plastic and stretch them over a mold.

The next day his idea had totally solidified in his mind while he was looking through a magazine and admiring a fashion photo set done on a windy day. The shoot had made the clothing and bodies beneath very exciting.

All three events had led up to his new creations.

Darn if he couldn’t tell what people were thinking.

But they were certainly talking, and wasn’t that what Nick had said was important?

He looked across the room, and yes, there was his man.

My man, he thought, and glowed.

The year since he’d met his grumble monkey at a rest stop in the middle of an ice storm would forever be in his memory. How wild that he would meet his love at such a strange place and circumstance!

It had also been a crazy year. He’d been so afraid that Nick would lose interest in him. But that hadn’t been the case. Nick would come to see Kit at least every other weekend up at the Art Institute. It had been exhilarating. And so strange. The dance between them. Close, then step back, close, then step back.

It had driven Kit nearly crazy, until Nick finally explained what he was up to.

“This is a critical time in your life! You’ve got to graduate. Then we can think of us.”

“Us?” Kit had asked hopefully.

“Yes,” Nick had said with a whisper. “If you want there to be an us.”

More than anything, was all Kit could say and think.

So he lived with that not-enough time with Nick, and he worked on his art. Worked long into the nights and often into the mornings. Some of the pieces were simple and some rather elaborate, especially the piecemeal crazy quilt at the foot of the bed. A bed that in Kit’s heart was all about him and Nick.

After school there had been the whirlwind of putting together the show and deciding so many things for their lives. They’d finally decided they would live in New York, and nothing excited Kit more than the Big Apple (except for a life with Nick), and they searched for a new apartment. They’d settled on a loft so that the large express elevator could be used to get Kit’s bigger pieces out of the building. It also would allow Kit to work at home.

Soon it would finally be time. Nick assured him that when the show was over, he would take him to Europe. For the art. And for lots and lots of making love!

It was then that he saw Nick stand up quite straight, his expression surprised and excited. He’d been talking to some older man, one Kit hadn’t seen before. Not that that was surprising. There were lots of people he didn’t know. But this one was causing quite a reaction with Nick.

Why then was his love still occasionally looking at the dirty young man who was now staring at the piece Kit called Tea for Two.

Gosh. Nick wasn’t interested in him, was he? Attracted to him?

No. Kit shook off the idea.

And made up his mind then and there to talk to the kid.

 

“You’re serious?” Nick said to Mr. Detwiller.

“Most sure,” the gentleman replied. “We will talk in a few days, but we don’t want anyone else getting it.”

It was more than Nick could take in.

No. No one would want Love—Kit’s bed sculpture—for their homes. But the Art Institute of Chicago?  The second-largest art museum in the United States?

It seemed impossible. But then, was anything impossible for Kit Jeffries? Whatever the young man believed in strongly enough seemed to come true for him. It was a fantasy come true.

And Kit—his little department store elf—was Nick’s dream come true.

 

 

“Hi,” said Kit.

The kid in the torn jeans and the messy hair jumped, eyes wide and frightened. “Ah…. I’m not doing nothing!”

Kit smiled. “It’s okay. Do you like it?”

The kid sighed. “I do. I wish I could do stuff like this.”

“Do you like art?”

“Like it? I love it. It’s all I did in high school—all I wanted to be was an artist—even though my mom and dad said only fags and girls were artists.”

Kit winced at that word—fags.

“I’m sorry to hear that. It’s not true, you know.”

“What?” Suddenly the kid looked like he was about to cry.

“Not all artists are… gay, or girls.”

The kid trembled for a minute. “But I am.” he whispered.

Kit winked. “I assume you mean gay, because you certainly aren’t a girl.”

The kid blushed. “Are you the artist?” He indicated the room with an expansive wave.

“I sure am.” He held out his hand. “I’m—”

“Kit! I need to talk to you!” It was Nick. He eyed the boy-man. Then looked away. “This is big, Kit. Really big.”

“Oh?” Kit said, caught up by Nick’s excitement, but not too pleased with the way he was looking at the boy. No, it wasn’t desire—it was worse.

Oh, my grumble monkey. You’ve come a long way, but

“The Art Institute of Chicago wants Love.”

Kit staggered back.

What?

The Art Institute of Chicago? Wanted one of his pieces? But… but was that possible?

“It might only be a temporary exhibit at first, but do you have any idea what this means?”

Kit staggered again, afraid he might fall. But then Nick was there, arm around him, and then pulling him into a tight hug.

“Yes,” he whispered. “I do know what that means!”

A fantasy come true.

“Excuse me” came a voice.

They turned to see the dirty kid standing there, looking up at Nick with big fear-filled eyes.

Nick stood straighter, and for a second Kit was afraid he might be rude.

“Yes?” Nick said, voice a bit stiff, but not ugly.

Thank you, Kit thought.

“How may I help you?”

“Are… are you Nicolas St. George?”

“Yes,” Nick said. “And who are you?”

“I’m Kenny,” the kid said. “Your nephew.”

 

 

They were sitting in the office in the back of the gallery.

Nephew?

“My mom threw me out.”

His sister? She threw her own son out?

Just like Mom and Dad did to me?

Nick looked at the young man, and yes, he was just the right age. It had been eleven years since he’d seen the boy. Damn. He—Kenny—even looked like Nick’s sister.

“I can’t believe it,” Nick said. “I figured I’d never see you again. Because…. Well, because….”

“You’re gay,” Kenny finished.

Nick nodded dumbly.

“Mom has been saying it for years. That you’re gay. Except she called you a fairy. And I’ve so wanted to talk to you. To meet you! But I knew, I just knew that if I spoke to you before I was eighteen, that not only would she have a cow that I was gay, but that I would get you in trouble. I know Mom. I know what she would have done. Accused you of turning me gay. Molesting me.” He shuddered. “Then a few weeks ago, on my eighteenth, I told her.”

“And… she….”

“Threw me out. Gave me a half hour to pack. I could only take a few things. I couldn’t make it too much to carry.”

Nick could only stare. Be amazed by how calm the young man was.

“How have you made it all this time? Where have you been staying?”

Kenny shrugged. “Here and there,” he replied. And then quite suddenly he burst into tears.

To Nick’s surprise, he found himself standing and going to Kenny. Kneeling. And taking him into his arms.

He looked up at Kit.

What would they do?

They couldn’t let him walk the streets….

“What am I going to do, Uncle Nick?” Kenny wailed.

Then, before he realized he was saying it: “You’ll stay with us. Your mother can’t say anything. You’re legal.”

Kenny pulled back just enough to look at Nick with red, tear-filled eyes.

Nick looked at Kit again, wondering what he would say. They had finally reached the time when they could be alone together. They’d waited so long. But now?

Kit smiled and came to them, wrapped his arms around them.

“I’m so proud of you, my grumble monkey. So proud.”

“You don’t mind?”

“Not at all. I insist. We have our whole lives ahead of us.”

 

 

Later, Kenny pointed at the huge cake that Kit had made and placed in the middle of the dessert and drinks table. No one had touched it.

“Is that marzipan?” Kenny asked.

Kit nodded sadly. “I guess no one likes it….”

Kenny laughed. “Silly. It’s not that. They don’t know it’s a cake.”

“Huh?”

Kit looked again. He’d spent hours making the thin-rolled confection look like one of his flapping sheet pieces. Then it hit him. He began to laugh.

“They think it’s a sculpture,” Kenny said.

Kit shook his head. “You any good at cutting cake?”

Kenny smiled. “I sure am!”

“Because you know what my mother always said?”

“What did your mother always say?” came a familiar woman’s voice.

Kit turned and let out a squeal. “Mom! I thought you said you guys couldn’t make it. Nick said he tried to talk you into it and you said no.”

“We wanted to surprise you. Nick was in on it.”

Then he felt arms surround him from behind him. “Surprise, my little elf.”

He spun in his lover’s arms. “Taller than you!”

“Gosh,” said Kenny. “Even I’m taller than Uncle Nick.”

And they all laughed.

“But what was it your mom always said?” Nick asked.

“Sometimes you just have to cut the cake. People are afraid to be the first.”

“Especially when it’s as gorgeous as that one,” Kit’s mother exclaimed.

Then Kenny cut the cake and even served it.

Everyone was amazed that is was cake, and they loved it.

Later that night they showed Kenny his new room.

“You’re sure you don’t mind?” Kenny asked.

“Not at all,” Kit and Nick chorused.

“But there will be rules,” Kit said.

“Hey!” Kenny cried. “I’m eighteen!’

“And under our roof. No dating boys unless you introduce them to us, no boys in your room after nine unless the bedroom door is open—”

“Kit!”

“That’s Uncle Kit to you, young man!”

And later in their room, Nick asked again. “Are you sure?”

“Surer than anything in the world. I was watching him serve that cake, watching my mom help, and it broke my heart. To have a family that loves me so much and to see what your family has done to the two of you. I just don’t understand.”

“You’re the only family I need now,” Nick said. “I love you, my elf.”

“I love you, monkey.”

“Not grumble monkey?”

Kit shrugged. “I think you’re getting rid of the grumble part. Just like in my mom’s story.”

Nick smiled. “Well, what do you know?”

“What do you know, indeed,” said Kit.

Did you enjoy B.G. Thomas’s story? If so, check out the rest of his books and take 25% off at checkout with the code BGThomasFlash. Coupon code is good for one order per customer through February 28, 2015.

The Last Call from Sue

January 31, 2015

This is the last post from me tonight. I’m off to the Dreamspinner Facebook page to talk nonesense there for a couple of hours.

Thank you to everyone who has left a message. Denise Dechene, you and your husband made me laugh. You are my winner for Stolen Dreams.

Good night. Thank you for keeping me company.

StolenDreamsFS

Comic Relief characters

January 31, 2015

I am very fond of my comic relief characters, like Elroy in Stolen Dreams and Jez in The Next Call. I’ve pretty much got them in all my books because I do feel you can’t have high emotion and not have some relief. From Frankie in Frankie & Al to Paul from the Isle series, someone has to provide the comic touch.  That’s definitely how my family works, When my father died we spent the evening eating fish and chips, and telling bad jokes. My dad would definitely have appreciated the humour.

NextCall[The]FS

I often find myself having to reign in my characters’ natural urge to crack a joke at the wrong moment, such as in the middle of a row or worse, sex. When it comes to it, they often get diverted into talking/thinking about all sorts of things not relevant to the subject at hand. Sometimes I wonder if the readers are yelling “Bloody get on with sex!” Replace bloody with one of your choosing.

Do you ever read Readers Digest? Does it still exist? There was a short story where a writer had waxed lyrical about their hero/heroines cherry red lips, creamy skin, eyes like chocolate etc. They had obviously gone overboard with the food references because the book was sent back by their editor with a short comment ‘eat then write’.

That’s not  a bad idea. I’m getting distracted. I shall go off for my dinner and be back for one last post before my Facebook chat. However I won’t leave you without one question.

Question 4. What’s the best joke you’ve ever heard? Leave it in the comments to enter the giveaway.

Excerpt from The Next Call:

“AND YOU suck at blowjobs.” Tam sneered as he walked out of the door.

Mark thought that was kind of the point.

Mark’s colleague and supposed best mate Jez laughed so loudly he disturbed the old blokes at the front of the pub watching the footie, and they turned en masse to glare at him.

Jez ignored them and turned back to Mark. “He said you suck at giving head? Harsh!” The git was far too pleased with himself. “Then what did he do?”

“He took off with whoever he could find on Grindr.”

“Oh bugger. Tam’ll be back.”

Mark didn’t care if his ex-boyfriend returned or not. “If he wants any of his gear, he’d better. I dumped it all by the wheelie bin.”

“When do they pick up?”

“Tuesday.”

“He can fuck Friday through Monday and pick his gear up early Tuesday.”

Mark scowled at him. “Nice to see you’re on my side.”

Jez shrugged. “You’re better off without him. You know that. The bloke’s a waste of oxygen.”

“Pretty, though.” Tam had been slim and pretty with hair like ripe corn and blue eyes with dark lashes. And an eight-inch cock that he knew just where to stick. His cock was pretty too.

“Meh. He was too up his own arse for me.” Jez preferred his men large and docile.

What to do with Flawed Characters

January 31, 2015

I like writing flawed characters and Stolen Dreams is chock full of them. They are so much more interesting to write than Prince Charming. I have read that many actors like playing villains and see them as parts they can get their teeth into. The hero – pah – boring boring. Even better if you can be the hero and the villain with the character. Even kids’ movies have picked that trope. I can think of two films where Prince Charming really wasn’t. Mine aren’t so much heroes and/or villains but people who make wrong/stupid/disastrous decisions in their lives and have to answer for the consequences.

Bonus Points if you can answer question 3. Don’t forget to leave an answer to my questions on any of the posts today to enter the giveaway, and visit my blog tour to enter the rafflecopter.

Question 3: Name a movie where the Prince Charming was not a nice guy at all. I know this is a difficult one so feel free to tell your favourite villain as an alternative.

StolenDreamsFS

Excerpt:

Elroy throwing coffee over Ed and Jase was kind of inevitable. After all, it was spillage number three, and Morgan had totally just jinxed the situation. Numbly resigned, Morgan stood back and watched the drama unfold as the two men stood in the middle of MC’s, gasping as they were covered in hot, milky coffee.

Elroy looked horrified as he clutched his empty cup. As he had turned to speak to Jase and Ed, he had tripped over a bag left near the counter. “Fuck me. I am so sorry, guys!”

“Elroy, here.” Marilyn threw him a damp cloth, and Elroy attempted to pat the coffee off Ed’s face and clothing.

“Get off me.” Ed flailed his arms, trying to escape Elroy’s ministrations.

“I think we’re going to need the mop, Marilyn, and a fresh towel for Jase.” Elroy turned to catch the cloth from the barista. As he turned back, he winked at Morgan.

Addicted to Coffee: the confessions of an author

January 31, 2015

StolenDreams_headerbanner

 

Hello, my name is Sue Brown and I am addicted to coffee.

If you read any of my books do I really need to make that confession? Let’s face it, my characters are always addicted to coffee or tea. I drink gallons of the dark, fragrant liquid a year. Recently I had the flu and for nearly three weeks I couldn’t drink coffee. It was hell, I tell you, hell. The taste was just foul and I despaired of ever drinking it again. I even cried once or twice as I threw another cup away. Six weeks on and I’m just as addicted. I do drink Earl Grey tea but no one is ever going to convince me of the merits of green tea.

coffee

 

I based Stolen Dreams around a coffee shop which allowed me to indulge my passion. And yes, if I could own a coffee shop I certainly would. Maybe one day.

It was over coffee that the first editor, a few years back in its first incarnation, and I nearly came to blows. She naturally did the things where they look for words that are mentioned too much and should possibly be swapped out for something else. Coffee was a culprit. She suggested that I should reduce the number of ‘coffees’. “But the book is set in a coffee shop,” says I. “Couldn’t they drink something else?” she asked. It was one of the few times I have said ‘over my dead body’ to an editor. Sorry, editor.

You may notice as the excerpts progress that they have one thing in common – apart from coffee. Elroy is the comic relief in what is a full-on in your face story. It’s why I’m using him today. I want you to read Morgan and Shae’s story, but Elroy you can have for free. Seriously, you can take him.

Don’t forget to leave an answer to my questions on any of the posts today to enter the giveaway, and visit my blog tour to enter the rafflecopter.

Question 2. What drink could you not do without? 

Excerpt:

With a put-upon sigh, Elroy wandered over to the counter to accept a refill.

“Everything evens out and stop changing the subject,” he said over his shoulder.

“There is no subject changing,” Morgan called after him. He was lying, of course, but he could try denial for as long as possible.

“Keep telling yourself that, sweetheart.” Elroy came back with a fresh drink.

Morgan told himself repeatedly what happened next wasn’t really Elroy’s fault. The incident could have been caused by Elroy’s flip-flops or Marco’s overfilling the cup or even Morgan’s fault for placing the sofa just there. Whichever way, the results were the same. Hot coffee stings like a bitch, Morgan discovered as Elroy tripped over the leg of the sofa and his cup, full to the brim with milky coffee, did a graceful somersault, the contents landing squarely over Morgan.

There was a shocked silence in MC’s as Morgan sat there dripping hot coffee, the wind knocked out of him. As he drew in a shaky breath, Marco came rushing over with a wet cloth.

“Are you okay, Morgan?”

Elroy rose shakily to his feet. “You worry about him but not a paying customer,” he grumbled.

Marco didn’t stop mopping the coffee off Morgan’s face and shirt. “One, you never pay for anything and two, you’re not the one covered in boiling coffee.”

“That’s so not the point. I could have broken a leg.” Elroy looked around at everybody still watching them and gave them an airy wave. “I’m fine, folks. You can go back to what you were doing.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Something About Chinese Food by Felicitas Ivey

January 31, 2015

Title: There’s Something About Chinese Food

Author: Felicitas Ivey

Pairing: Ryan and Wil from There’s Something About Spot

Prompt: chopsticks

Ryan wandered out of his workshop and into the yard after a morning of woodworking. He casually stripped out of the clothes he was wearing, shaking all the wood chips and dust out of them. He didn’t want to bring it all into the house, it would be too much of a pain to deal with.

Wil looked over at him, from the garden he was weeding and smiled. “Is that a hint?” he called out.

“I’m not getting all this in the house,” Ryan said. He smiled. “But I wouldn’t say no—”

He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence. Wil pounced on him.

 

Ryan was drowsing in bed afterwards. He was surprised they had made it to the bed, but once Wil started kissing him, things had blurred a bit. “I should make us something to eat.”

He didn’t know what time it was, but he felt a little bit hungry and knew he needed to eat something soon.

“Let’s go out,” Wil replied. “There’s a new place in town.”

Ryan looked at him. Town was at least as forty-five minute drive and they would have to take a shower. He was comfortable and not that ambitious. And Wil rarely wanted to go out, content to be at home where he didn’t have people pulling at him all the time to solve their problems. “And you want to check it out?” he asked.

Wil sighed. “Miss Serenity asked me to talk to the owners.”

Ryan echoed his sigh. Wil’s position in the community was as the priest for the local, odd to some pagan practices. They worshiped Tsthug’wa, an ancient and corrupted deity, whom they all hoped would stay sleeping and unaware of them, so it wouldn’t eat them and worse. To placate the god to keep him sleeping, Wil performed a ceremony every Midsummer, erotic and exhausting, with Ryan as a willing participant as he had been since the beginning when he stumbled into the village years ago.

“So not so much a date, as checking the place out,” Ryan teased him. “And what is she expecting?”

Wil shrugged. “I don’t know.” He hesitated. “It can be something as simple as she doesn’t like them to something a little more… serious. And it isn’t anything she felt she could deal with on her own, either.”

Which meant Wil would have to fix whatever the issue was. And it might kill him to do so, if Miss Serenity didn’t know how to deal with it. Ryan ignored the tightening in his gut and mustered a smile. “I bet it’s nothing more than bad Mushu Pork,” he said. “We get showered, head to town and take Spot with us. If the food’s crap, you know he’ll eat it.”

And Spot would kill anyone or thing which would threaten either of them.

Wil nodded, a grateful look in his eyes for Ryan putting a brave face on it.

“I love this plan!” Ryan said, the false cheer thick in his voice.

He made a mental note to eat a snack now, because he wasn’t sure he was going to get any food later.

 

They got to town a couple of hours later, Spot hanging his head out the window from his place at Wil’s feet. His tentacles were blowing in the breeze, as his body wiggled with excitement over being in the car. He was about seventy pounds now, long and thin, moving like an inchworm to get around. Spot was fast, a deadly inchworm with razor teeth underneath his flailing tentacles and the killer instinct of a Dark Spawn, for all his adorable awkwardness.

Ryan pulled into a parking spot down the street from the restaurant. The town of Hidden Valley was small, a couple of short streets and a collection of odd shops. The valley was mostly farms and cut off from the rest of the world. No cell reception, no Internet; it was a quiet place you found by accident, because even government spy satellites didn’t seem to know it existed. Once you found it, all you saw was a quaint New England town, trapped in some sort of time warp.

The new restaurant seemed to have popped up overnight, in a space at the edge of town. That alone put Ryan on edge. It didn’t fit in with the rest of the town’s buildings – a collection of wood and brick buildings, staid and respectable. This place was a garish yellow and red, in the style Ryan mentally dubbed ‘Tacky Chinese”, with odd colored bloated dragons and a pagoda styled roof. The sign in front was flashing neon, proclaiming the place to be  ‘Black Lotus’.

“Tacky,” Ryan said after staring at the place.

“Dangerous,” Wil told him. “They aren’t being subtle.”

“The sign can be seen in the North Pole,” Ryan commented dryly. “These people have never heard of the word.”

Ryan opened the storage box between the two seats, pulling out a blue vest, sized for Spot. In white lettering on each side, ‘Service Animal’ was printed.

“Spot is going in with us because I need him to watch out for me,” Ryan explained as he strapped it on to Spot.

“I see,” Wil said, obviously not understanding.

“It’s a cheat and I am being an ass taking advantage of such things when Spot isn’t a service animal, but you can’t kick one out of a restaurant.” Ryan finished putting the vest on Spot. “I bought it on a whim and kept it in the car. I just remembered it now.”

“Spot likes it,” Wil said, leaning over to kiss him.

 

They walked into the restaurant with a surprisingly well-behaved Spot at Ryan’s side. Ryan shivered when he walked through the airlock to the second door, feeling a little odd for a second. Wil slipped his hand out of Ryan’s, a frown on his face as Ryan looked around the lobby.

The restaurant was empty, even if it was dinnertime. Ryan didn’t remember seeing any other cars parked at the place, but he thought they might have been on the other side of the building. He tightened his grip on Spot’s leash; unnerved the place was empty, and wondering what was wrong. But the place wasn’t as tackily decorated on the inside as the outside led him to be believe it would be.

The room was dimly lit, trying for a romantic atmosphere, for some reason. There was a huge fire pit in the middle and Ryan hoped it wasn’t used for cooking, even though there seemed to be something smoking on it. The air was scented a mixture of subtle spices and something sweet, which stuck to the back of this throat. And Ryan noticed there weren’t any windows in the place, which sent a chill down his back, because he would have sworn there had been a couple of them in the front and on the sides.

The host or a waiter hurried up to them, bowing and nodding. Ryan was struck at how short he was. Miss Serenity, as bowed as she was by age, would be taller than the man. He looked around, catching a glimpse of another couple of men, and he thought they were even shorter than the man in front of him.

The man caught a glimpse of Spot and shook his head, even as he looked at Wil. “And how may we help you?”

The man’s accent was heavy and Ryan thought it could be Chinese, but it didn’t sound like any Chinese accent he had heard in the movies or on the streets of Chinatown in New York; but China was big place and these guys might be from the back end of nowhere Hicksville to sound like that. But he could understand him, which was the important thing to him.

Ryan thought that was an odd thing to say, but Wil answered coolly, “A table for two.”

“Of course.” The waiter paused and added, “I assure you, sir, the menu will be to your liking.”

“I will address the chef if it isn’t,” Wil told him.

The man bowed again and led them to a table in the back corner of the room. Ryan wasn’t surprised to see it showed them the entire room. The host dropped off two menus, stating, “Fei Long will be your waiter.”

“And you are?” Wil asked.

The man hesitated for a split second, “Sheng She, honored one.”

He walked away and Ryan picked up his menu, “So I guess he knows who you are.”

The table was set for two, plates with red and blue pagodas, dragons and weird looking flowers painted on them. There were both silverware and metal chopsticks provided, with some sort of black flower floating in a crystal bowl as the centerpiece of the table. It was elegant, with white linen tablecloths and nothing that he had been expecting from the outside of the place.

“What I am,” Wil said inexplicably with a smile, before picking up his own menu. “I’ve never had Chinese before.”

Ryan looked at the menu. “I don’t even think this is in Chinese. And it isn’t in English, because I can’t read it. So I don’t know what this place is.”

The lettering could be Chinese, but it looked off. Too many or too few lines in the characters and they were wavy instead of straight. Ryan’s head jerked up when he heard Sheng She talking loudly with another man. It could be an argument or they could be talking about sports for all he knew, but the tone of voice for both men sounded off.

“That isn’t Chinese,” he informed Wil.

“I didn’t expect it to be,” Wil told him. “I’m sorry, I should explain these things to you better.”

“Eh?” Ryan shrugged. Wil was being Wil and dealing with the crap he had to deal with being a priest wasn’t something he wanted to do. “And just let me say, I don’t know if I want to eat here.”

‘That may be wise,” Wil said, putting his menu down. “I don’t think I’d want Spot eating here.”

“Honored one, this is a vegetation… vegetarian  restaurant. I am Fei Long and I will serve you tonight.”

Fei Ling was tiny, about the size of a six year old, but very round. Ryan thought he looked like a dumpling of a man. Ryan swore he hadn’t seen the man walk up; he just seemed to appear out of thin air.

“Vegetarian?” Wil smiled coolly at him.

“There is no Long Pork on the menu,” Fei Long told him with a laugh. It wasn’t a jolly laugh, but the sly, mocking one of a bully.

Ryan had no idea what he was talking about, but whatever Long Pork was, the mention of it infuriated Wil.

“Shall Spot explore your kitchen to tell me the truth of your words?” Wil asked glacially.

Fei Long looked confused, until Spot poked his head out from underneath the table. He sniffed at Fei Long for a couple of seconds, before settling back underneath the table with a small growl in the back of his throat.

Fei Long froze, petrified, before he hissed, “You wouldn’t—! This isn’t—!”

“Spot’s a service animal,” Ryan said over his sputtering protests. “You can’t kick him out of the place.”

“He is human!” Fei Long shrieked, before switching back to his own language.

“As am I!” Wil snarled.

Spot poked his head out again, curious and nervous about all the shouting.

“You’re upsetting Spot,” Ryan said calmly, petting the Dark Spawn. “Seriously, why does everyone freak out when they see him?”

Fei Long stared at Ryan for a second, before turning to Wil. “The Human—”

“My consort.” Wil said flatly.

“—can control a Spawn?” he finished.

“Just Spot,” Ryan told him, as the being in question wiggled under his attention. The rest of the pack was a little standoffish with him. “And pork is fine, I’m not Jewish or Arabic, but you did mention this was a vegetarian restaurant, so I don’t know what the fuss is.”

“Long Pork isn’t a type of swine,” Wil said gently. “It is a phrase used to describe human flesh when it is eaten.”

Ryan swallowed hard. “That’s kind of gross.” He paused. “I think I read someplace it wasn’t a good idea because stuff getting stuck in your brain from eating people, aside from it being not a socially acceptable idea to eat the neighbors.”

Ryan flushed when the other two looked at him like he was crazy. “I’ll shut up now,” he mumbled.

“Your consort is a prize,” Fei Long said. His tone seemed to think Ryan was the booby prize.

“I don’t think the “Black Lotus” would be a good fit in our little town,” Wil said, as he stood up. “Leave it.”

The command was spoken in an eerie voice, one Ryan usually only heard during rituals. Ryan rose to follow him out of the restaurant. He really didn’t want to eat here, the smell of the place making him queasy now.

That tone brought Sheng She out from wherever he had been hiding. “You cannot tell us what to do! We are Tcho-Tcho, Priest, and not under your sway!” he thundered.

“My land is under the protection of Tsthug’wa,” Wil told him coldly. “And as his priest, I banish you from it.”

Ryan didn’t know what was going on, but he grabbed the chopsticks as a weapon. The knife wasn’t a better choice because there was no edge on it. Both it and the fork looked fragile and off to him now. He could poke these two with them if he had to, even as he kept a tight hold on Spot’s leash. The Spawn was pressed against his legs, poised to jump at either Tcho-Tcho, whatever they were.

“My god,” Sheng She started, pulling himself up to his full height.

Wil said something in an odd language, the words slippery and hurtful. It was like nothing Ryan had ever heard before and he swallowed hard, dizzy all of a sudden.

The Tcho-Tcho all winced and stepped back, a snarl appearing on Sheng She’s face, before he started spitting out odd sounds. Ryan couldn’t call them words. They were sharp sounds of hate, which caused Wil to bare his teeth in a grimace, even as his continued to speak. Wil stood his ground, adding strange finger waggling gestures to the words he was saying and Ryan just stood frozen, Spot wrapping himself around him for protection.

“You are not where you think you are, priest,” Sheng She snarled at Wil.

Wil smiled at him, “I know exactly where I am. Do you?”

Ryan shivered when he said that, wondering if they were still in Hidden Valley. But the question stopped Sheng She for a moment and Ryan saw the shocked look on his face. “You dared!”

Wil laughed. It wasn’t a happy laugh. “My god is one of this earth, this plane of existence, while Ch’augn’ar F!aung is of the outer veil. We are not in his place of power, as you think you are, since I placed this dwelling on the blasted planes. You forget there are those who are much greater then even our gods.”

“And what does that mean?” Sheng She asked. “You speak in riddles. Are you trying to buy time before we feast upon you and your pet?”

Wil smiled wolfishly at them. Ryan thought it was both incredibly disturbing and incredibly hot at the same time. He was frightened at how turned on he was. He was being threatened by being eaten by these freaks and all he could think of was Wil eating him in another manner, his hot mouth around his cock, sucking him dry.

“He is my consort,” Wil hissed, emphasizing the title. “Prized beyond belief by me and mine.”

“He will be a tasty morsel we will eat in front of you,” Fei Long threatened.

The building shook and Wil grinned. “Ask the Dancer of Madness about the feast he is interested in.”

The Tcho-Tchos looked at him in horror, while Spot unwrapped himself from around Ryan’s legs and started to lead him to the door. Ryan went with him, too shocked to fight him.

Wil waited until he was past him to smile and bow to the others, “Enjoy your discussion with Az’thoth.”

Ryan didn’t know the name, but from the way the blood drained from the others’ faces and the frantic, desperate chant Sheng She started, this god wasn’t either reasonable or nice. He just hoped he didn’t meet it… him… whatever.

Spot had him out the door, with Wil close behind him. As they passed through the airlock, Ryan caught a glimpse of a twisted and blasted landscape, the sky the color of acid. He shivered, but when they walked out of the door, they were back in the town of Hidden Valley.

“We’re not going to have to worry about them again,” Wil said with a smile. “But I’m sorry we didn’t get anything to eat.”

“At least we got a pair of chopsticks out of it,” Ryan said trying to make light of what just happened, realizing he still held them. He started shivering, his mind trying desperately to forget the split second of whatever he had just seen.

“But not dinner,” Wil replied, “And I know you miss Chinese food sometimes.”

“If we had eaten there, we’d been hungry an hour later,” Ryan said. “So why don’t I drive home and cook supper?”

“But first something else,” Wil said leaning over and kissing him.

Ryan moaned, kissing him back fiercely, pressing his whole body against Wil, feeling their cocks rub together. Wil was as hard and as turned on as he was. He dropped the chopsticks he was holding to wrap his arms the other man.

Ryan’s moans degenerated into whimpers when Wil undid his pants, pushing them down to his knees, kneading his ass for a minute as he kissed him. Ryan didn’t care they were in town and Spot had wandered off someplace to get into mischief, since he dropped his leash. He shuddered when Wil slipped a finger into his ass, wiggling it around a little until he found that special spot inside him.

Ryan was still loose from earlier in the day, so there was a little discomfort which he forgot about when Wil started finger fucking him, rubbing against his prostrate, causing little bolts of lighting to fire off in his brain, reducing it to jelly.

“I love you like this,” Wil crooned. “You’re so beautiful, so responsive to my touch.”

Ryan just rubbed against Wil, his cock wanting the friction of the other man’s jeans as he got closer and closer to his orgasm. This was what he wanted, what he needed as he chased after the pleasure Wil was giving him. He didn’t know how long it was before he hid his face in Wil’s neck, muffling the scream of joy that tore out of him when he came, spraying the two of them. Wil held him as the aftershocks shuddered through him, whispering in his ear in a language he didn’t understand.

“We’re going to get arrested,” Ryan said sleepily.

He was worn out from all the adrenaline that had coursed through his system by almost getting killed and by what Wil just did with him.

“No one’s going to see us,” Wil promised him.

Wil then opened the door to the Jeep and maneuvered Ryan into the passenger’s seat. Ryan sat down, not caring that his jeans were down around his ankles and his shirt really didn’t cover the fact he wasn’t wearing any underwear.

“But I’ll wait until we’re further out of town to have my pleasure with you,” Wil promised him.

Ryan stretched and wiggled in his seat, looking forward to that. It was insane to want Wil again, but he just had walked away from something horrifying and he wanted to celebrate that too. What just had happened hadn’t even whetted his appetite. Making love in the moonlight for several hours would be a fine celebration for the both of them.

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