May 24, 2014
One more time, the rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4059d62/. Rafflecopter goes through Monday the 26th.
See Release Party Post #5 for the party-specific contest details (different from the rafflecopter). Entries for this will be accepted until 10:00 PM tonight, then I’ll throw names in the had for a winner.
Comments on any post received before 10 PM will be answered, and if they’re later than that I’ll strill try to answer, promise!
Important: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t say it enough. You’ve all made the day a success, and I hope the rest of your weekend is likewise.
More Important: Keep reading, whatever you read. See you around soon, I hope.
Most Important: “Do anything, but let it produce joy.” ― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
May 24, 2014
I was going to say something witty, but I changed my mind. Just the pictures:
Consider this an org chart, with the big boss at the top, a couple of levels of mid-management, then me, the worker bee, at the bottom.
And last, but not least, the company counselor, Bear.
May 24, 2014
No intro, except to say this is near the beginning, they’re on their way to California to celebrate Luki’s health, checking into a hotel.
Sonny [...] stood close behind Luki as they checked in—close enough to feel his heat and the occasional bump of his hard-muscled round ass. No elevators in this old building, which reminded Sonny of an old bordello such as might have been featured in a western movie. They took the stairs, three flights.
Before they started up, Luki stood aside and signaled with a tilt of his head that Sonny should go first. Sonny looked a question at him, so Luki leaned in, put his full lips right up next to Sonny’s ear, and said, “Because I want to watch your ass.”
Sonny’s legs felt a little rubbery—possibly weak from all the blood rushing to a central location, he thought. But he made a valiant effort to climb gracefully. At the third step from the top, he stumbled a little. It wouldn’t have been bad but Luki said, “Easy, baby,” and that flustered Sonny more. He somehow put his foot on the next step in such a way that he fell back against Luki, his ass hitting right about midchest. Thank goodness Luki’s strength hadn’t diminished over the years. He simply planted both feet and stood strong. He dropped the bags he had in his right hand and put both his hands on Sonny’s hips.
“You’re okay, baby,” he crooned, “Just take a second to get yourself together.”
“Are you laughing at me?”
“It’s a good thing I love you, Luki.”
“Yeah, it is. Thank you.”
“I’m fine now, and you’d better stop touching me until we get into the room and lock the door.”
“Damn, baby! That sounds like some kind of promise.”
After Luki stashed their bags in the little closet and twisted the deadbolts closed, he turned around and leaned back against the door. His voice hoarse, not too much louder than a whisper, he said, “Strip, Sonny. I really, really need to see that body I’ve been dreaming about all day.”
Sonny felt a flash of heat explode outward from his belly, turning itself into raw, undiluted passion as it traveled, stealing his breath and sending blood supply where he was sure it would be needed most. He sucked in a shaky breath, and Luki’s face, without the expression ever really changing, registered his satisfaction. He made it obvious that he loved playing Sonny like a sexual marionette. Sonny laughed a little, because he loved Luki playing him, too.
“Luki,” he breathed.
Luki’s eyebrows went up, questioning. “Something on your mind, baby?”
Sonny responded, articulate as always at these times, “Oh!” The sound that emerged was mostly breath, and Sonny half expected Luki to ask him what he said. But he didn’t; he wasn’t apparently that easily distracted.
His tone even, clear, conversational, Luki said, “Sonny, do you like that shirt?”
“Shirt?” Oh yeah, Sonny, you’ve got it bad. Apparently you can’t breathe hard enough to support brain function.
A smile twitched on Luki’s lips. “Shirt,” he said, nodding. “Because you see, Sonny Bly James, if I don’t hear you say the magical word, ‘no,’ which you know you can say any time, right?”
Sonny knew he had to respond to this coherently or Luki would back away. Luki took consent very, very seriously, even though they’d been married for ten years. Luki backing away was the last thing Sonny wanted—he loved being so deliciously frightened, so gloriously exhilarated, and so insistently, wantonly inflamed with the desire Luki kindled in him. It wasn’t often that Luki turned the tap full on like this—full command mode—and when he did, Sonny was not about to waste the opportunity. He needed to answer, but it was hard to clear his mind. He just kept thinking about touching himself, about reaching down into the front of his jeans and wrapping his hand around his straining erection.
But it was like Luki could read his mind, and as soon as he let his hand travel a few inches in that direction, Luki’s expression changed and he said, “Nah-ah. No. Don’t touch your cock, baby. Maybe later, not now.”
Sonny’s breath flew out again, “Oh!”
“Now, before we go any farther. You haven’t answered me. You know I won’t play, baby—as much as I want to—if I don’t hear that you know you can refuse at any time and that you’re saying yes at the moment. You need to answer, sweetie, ’kay?”
Luki had turned a quarter turn away, and broken eye contact as he finished speaking, and Sonny knew that had been deliberate. His husband, his sexy, sweet, loving, considerate husband was giving him a little breather so that he could answer articulately. So weird, Sonny thought, after all this time, when Luki puts his spell on me, I still lose control. He supposed it was because Luki had so much personal power, and because Sonny had learned what a glorious payoff there was to be had in giving Luki everything, at times like this.
But Luki’s ploy to cool things just enough had worked. Though Sonny stayed just as hard, he breathed an easier breath and he felt cool, dusky air wash over his sweat from the slightly open window. “Yes,” he said, clear and only a little breathy. “I know it’s my choice, Luki, and I say yes, now. You know that. You know I want you. I always do.”
“Well,” Luki said, turning back to face him this time with a mischievous-looking little smile playing around the corners of his mouth. “Yes, in fact I do know that, and… it’s probably what makes me want you so much. So take the shirt off.”
The change in Luki’s voice with that last sentence was so profound, sudden, and sexy that Sonny just gasped again.
“Now. Take it off now, or I rip it off.”
Luki’s mouth felt like it had dried out completely. He struggled to maintain even breathing, to slow his heart, and not be so intensely aware of the blood coursing through his sex. Sonny had put himself so clearly on offer, and Luki wasn’t nearly the man of steel he appeared. He was almost senseless with need for this man, his beautiful husband, but he held on, held iron reins in his hands, for Sonny—and for himself.
But Sonny’s “yes” was more than consent, for Luki. Consent had always been important to him. He knew his own physical and mental strength, knew he could make people do what he wanted, but he’d been on the opposite end of that equation once when he was young. Once was enough to teach him that anything short of a definite “yes,” at any point, is best taken as “no.” And even now, even with Sonny, it mattered a lot. Maybe it mattered even more since Jackie’s abduction by Soto, and Sonny’s own abduction by the obsessed narcissist, Harold Breslin.
Yes, consent remained important, but the way Sonny stood before him was so much more than that. He waited, so open, so willing, so wanting. So mine, Luki thought, watching Sonny decide whether taking off his shirt would be a good idea, or whether perhaps it would be more fun to let Luki make good on his threat. But Sonny liked the shirt, Luki knew, and had enough sense working to decide to preserve it.
Luki chewed his lip, watching. Then he said, “Mine.”
“Strip, baby. Everything.”
Sonny had enough sauce left in him to make his eyes glitter in challenge as he fashioned something close to a striptease out of removing his clothes. When he got to his underwear—red silk boxers very much like those they’d argued over a decade ago—Luki couldn’t help a small chuckle and a smile in his eyes. “Hey,” he said. “Nice boxers. Those are mine, you know.”
“Well, we can fight over them later, love. Right now just be sure that when you take them off, you don’t touch any of my other stuff.”
Sonny got a smart-ass, I’m sure I’m going to get in trouble for this look, and said, “You mean, my stuff?”
Luki half regretted letting Sonny catch his breath, except this made it even more fun. “No, baby.” He shook his head slowly, deliberately. “I meant what I said. You’re mine, at least for the moment. You need to do exactly what I want you to do. It’ll be good, I promise. ’Kay?”
“’Kay, yes, Luki.”
“Good.” Forestalling Sonny’s move to take off the boxers, Luki took two steps closer so that he had Sonny within his arms’ reach. He held Sonny’s gaze, saw in his eyes a reflection of his own softening expression. He couldn’t be this close to Sonny without love, admiration, and need infiltrating his dominance, but he didn’t care. He’d already established who was in charge, and Sonny willingly waited for his commands. He raised his hand and ran his thumb across Sonny’s lips, aware of Sonny’s breath catching when he broached that plum-red seal and pushed his broad, flat thumb into Sonny’s mouth. His own gut did a little flip when Sonny tongued it and sucked.
Luki retrieved his thumb and leaned in so that only their chests—Sonny’s bare and his fully clothed—grazed against each other as he laid a sensual, slow, but carefully limited kiss on Sonny’s lips. Standing upright again, he reached behind Sonny’s head and pulled the tie from his ponytail, then wrapped Sonny’s thick mane around his hand. Holding firmly, he looked Sonny straight on once again and said the words he knew Sonny practically lived for, after all this time of hearing them, after learning how much Luki really meant them.
“Sonny Bly James,” he said. “You are the most beautiful thing that ever happened to the world. And I love you.”
The shine in Sonny’s eyes changed, and Luki knew that, mingled with Sonny’s glorious desire, gratitude had crept in—what Sonny always felt when Luki made sure he knew how precious he was, how fine he seemed in Luki’s eyes. And now, for Luki, that change added a dose of tenderness that otherwise might not have been in the mix tonight.
“Sweet man,” he whispered. “Sweet, sweet man.” He kissed Sonny again, this time letting Sonny kiss him back and letting go of any remnants of icy restraint. Reluctantly, he broke the kiss. “God, I want you, baby.”
“Luki,” Sonny breathed, and leaned onto Luki’s shoulder.
“Come on, baby. Come here with me.” He took Sonny’s hand and led him to the baby blue velour couch. Standing in front of it he said, “I’ve decided I should take care of my personal belongings here, so hands away from everything, please, while I do this.” Slowly, he stripped the candy red silk away from Sonny’s sweet, round ass, letting the back of his thumb glide along the cleft. Then he pulled the soft, glowing material away from Sonny’s hard, straight, leaking penis, biting his lower lip and holding Sonny’s eyes with his as he drew both his index fingers up from the base to the crown, then used them to tug at the skin, pulling the slit open.
“Oh! Ah, ah, Luki, love….”
Luki smiled, a little. It was always a good sign when Sonny started to lose his ability to articulate. “Yes, baby,” he said, opting not to tease him this time. He started to sit down on the couch but thought better of it and grabbed a handful of towels from the stack of extras on the dresser, laid them out quickly to cover the couch, then sat on one end fully clothed and pulled the magnificently naked and hard Sonny down next him.
“Luki,” Sonny said, “You… clothes.”
“Later, baby, for now, this will do.” As Luki spoke he was undoing his pants and, making sure Sonny was watching—and practically drooling—he reached in and cupped his thick, curved erection and aching testes in his big hand and brought them out into the pale light.
“Baby, lay down here on the couch and put your head in my lap.”
Sonny managed to find his sense of humor and his vocabulary. “Lecher.”
“Mm-hm. You’re right. But you’ll do it.”
“Oh yeah!” Sonny breathed. “Yeah!” And then he curled himself on the couch, propped himself on Luki’s thighs, and put his mouth to work.
Luki couldn’t believe how beautiful Sonny looked. His face was toward him, and he wore a look of ecstasy as he bobbed up and down the shaft of Luki’s cock, stopping for a strong suck on the crown or to lave and suck at his balls. He made tiny sounds in his throat and rocked his pelvis back and forth, even though his cock encountered nothing but air. So Luki leaned sideways, encircled Sonny’s erection, and let Sonny fuck his hand, offering just the right squeeze or twist here or there. Part of him wanted to close his eyes, or let them roll back in his head, but everything was so wonderfully sexy to see, he didn’t want to miss it.
And he didn’t want it to stop either, ever, but after not long enough he knew he would have to. At fifty-one, an orgasm meant time to recover before there could be fucking, and he knew Sonny would want to be fucked, and he wanted to fuck Sonny. It was practically his reason for living.
“Okay, Sonny. Stop.” He actually bodily removed Sonny from his lap. “So good, baby, so very fucking good. Thank you. Here, can you stand up?”
Sonny didn’t answer, but between the two of them he ended up on his feet, and then Luki stood too and led him the five strides to the bed. “Here, baby. Help me get out of these clothes.”
Together, they whisked Luki’s clothes off in under a minute. They lay on the bed, and for a long minute Luki just wrapped himself around his husband and held him tight, skin to skin, head to toe. It was both soothing and exciting for Luki, and judging from Sonny’s more relaxed breathing, Luki guessed it was the same for him. He licked at the sweat trickling down Sonny’s long neck and chuckled when Sonny shivered.
“Are you hot, baby?”
“Um… well, yeah!”
Luki sat up, peeling his body away from Sonny’s, watching as each fine inch of his husband came into view, so very much appreciating the sights along the way. He gathered in a breath and backed away just enough to give the air time to cool between them. Then he blew across the sweat at Sonny’s temples. More breath, more cooling breeze, on down Sonny’s neck, shoulders, arms, torso.
“Feels good, Luki,” Sonny said. “Thanks.”
Luki said nothing but rose up on all fours to kiss Sonny’s sweet, salty, plump lips, and send his tongue diving inside for treasure. He found it in the form of Sonny’s long, pushy tongue, and savored it, stopping occasionally to tickle the top of Sonny’s ridged palate. After the kiss had ended, he dragged his tongue across Sonny’s lips, corner to corner, a little signature move he used more often than not when they made love, because he loved Sonny’s reaction.
“Oh, Luki. Oh, please!” Sonny reached for Luki’s head to pull him back down for more kisses, but Luki evaded him.
“No, no, baby, Shush! Just a little patience.” And instead of kissing Sonny, he moved down his body to find his erect penis—its glans shining with precum and stretched so taut it shone dark in the dusky light. “So fine, baby,” Luki said, and then wasted no more time. The taste of Sonny was like heaven, and Luki could never get enough of running his tongue over the raised veins that ran in graceful curves up and around Sonny’s cock. He took Sonny’s testes into his mouth too, mouthed the firm balls inside, sucked the looser skin out away from them.
Sonny’s hands were wrapped into Luki’s curls and tugging hard, as Sonny’s noises—mostly unconscious, Luki thought—made up a small, private symphony of pleasure, plea, and demand. Luki sat back on his haunches and pushed Sonny’s knees back, spreading his legs wide. “Hold ’em for me, baby, ’kay?” Sonny didn’t answer, but he did do as asked, which Luki felt was doubly nice since that meant his scalp was no longer being mangled. He smiled secretly as he ducked down to take advantage of this new, perfect access to Sonny’s nether parts, including his oh-so-sweet hole. He let his lips and tongue go everywhere they wanted, and then wet his own index finger inside his mouth, and with only a few taps for warning, made his entrance. One finger as deep as a finger can go, Sonny’s breath sucked through his teeth—witness that, even for a finger, spit makes lousy lube.
“Luki, please,” Sonny said.
Luki had a pretty clear idea what he meant—Sonny said those words all the time when they made love, and they’d been at it a while now. But just to be sure—and maybe to annoy Sonny a little—Luki lifted his lips from where they’d been resting on the tip of Sonny’s penis and said, “Please what, baby?”
Now Sonny’s sudden exhale was one of exaggeration, so Luki sat up to watch the fireworks.
“Please….” Luki stopped himself, decided it wasn’t worth torturing his sweet lover this time. He really had no meanness in him, and besides, he knew what Sonny wanted, and he wanted it just as badly, he was sure. So instead of teasing he asked, “You want me to fuck you, Sonny?”
“Oh! Yes, Luki. Please fuck me.”
“Okay, baby, I’m going to do that. I am definitely going to fuck you. Hard. That’s okay?”
“It’s in my jacket pocket.”
“The lube, honey. C’mon, that’s what you were going to ask, right? Please, honey, get it and hurry back.” Sonny sucked in another breath. “Oh, God, Luki, I am so fucking hollow! I need you in me.”
Something in Sonny’s urgency—unusual even for him, lit an extra fire in Luki. For just a minute, he thought he might explode before he ever got to the fucking, but then the need for lube galvanized him. He slapped Sonny’s ass hard enough to sting and said, “Wait, I’ll be right back,” and hopped off the bed and back to the entry where they’d dropped Sonny’s clothes.
Back on the bed, he wasted no time. He kneeled next to Sonny, leaned down to suck and bite for a minute at Sonny’s dark nipples, leaving them scrunched hard and pointing up. “Almost forgot those guys, baby,” he said, and it made Sonny laugh. Delightful, Luki thought.
He took Sonny’s hand, turned it palm up, and squeezed some Boy Butter on his fingers. “Take care of me, will you, sweetie?” Sonny complied, stroking the length of Luki’s cock, slow, spreading the warm grease evenly except an extra lot at the tip, the sensation of which was enough to drive Luki’s own need just a notch higher. “Oh, baby, easy now,” he said, “or I’ll lose it before we get to the really good stuff.”
All the while, he was working Sonny’s hole, back in with a greased finger, then two, in-out-around, then a tap or two on the prostate. Sonny groaned but tightened up in response. “No, baby, don’t do that, relax for me, ’kay?”
“’Kay, Luki.” And, well-practiced as he was, he did. Luki could see his face change as he concentrated on letting go, and then Luki slid his cock in, easy and sweet, using his hands to guide his sweetly curved penis into Sonny’s sweet ass. Then he pushed deep and moved forward, hooking his shoulders under Sonny’s legs to push them high and back.
Sonny was still holding his knees, which wasn’t necessary, and Luki could see Sonny staring at his own long penis and licking his lips. He knew what Sonny wanted. “Baby,” he said. “Just wrap your legs around me. Stroke your cock, sweet man. You want to, I know it, and I want to watch.”
“Oh, Luki. Oh yes, thank you.” As he started to get into the rhythm, matching Luki’s but with an occasional stop and twist he said, “Oh, Luki, Luki, Luki. Good. Good! Oh!”
“Oh, fuck, Sonny! Beautiful, baby. So. Damn. Beautiful.” He punctuated those three words with three direct hits to the prostate. After a few more, he knew Sonny was gone, and he wasn’t far behind his lover.
“Luki?” Sonny’s question, every time. It meant everything, Luki knew, but maybe especially it meant, take care of me while I let it all go.
And Luki so appreciated the question, because it gave Luki the right to be everything he was deep in his soul, for Sonny. To be for his lover, the man, the only man, who loved him, held him, took him there, and kept him all together, safe. “Oh yeah, baby. It’s good. Let it go. Come for me, sweetie. Come fucking all over me. I’ve got you safe.”
And Sonny did, not crying out at all this time, only a long soft exhalation, his cock jerking again and again, releasing sweet-salt-smelling streams of cum, white seed settling in splotches and pools on his own belly and on Luki’s chest. Luki relished the squeeze and spasm of Sonny’s ass on his cock, tried and failed to get a taste of the spurting seed, bit his lip, watched his love until Sonny quieted and smiled, looking Luki in the eye, but shyly, almost as if he was embarrassed.
Luki gave him a smile, said, “I love you, beautiful, sweet Sonny James,” and before Sonny’s eyes could mist or his lip quiver, Luki lay flat over him, pulling Sonny’s knees back even more but spreading them wide in the crooks of his elbows. He kissed him hard, long, purely sexual. Still hovering on Sonny’s mouth he said, “Gonna fuck you now, baby. Hard. Gonna fuck you real hard. That’s okay?”
“Oh! Yeah, Luki, please! Do me hard! Fuck me!”
Sonny being considerably younger than him, Luki marveled at the way Sonny’s cock was already hardening again. It just turned him on even more.
He pulled out of Sonny, getting a little cry of dismay for response. Having grabbed more lube and retouched his cock, he pulled Sonny to the edge of the bed and flipped him to his belly, neither gentle nor rough, just easy. “Spread wide and on your knees, now,” he said, and stood behind him. He’d greased up, but he didn’t go in easy. He slammed his hard cock home, reveling in Sonny’s pleased but slightly pained grunt. Again Luki asked, “Okay?”
It wasn’t more than twenty strong, slick, fast strokes before Luki’s balls tightened, and seconds later his jizz shot deep inside his husband. He cried out some form of Sonny’s name, and this time Sonny cried out too, Luki’s excitement, excellent aim, and no-holds-barred fucking having taken Sonny to a second orgasm. Luki’s rhythm and strength changed, but he kept up the fucking, letting Sonny milk him dry. Finally, he slowly pulled free, turned Sonny onto his back, and fell down over him with a hard, smeary kiss on his lips. He lay still, just for a minute, letting all his weight blanket his husband.
He said, softly, in Sonny’s ear. “Damn, baby, you’re so fucking perfect. I love you. I do. So much. So, so much. So, so, so, so, so—”
Sonny giggled—yes giggled—and scrunched his shoulder to rescue his ear from the tickle.
Luki smiled and rolled to the side, wiping down both of their chests and bellies with his undershirt. That made Sonny giggle more, but Luki did it anyway and then lay down, stretched alongside the man he was sure was the most beautiful, the most perfect human ever born, and pulled him close so he could lay his head on Luki’s shoulder.
He started to let himself drowse, but then remembered he hadn’t taken proper care of Sonny that night. They hadn’t had dinner—nothing since those delicious burgers in Oregon. He muttered, his voice like gravel, “Baby, are you hungry?”
Sonny snuggled deeper into the cove of Luki’s embrace and said, “No. Maybe. No. I just want to sleep.” Then his stomach said its piece, which turned out to be a long, melodious complaint.
Luki felt Sonny stiffen with surprise, and even though Luki didn’t mean to laugh, he did, and once he started, he couldn’t stop. And soon Sonny was laughing full bore, Woody Woodpecker style. Luki couldn’t remember the last time he’d laughed with abandon, but it felt good. He made himself slow down when tears were burning his eyes.
“Sonny, you are so fucking precious. So, so, so—”
Sonny, still chuckling, said, “Shut up.”
May 24, 2014
On a somewhat more serious note, a little about the dedication, epigraphs, and author note in Because of Jade. And this is where that special contest comes in, uh-huh, yeah, I’m going there. Read to the bottom for the specifics.
First, the dedication:
Both my beautiful daughters, Lillian Grace and Kimberly Rose, are adopted. I adopted them from that system we always complain about, children who birth parents did not do right by them. They were, respectively, not quite five, and just turned two. It wasn’t easy, but I am so lucky, so full of gratitude for them. They are both grown women now, strong and responsible and still they surprise me with their beauty every day. So for me, the subject of raising an adoptive child has special meaning, and I have to say that if I loved Luki and Sonny before this, I love them ever so much more now. I hope that their story rings true for everyone that has any role in a child’s life, even that of friend or neighbor.
Second, the epigraphs:
The first one is from Mark Twain: “Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.”
The second is from Marisa de los Santos: “No one is ever quite ready; everyone is always caught off guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you’ve got, say ‘Oh, my gosh,’ and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop.”
Lastly, as with the last four books, I wrote an Author’s Note for Because of Jade. It’s a little different, though, because I share some thoughts about the way parents and children affect each other’s lives. Here it is in its entirety:
The best part of raising a child, the most rewarding moments and days, might be described as living as lesser luminaries in the child’s orbit. In Because of Jade, Luki and Sonny face sea change in becoming, suddenly, the custodians of a small girl’s days, shedding light where she wonders, reflecting her joy, and serving as stars by which she navigates grief and fear. She, of course, teaches them at least as much about the world and each other as they teach her. Though we may think of children as a responsibility, I don’t doubt that they, in their way, take upon their small shoulders responsibility for us. It’s an equitable exchange: on one pan of the scale, loving a child; on the other, equally weighted, being a child.
We do the best we can to create security in our child’s world, and our child does the best they can to have faith in us. But the truth is, security is ephemeral at best. The events that unfold in Because of Jade may seem dramatic, but, in one way or another, attacks on good families happen in the real world far too often—not only against gay men, but against parents of every gender, sexuality, creed, and color.
That said, this story is purely fiction, and not only that, it’s a love story, a chapter in the romance of Luki Vasquez and Sonny James—two fabulous men who happened to meet one day in the pages of their first book, Loving Luki Vasquez. They’ve been married ten years in this tale, but their love remains strong, and when they fall into five-year-old Jade’s orbit, their deep love has a chance to take on a new shine. I hope with all my heart that you will enjoy this bumpy-road love story as much as I enjoyed putting it on the page.
I need a comment from you to enter the special release party giveaway, can be either of these:
(1)A thought on either of the epigraphs, or a quote on grief or parenting.
(2)Something you learned from a child, and (briefly) how that learning came about.
The prize is any V&J ebook and $15 to spend at Dreamspinner.
Because of Jade Release Party (official) post #4: Sonny on bridges, Luki on parenting, and Jade on tulips and tossing cookies
May 24, 2014
Some of you have seen this graphic before with it’s teensy excerpt. Here’s the longer bit it comes from. Setting the scent, this is chapter one, and Sonny’s driving the home from Seattle, where Luki has finally gotten the good news that, after five years, he remains cancer free.
AFTER THEY’D had Full Sail Amber Ale and hamburgers at the Metro, and Luki had gotten upset at the staff for ignoring Sonny, and Sonny had reminded Luki he didn’t care—all of which is exactly what happened every time they went to the Metro—Sonny piloted the flying Mustang down I-5, over the Tacoma Narrows bridge, up and around the Kitsap Peninsula, the long way home.
As they made the trip through Bremerton, Luki said, “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
Sonny said, “Yeah, they filmed some of it here. And supposedly the story took place here.” He was surprised, though, because Luki didn’t really watch movies or television.
“My dad liked that movie. I think he secretly wanted to be a romantic.”
“Maybe he was a romantic,” Sonny suggested. “You know, with your mom. Kaholo said he never got over her dying, right?”
Luki looked as though the thought was completely new and possibly a little painful. Eventually he said, “Yeah, could be. Maybe I’ll ask Kaholo about it when we get everybody together to celebrate my five years cancer free.” He smiled—the second real smile in a single day—and held that expression until Sonny was able to turn his head and smile back.
Sonny switched hands on the wheel so he could reach for Luki’s broad, brown hand currently at rest in his lap, his white gold, black opal, and colorless sapphire wedding set sparkling in the afternoon sun. When Sonny touched it, Luki turned that hand up and caught Sonny’s in his sure but gentle grip. Something delicious traveled all through Sonny, an invisible shiver of pleasure and probably anticipation. He thought, magic hands, but what he said was, “Maybe that’s why he couldn’t accept you as you are, Luki.”
“You mean that’s why he ‘hated what I am.’”
“Well, that’s the way he said it, yeah. But what if he just was afraid you being gay would be another terrible loss, and he wouldn’t be able to deal, just like he couldn’t deal with losing your mother.”
Luki shook his head and raised one corner of his mouth in a wry expression that all by itself dismissed any excuses for his father’s cruelty. “Sonny, I can’t deny my dad gave me a lot of personal power in other ways, and it serves me well. And he said he loved me—he only said it once, but he did say it. And he saved me from being carved up like the bar-b-que pig. Growing up in his shadow and at his command, I couldn’t help but love and admire him. I still do. But I can’t think of anything to excuse his repugnance toward me because I’m gay. Maybe you’re right, but if you are, he was selfish and childish, and that’s not an excuse.”
Sonny didn’t say anything for a while, driving onto the long, flat Hood Canal bridge, which would take them from the Kitsap to the Olympic Peninsula and, still on Highway 104, up and around the coast, past Discovery Bay, and eventually home.
“This is a long bridge,” Luki said.
“Mm. About 7,000 feet.” Sonny changed his voice to his version of tour-guide-Sonny, and added,
“The longest floating bridge in the world located in a saltwater tidal basin.”
Luki chuckled appropriately. “Well, while we’re on it, maybe you can tell me, do you think my dad could be excused for hating… my being gay?”
“Hell no, Luki!”
The answer was vehement enough to actually startle Luki. Once he recovered he said, “You know, Sonny, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this, but…. The way my dad was, it’s a big reason I’ve never wanted to be a parent. I mean, I remember my mom, barely, and as far as I know she was great, and then of course there’s Kaholo. If I know anything about how to treat a kid, it’s probably because of him. But I’ve always worried I’d be a lousy parent. And if I was, I can assure you I’d blame Peli Vasquez, my good old dad, for at least part of it.”
“Honey, I don’t think there can be an excuse for a parent treating their child like that. I was only talking about understanding it a bit more—more for your peace than his benefit, certainly. And who knows what kind of parent either of us would have made. Chances are, we won’t know. But we’re damn good uncles.”
“True. But speaking of Nebraska—”
“Doesn’t matter. I can’t wait to call Kaholo when we get home. Tell him the news, see if he’ll come out to celebrate.”
Luki looked blank.
For the rest of the trip, Luki made calls and arrangements. Kaholo definitely would come. Jackie and Brian would try to carve out time from their work with British intelligence to make the cross-Atlantic trip—it was that important to them. Josh and Ruthie wanted to get together but had some issues with traveling. Ruthie was midpregnancy and for some reason had morning sickness and general nausea much later into the pregnancy than was usual.
“It’s a little inconvenient, Mr. Vasquez,” she drawled.
“Does everyone from West Virginia call their uncle-in-law ‘mister,’ Ruthie?”
She laughed, which was a sound Luki always enjoyed. It reminded him of a slow, deep creek running over rocks, in and out of eddies and pools. He inwardly smiled, but it did worry him when she said she was having problems. She apologized for her formality with a smile in her voice. “Sorry, I keep forgetting. I don’t know why. So, Luki—there is that better? Anyway, it’s a bit of a problem. I never know when I’m going to be sick, and also the doctor told me I shouldn’t travel until after the baby comes.”
“Okay, Ruthie. Maybe we can figure something out, but I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. You didn’t with Jade, right?”
“Sheesh. That girl was easy. She acted like she knew exactly what she was doing—even during the birth. She’s still easy, Luki, and you know she talks about you, misses you. That’s another reason I wish we could come. But then, you know Josh just finally got the job transfer he wanted. He was permanent at the refinery, but he’s on the offshore crew now, maintenance out on THUMS Islands. I don’t think he could get off work—he’s still training and on probation.”
“Huh…. Well, congrats to him on the job. Hey, hold on a minute okay?” Luki held out the phone so Sonny could point to the button he needed to press to put the call on hold.
Once he’d done that Sonny said, “What’s up?”
Luki explained the reasons Josh and Ruthie couldn’t come north for a celebration, but before he could ask about an alternative, Sonny spoke up again.
“Well, how about we go down there? It’ll be a great chance for a road trip.”
“That is exactly what I hoped you would say, sweetie…. Well, not the part about the road trip. I was thinking we’d fly.”
“Nope. Road trip.”
With that settled, Luki took Ruthie off hold but found instead that five-year-old Jade was waiting.
She explained, “Mommy’s throwing up, Uncle Luki. And I can’t come to your house right now.”
“Um. Okay. Why not?”
“’Cause at my preschool I just planted my orange tulip bulbs, and I have to be here to take care of them when they pop up out of the dirt.”
“Well, that’s very conscientious of you.”
“Yeah, little girl that I love, good is a great word for it.” It was a diversion. For some reason, “little girl that I love” always made Jade giggle madly. This time was no exception. When she slowed down, Luki asked, “Is your mommy done throwing up yet?”
“Nope. Still tossing her cookies.”
“Tossing her cookies?”
“Yeah, silly. It means throwing up. Don’t you know that?”
“Oh, well. Thanks for explaining. Why don’t you tell me good-bye, and after we hang up tell Mommy that Uncle Sonny and I are going to come there where you live, so you don’t have to leave your baby tulips. Okay?”
Next, food for thought and the promised contest, and after that, a steeeeeeamy excerpt.
May 24, 2014
I interrupt my planned posts to bring you the answer to Trix’s question! Who are Luki and Sonny’s favorite Muppets?
Sonny is torn between Gonzo and Rolf:
Thanks, Trix, for a truly wonderful question!
May 24, 2014
Some people may notice there is no prologue in Because of Jade, though all four of the previous series books have them. Truth is, all of the previous books make up one long prologue to this book. Especially Yes. More on that in a moment, first let me say the jury is out as to whether these books have to be read in order. Some say no, but everybody agrees that’s the way to get the most enjoyment from them. In the case of the latest book, I definitely think that’s true.
Because of Jade ties together the whole suspense series, most of the characters and places and events, and though there’s a five year gap in story chronology, it follows directly on the events in the one novella, Yes. To make that timeline clear, although Yes was published after Delsyn’s Blues, the events in the story take place five years after the events in the four series books, and Because of Jade happens another five years after that. The guys have been married ten years, and they are still deeply in love! (Sigh…)
So here’s the beautiful cover Reese Dante created for Yes, followed by the blurb. Click on the cover for the buy link if you like, but note also the novella is included in the paperback version of Because of Jade. (First time in print!)
Professional badass Luki Vasquez and textile artist Sonny James have been married for five years, and despite the sometimes volatile mix, they’re happy. From their first days together, they stood united against deadly enemies and prevailed. But now the deadly enemy they face is the cancer thriving inside Luki, consuming his lungs.
As Luki’s treatment proceeds, Sonny hovers near, determined to provide every care, control every thread of possibility just as he does when he weaves. But he can’t control the progress of the cancer or how Luki’s body reacts to the treatment regime. Sonny tries, but Luki dances with cancer alone—until he gets a startling reminder of the miracle of life. With renewed determination and mutual love, the two men emerge from their coldest winter into a new spring day.
Next: a completely safe-for-work excerpt. And announcing the release party special giveaway.
May 24, 2014
I’m back with the essentials on Because of Jade, but first, to invite you to ask me anything about Vasquez and James. While out and out spoilers won’t be posted here, I’ll endeavor to answer every question as best I can. Reader questions often prompt me to sort out something I hadn’t quite figured out yet, in a clear way, and I enjoy that! So, is there anything you would like to know about Luki and Sonny or any person, event, or thing in their world? (And remember, your comment is good for an entry in the rafflecopter—see previous post!)
Some more things planned for this party, another giveaway (only for party attendees!), some excerpts (one with heat, the other, something else), some different posts about V&J and me and my cat employees (or maybe I’m their employee), and lots of lively discussion, I hope (but of course that depends on you).
And here’s the blurb!
Luki Vasquez receives the news he’s still cancer free after five years, and he wants to celebrate with his whole family. He and his husband, Sonny James, take a road trip south, intending to gather at the home of his nephew Josh, Josh’s wife Ruthie, and Jade—a little girl who was still in the womb when she and her mother helped Luki beat lung cancer.
Halfway to their destination, Luki learns Josh and Ruthie have met a tragic death. The horrible news lays Luki low, but he pulls himself together in time to be the family’s rock and see to the dreaded business of tying up loose ends. The most important business is Jade, and when Luki and Sonny head home, they take Jade with them.
Luki and Sonny must combat self-doubt and fear and help each other learn to parent an unexpected child—and they must also nourish the love that has kept them whole for the past ten years. A relative’s spurious claim to Jade threatens the new family, and even if they prevail in court, they could lose their little girl unless they can rescue Jade from evil hands and true peril.
I’m checking for comments and questions, and I’ll be back soon with an excerpt
May 24, 2014
Hello! I’m Lou Sylvre, author of the Vasquez and James books, and I’m having a party! I’m celebrating the release (yesterday) of Because of Jade. Although in some places you’ll find the book billed as #5, it truthfully caps the whole series, including (possible especially) the novella Yes, which is definitely romance, but a bit apart from the suspense theme of the other books. Yes has previously only been available as an ebook, but it’s included in the paperback version of the new release.
Let’s go for a wild ride through Sonny and Luki’s history.
In previous episodes…
In the early pages of Loving Luki Vasquez</strong, Luki Vasquez and Sonny Bly James spotted each other on the streets of Port Clifton, and met for coffee at Margie’s Cup O’ Gold Café the next day. Luki had his I’m-a-chilly-badass black coffee with sugar, while Sonny had an oh-my-God-did-I-just-say-that raspberry latte, which got the whole romance off to a limping start. Their lips finally meet in kiss on the beach a few days later, but almost immediately the bad guy shows up. Luki is sure Sonny is the target but, seasoned detective that he is, he can’t put a finger on who is behind the string of ugly crimes. Luki’s badassery and Sonny’s calm common sense and courage pull them through and they seem also to have fallen in love by the time it’s over.
But is it ever really over? In Delsyn’s Blues,, Sonny’s nephew Delsyn, whom he raised, dies as a result of horrible things that happened in book one. Sonny grieves and blames himself for Delsyn’s death, and has sent Luki packing back to Chicago. Delsyn’s murder, it’s later discovered was really an early result of a new and nasty crime.. Things go from bad to worse, but Luki refuses to let Sonny deal with threats on his own. He knows fighting crime requires a badass, and he’s certain he’s well qualified. Once Sonny is back in Luki’s arms and his head begins to clear, he know he doesn’t want to be alone,—so he proposes marriage. While bleeding out from a “flesh wound,” Luki accepts. In the end they must beat impossible odds to survive and hope to see their wedding day.
In book three, Finding Jackie , Chapter One opens with a sunny Hawaiian wedding on a breezy hilltop. The honeymoon starts sweet, but it can’t last, and soon a strange message is delivered to Luki by an informant. It’s cryptic, but it’s a threat—from a Mob hit man. When Luki’s sixteen-year-old nephew, Jackie, is tricked into delivering himself into the hands of a sadistic killer, finding Jackie and rescuing him takes Luki and Sonny on a hunt through leather bars, homeless meal lines, and dusty desert back roads that lead to terror.
Then there’s Saving Sonny James. The first part of this book is about how a couple decades of being a badass can come back to slap a man in the face—and about how a really strong man and his equally strong husband deal with that. The second part of the book is what Luki does to save Sonny’s life when things go all wrong in Paris, France.
Next post in a few minutes: about Yes, and the blurb and essentials on the new release.
Saving Sonny James excerpt two: Meet Jesse Douglas–Luki’s sexy ex (yes, really) and another informal poll (decisions…)
October 22, 2013
Poll question: Do you think a spin-off starring Jesse shoud be forthcoming, or is he too… risky? (I’d sincerely like your feedback.)
Long before Sonny James Luki had a bit of a romance with a ginger man named Jesse Douglas. Jesse is sexy, quiet, capable, and a bit of a badass himself. He doesn’t look like Rupert, or Prince Harry, or this:
(Although some of us may wish that he did.)
This little excerpt is the by-chance, surprise meeting after many years between Jesse and Luki, on the plane heading for France, where Luki is determined to rescue his husband from whatever evil has befallen him.
Luki glanced up in time to see a man who had turned in his seat three rows up and across the aisle, looking at him—a man with brilliant green eyes.
Maybe the eyes distracted him, forcing his attention for no reason except their color. For too long an instant, he didn’t recognize the owner of those startling irises. But the man continued to walk toward him, smiling, and Luki knew him. The real memory finally overcame imagination.
“Jesse,” Luki said when the tall, slender ginger-haired man was close.
“Hey, Luki! Been a long time, eh? Too long.”
Luki couldn’t decide if it was too long or not long enough. Jesse had been part of his life—an anomaly—before Sonny, even before Luki had decided to forego attachments and keep solitary and safe with one-night stands done his way. In his youth Luki had twice tried to have a more significant relationship. One was with a guy in college, Graham Kennedy, whom Luki had dated—for real, dated—for a couple of months until Graham had decided to aim for the Catholic priesthood. Jesse, this mellow and still attractive green-eyed agent standing in the aisle on the flight to France, had been the other. They had trained together at FLETC—the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, in Georgia. Jesse had been a new hire with the State Department, and Luki had been new to ATF. That put them in the minority among FBI newbies and cops from various parts of the country, and they gravitated together when they had downtime. Sharing meals and movies and jokes started them talking. Serious study and skills practice started them touching.
Jesse was a likeable guy, adventurous and sexy. But he’d wanted things Luki couldn’t give. He’d wanted to be equals. He’d wanted to be in love. He’d wanted commitment. Luki couldn’t give any of that, then. And after that he didn’t let anyone get close enough even to think about such things.
Until Sonny. Sonny proved to be the one of a kind, sole contender for Luki’s devotion.
Still, Luki held no ill will for Jesse—he even had good memories, and maybe what he felt could be called fondness. So when his old, once intimate friend came up to him smiling his soft smile, Luki patted his extra, empty seat. “Join me for a bit?”
Jesse accepted the offer, and once he was seated said, “Damn, Luki, you look good!”
Luki started to deny that, then gave himself a mental shake. He did look good—or at least he looked like himself. He was groomed and well-dressed, and his body was in almost top shape. His eyes—he knew—had lost the glazed absent look they’d worn since Umatilla, and he’d gotten enough outdoor air for his skin to look its best, hate-scar down the left side of his face and all. And this man sitting next to him had rather liked that scar, even though—until Sonny—Luki had always thought it made him ugly. So instead of arguing, Luki just said, “Thanks. You too, Jesse. How are you? Still working for State?”
“Yeah, I am—moved out of the field agent ranks, though. Now I’m a pencil pusher.” His smile was wide and sincere, as it always had been, but he’d collected some deep lines around his eyes. His hair had some whitish streaks among the ginger too. It wasn’t a bad look on him. “You’re still with ATF, or no? I’ve heard different things….”
“Yes. I haven’t been working since last summer. I… well, it’s a long story. But I’m active duty now.”
“Are you official, then? I mean, is your trip to Europe connected with a case or something? Seems kind of unusual for ATF.”
Luki recognized the slight shift in Jesse’s voice, the minute narrowing of his eyes. Those little changes told him Jesse had switched from personal interest to professional. He was trying to gauge whether Luki’s visit was going to spell trouble for the State Department. Luki answered to set the man’s mind at ease. “No, Jesse. It’s personal. I’m on vacation leave.” For a change of subject, he asked a question even though the answer was evident. “Your duty station is in Europe?”
“Yeah, gay Par-ee.” He laughed, but it wasn’t entirely in mirth. “Hey, listen. I could see the sparkle off those rings clear over across the cabin. They’re on your left hand. Do they have the usual meaning?” Jesse dropped his gaze and pushed his hair back off his forehead. It changed nothing—the heavy forelock flopped right back down over his brow—but his posture and that nervous swipe of his hair was full of meaning. It told Luki the question held emotional impact for Jesse.
After all this time, Luki mused, but out loud he just said, “Yes.”
“I thought you…. Has it been long?”
“No, not really. We met last year, married this past summer.”
Jesse stared at Luki for a few minutes, as if he were trying to tunnel through his eyes to reach his brain and read what he found there. He tilted his head sideways, shaking it and laughing in disbelief. “You’re in love, Luki Vasquez! I can’t believe it!”
It wasn’t unkind, though faintly colored with old frustrations, Luki thought. He watched his friend, marveling that he could still read his old flame so well. Jesse had leaned forward, elbows on knees and hands clasped, his long, straight spine stretched but his shoulders slightly hunched, fighting with himself over something. Finally, he spoke in a breathy voice that told Luki how hard he had struggled not to ask, not to tread this path. “Have there been a lot of men since me, Luki?”
Luki’s long habit of privacy, of playing everything close to the vest, made him hesitate. But he thought it was a fair question, and Jesse was a good man, and though Luki would never have expected it, apparently for Jesse the end of their brief foray into coupledom remained unresolved. “No,” he said softly, but then he corrected himself. “Well, yes, but out of them all, you were the only one that mattered in any way, until Sonny—my husband.”
Clearly Jesse had been hanging on the words. Immediately he responded, “I mattered.”
Biting back a bit of his own frustration now, Luki spoke as kindly and honestly as he could. “Yes, of course you mattered, Jesse. The time we spent together was fun and sweet for what it was, and you helped me know myself. I remember only good things about you, and after we split I missed you.”
“Why didn’t you ever call?”
“Or even e-mail?”
“Jesse.” Luki let his voice take on a note of warning. As much as he held no ill will for his long-ago lover, he just wasn’t inclined to have this discussion. He’d already gone above and beyond, as far as he was concerned. “Stop,” he said.
Jesse visibly shook off his tension, sat up, and sat back in the seat. “Okay,” he said. “Sorry. Sometimes I get unreasonable.”
Luki said, “Yes, yes, you do. I remember.”
At first it looked as though Jesse was going to take offense at that, but then perhaps memory struck, because he laughed. “I’d bet you’ll never forget,” he said. “But okay, change of subject. Why are you going to Europe? Are you stopping in Paris?”
“Yeah. Paris. I think that’s as far as I’m going.” He allowed himself a sigh as today’s reality sank over him. What to say, though? He wasn’t prone to giving out a lot of information, but it crossed his mind that he had no allies lined up on the far shore, and Jesse might be in a position to help. So, “Um…. Well, it’s where Sonny is, my husband.”
“Do I detect a note of… I don’t know, trouble?”
“Probably. So what do you do, these days—for State, I mean. If it’s not classified.”
“Some classified, but generally I work on various problems around US citizens abroad—they get arrested or stranded or whatever. Why did you ask? Is there something you need help with?”
“Maybe. I don’t really want to lay everything out right here, right now, but Sonny’s sort of… missing.”
Jesse’s whole demeanor changed, taking on his professional persona, which
Luki appreciated. “I take it you’re sure he’s not evading?”
A swift wind of self-doubt swept over Luki—would he want to leave me?—but it passed, leaving him only slightly shaken. Truth was, it didn’t matter. Harold Breslin was anything but trustworthy, and as long as Sonny was in the same country with him, he wasn’t safe. But deep in his heart, he knew Sonny would never walk away from him, from their love, their marriage, their home. Never would he disappear on purpose. “Not evading,” he said.
“I’m afraid maybe so.”