Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pandora Post #19

Title: Pandora

Part Nineteen: Gray Zone

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. Forgive me in advance for the cliffhanger, that’s just how this chapter worked out. I’m getting the next part up soon.


Pandora was interminably cloudy. Despite the long term residents gleefully assuring them all that it was actually the mild season, it rained every day, sometimes for hours. Occasionally it was a light, pattering rain that was actually kind of soothing, but more often than not it was a driving rain that slashed through the sky like tiny knives, pounding soft flesh into submission. The environmental shields erected over the city required a lot of power to run, and so unless a typhoon or tsunami was heading towards The Box, the city council preferred to leave the shields down. The city buildings had been constructed with function in mind, not form, and very few of them were over a story tall. The roofs sloped to allow water to run off easily, and the drains beside the streets were deep and wide. Pandora City was a tight jumble of every shade between slate gray and cobalt blue, and looking down at it from the skin rooms on the Neptune, Garrett thought that it strongly resembled a bruise.

It was a strange time for everyone. The established residents of The Box were having to adjust to a vast increase in the number of people using their facilities, and not all of them were happy about that. New citizens were applying for housing and business permits in facilities that hadn’t even been built yet, and Jezria was very annoyed about that particular delay. She lit into the construction company who had the contract to build and they buckled down to work, but it would be at least six months before everyone who was staying on Pandora would get a home. Jonah could have moved to the front of the list since he had a child, but he opted to stay for longer on board, something that undeniably pleased Garrett. The less he had to go out into the city, the better.

It wasn’t like there was much there. The entertainment complex was smaller than what was available on the Neptune, Garrett didn’t need to look at the schools or educational centers, and the small greenhouses that provided fresh food for the city’s populace could be seen in less than a day. Apart from that it was government buildings, row houses and a few small parks. The Box was so small that you didn’t need a vehicle to get around in it, and in fact they weren’t encouraged. It was a hamlet, a burg, an atavistic throwback to a time so far out of modern mankind’s memory that it was bemusing just to be there.

Some of the new faces were more than passing interesting to Garrett. Meeting Martina’s husband Lawrence was surprising, although given her attitude towards making every minute count Garrett supposed it shouldn’t have been. The man was several inches shorter than his wife, with sloped shoulders and a pronounced curve to his upper back. He had gray hair neatly trimmed, wore actual antique bifocals of all things, and walked with a cane. His face was deeply lined through his forehead and beside his mouth, and the contrast between him and his wife couldn’t have been starker. For all that, though, they seemed surprisingly compatible. Martina very clearly loved her husband, and his calm personality brought out a side to her that was almost gentle. He helped to oversee the transfer of the most crucial scientific equipment from the ship to the lab in the city, and the interaction between them was fascinating to watch.

“I know, it’s like she has a doppelganger,” Lila commented to Garrett in soft tones as they watched the exodus from their part of the lab. Their particular experiments and areas of expertise were far from crucial for the time being, so they were left alone while the botanists, biologists and engineers struggled to pack up and safely move their tons of equipment. “I didn’t believe it at first either, but then, they’ve been married a long time. I guess in fifty years you either learn to handle someone or you get a divorce.”

“Fifty years?” Shekar asked in surprise. He had forgiven Lila for the sin of dating someone other than himself, at least enough to talk to her again. “That long?”

“Or fifty-one. They got married pretty young. They have some kids who live back in the Central System somewhere, I think. The kids aren’t naturals, though. It’s just Lawrence.”

“How old is he?”

“Late seventies, I think.”

Seeing the long-term difference than Regen made was almost like a punch in the gut for Garrett. In seventy years, Garrett expected to look like his father: older, a little more weathered, maybe his hair beginning to go gray, but still straight and strong and vital. In seventy years Cody would be like this, already an old man when he should have been entering his prime. And Jonah…God, Jonah would be devastated. Garrett was beginning to understand why Jezria had mandated psychological counseling for all permanent residents of Pandora, whether they were naturals or not. This kind of rapid aging would be very hard to see in your loved ones, and especially in your child.

Garrett broached the topic, in a roundabout way, to Jonah that evening. Cody was eating at a friend’s apartment and the two of them had Jonah’s place to themselves, at least for a while. They ordered food from the mess and ate together, nice, quiet and casual. The thing between them, whatever it was, had developed to the point where they sought each other out whenever their bizarre schedules intersected, but after three weeks on Pandora they still weren’t actually sleeping together. What sexual encounters they had were furtive and rushed, not in either of their beds.

Garrett was starting to think that Jonah would never take him to bed, and he was doing his damndest to be okay with that. What they had was something he could live with. It wasn’t everything he wanted, not remotely, but it was enough that he didn’t feel that strange, wrenching melancholy that had dogged him during the trip here, and wasn’t quite enough to make him fall in love.

It would be so easy to fall in love with Jonah and Cody, but Jonah kept holding back and after some consideration, Garrett decided he was right to. Garrett had no intention of spending the rest of his life in a backwater colony in the Fringe, and he knew with equal certainty that Jonah would stay here either until Cody wanted to leave, or until his son died. The thought of such a bright, happy little boy growing old and dying in less than a century, or of some kind of disease or in a stupid accident, was incredibly painful for Garrett to contemplate. If it was that bad for him it had to be ten times worse for Jonah, and that was why Garrett wanted to make sure he was getting counseling.

“Have you met the male half of the Doctors Sims?” he asked, rubbing his thumbs into the arch of Jonah’s foot. Jonah, Garrett had found, loved to have his feet touched, and Garrett was more than happy to have any chance to touch the man, intimately or not.

“Seen him from a distance,” Jonah grunted, relaxed nearly to the point of unconsciousness. “Shuttled some equipment for him a few times.” The shuttle pilots were working constantly these days, either taking things into town or out to the evacuation site fifty miles further inland. It mostly served as storage these days, but was a necessary measure in case the environmental shields failed. “He seems nice.”

“He is,” Garrett agreed. “I can see now why Martina is a raving bitch when she’s not with him. Not that I’m excusing her behavior, but I understand how not being with him might send her off kilter. They’ve been together for a really long time, and he’s not in the best of health.”

Jonah opened his eyes and peered over at Garrett. “That so?”

“Yeah. He’s got some chronic issues that Martina has been badgering the geneticists and doctors about. Apparently that’s not going too well for her, or them.”

“I’ve never really gotten it,” Jonah confessed, one hand weaving over and over again through his hair. It was a gesture that Garrett had come to realize meant he was disturbed. “Why none of the treatments work on naturals. It seems impossible. We can build people practically from the ground up, don’t see why we can’t rebuild them to work proper.”

“We might be able to, but not with the current anti-cloning laws in effect,” Garrett replied. “And I have to admit that I think they make sense. The capacity for abuse is just too high.”

“Nah, I get that,” Jonah sighed. “I know I wouldn’t want any Cody but the one I got, but still…” His voice trailed off, and his eyes became distant.

“Have you talked to Glinda lately?”

Glinda “The Good Witch” MacArthur was the Neptune’s head psychiatrist, and had made it a point to talk to each and every one of the passengers at some point on the journey to Pandora. She specialized in family psychiatrics, and had tried to set up an appointment with the Helmses several times, only to be politely rebuffed by Jonah. Cody was still too young to be required to get therapy for his condition and Jonah was almost as good as Garrett at avoiding doing things he didn’t want to do.

“No. I will, though.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

Jonah sat up suddenly, tugging his feet out of Garrett’s hands. His usually open, handsome face was totally closed off, and his warm brown eyes were flinty. “I don’t need you fallin’ into line and tellin’ me what to do too, Garrett. I’ve been dealing with this on my own every since I got Cody and I can deal with it a while longer without gettin’ my head shrunk by some damn know-it-all who wants to talk to me about the stages of fuckin’ grief, like I should be thinking about puttin’ my son in the ground already—” He stopped abruptly, his lips pressed into a tight line, then got up and began pulling on his socks. “I have to go and get Cody.”

Garrett wisely didn’t mention that Cody wasn’t due to be picked up for another hour. “I’ll be going, then.” Garrett had never made his lover really upset before and he didn’t like that he had now, but at the same time he knew he was right about Jonah seeing a counselor, and if he stayed he and Jonah would just keep arguing about it.

“Probably smart,” Jonah agreed tersely.

“Are you going to hold a grudge over this?”

Jonah blew out a harsh breath. “I doubt it,” he said honestly, “but I also really just want to see my boy right now.”

His boy. Which of course Cody was, while Garrett was just Cody’s occasional playmate/babysitter when his dad’s schedule allowed for them to be together. Garrett didn’t want to be a father figure, but he didn’t like the idea that he was nothing better than a glorified toy either.

Now he was the one being unfair. Yeah, their evening was very definitely over. “Fine. I’ll see you later.” Garrett got off the couch and walked over to the door, where he had left his shoes. Simple, easy, no fuss and he was back together and leaving, with no sign of his ever having been there apart from a second plate on the counter.

“Garrett.” A gentle hand on his arm stopped him with the door half open, and Garrett turned to look at Jonah. “Tomorrow night?” Jonah asked hopefully. “I’m off all day, we could go somewhere as soon as you’re out of the lab. Maybe one of the restaurants in town?”

Jonah had been trying to persuade Garrett to see more of The Box since they’d first arrived, with little success so far. He didn’t want to get to know Pandora City. He didn’t care about Pandora City. He was here to work and he was trying to play, and getting to know the nooks and crannies of all human civilization on this planet wasn’t high on his list of things to accomplish.

But Jonah was trying, and Garrett had to give a little too. “Sure. You can pick, you know what Cody will like best.”

“Thank you.” Jonah leaned in and brushed their lips together, and it was hard, so hard for Garrett not to deepen the kiss, not to lean in and take more of what he wanted, to demand it from Jonah as though it was his right to claim it. Hell, he didn’t even know what “it” really was, he just knew that he wanted it and was being denied.

For the best, for the best, for the best.

Oh well. At least if his evening was ending early he could get some more work done. That would increase the chances that he’d be off shift on time tomorrow. Garrett’s work schedule had improved some since arriving on Pandora, but it was still very irregular, and prone to change based on Martina’s latest whim.

The lab was, to put it succinctly, a fucking mess. There were still crates upon crates of equipment waiting to go to the new lab, and two of the biologists were having a fit about misplaced slides and inconsistent data as Garrett signed in. Naturally, there were still people up and about. And yes—there was Martina, all sound and fury in the center of it. Lawrence was nowhere to be seen, which was a shame. Garrett liked talking to the other man, and he had a way of making difficult situations clearer that his wife simply didn’t share.

One of the biologists, the hapless Andrews of old that Martina had been breaking down on Garrett’s first day, was vehemently defending himself against an older scientist who Garrett thought was named Ruxin—whether it was a first or last name he wasn’t sure—and Martina was yelling at them both, but looked up when Garrett walked in.

“What are you doing here?” she demanded.

“Getting some work done,” he replied, stepping past her and heading back towards his section of the lab.

“Oh no, you aren’t.”

That pulled him up short. “I never thought I’d hear those words come out of your lips.”

“The lab is transitioning to Pandora City’s power grid tonight,” Martina explained. “Just the lab, none of the rest of the ship yet, because we have special protocols. No one can have any of their equipment turned on during the process. I assume you’ve backed up all your data?”

“My data logs are pristine.”

“Good.” Her eyes narrowed. “As long as you’re here, you can help us move some things around. We’re looking for the case of hydrogen fuel cells.”

“Sounds like fun.”

“It’s not. Get to work.”

Technically Garrett didn’t have to do this kind of grunt work, it wasn’t in his contract, but he honestly didn’t have anything better going for him. He joined in shifting and searching through hard, heavy shipping crates and plastic containers filled with everything from test tubes to live worms. After perhaps a half an hour of joyless searching and repositioning, the lights suddenly went out.

“Damn it,” Martina swore. “The engineering bay was supposed to let me know before they turned things off.”

“How dare they,” Garrett chimed in companionably. He could feel Martina’s glare even though he couldn’t see it.

They sat and waited in the dark for one minute, then two, then three…Martina was on her com and shouting into it when the power came back on.

The power didn’t come on slowly, the room didn’t gradually light up; it wasn’t even merely bright. The new grid’s power surged through the lab like a firestorm, far too much current for the local transistors to handle. The embedded electronics blew out of the walls like a row of firecrackers going off, scattering debris and raining sparks into the room. The surfaces were all fire-resistant, but the intensity of the explosions was such that some of them started to burn anyway.

“Grab the crates and move them into the hall!” Martina shouted.

“This is not the time to be worried about stuff!” Garrett shouted back at her. The other two scientists seemed to agree, and as smoke began to fill the room and alarms started to sound, Andrews and Ruxin fled through the doors into the relative safety of the secured hall beyond. Garrett watched them leave, then turned back to his boss.

“Martina,” Garrett began, but she wasn’t there anymore. The smoke was starting to obscure his vision but he thought he saw the edge of her lab coat moving a few meters away. “Martina!”

“I have to save the fuel cells,” she insisted stridently, fear and fury warring for control in her voice. “We desperately need them for the hospital in case of blackouts and they’re the only ones we’ll have until the next transport ship, and that’s not for—”

Another explosion rocked the lab as the fire spread into a crate that contained things that were decidedly flammable.

“We have to leave, now!” Stumbling forward and reaching blindly, Garrett grabbed for Martina and finally found her arm. “Right now!”


Yes!” Garrett turned, and saw a sudden bright white chemical fire flare into life inside one of the nearby crates. He had just enough time to throw himself back into Martina and begin to turn his head before the crate exploded.

A second later there was a sharp, slicing impact followed by utter darkness, and the very beginnings of excruciating pain. Garrett’s body quickly decided that it was unbearable, and after only a moment of agony he lost consciousness.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Awesomeness of Note: blogging and Brief Encounters

There are two things to chat about on this fine fine day.  Firstly, tomorrow the 29th I'm a guest blogger for Lisabet Sarai's Beyond Romance blog, to be found here:  I'm talking about the reality that is an ending, and how incredibly bittersweet it can be.  Why?  Because soon my husband and I will be finishing our 2-year Peace Corps stint and returning to America.  This is huge.  Epic.  It it both awesome and painful all at once, because we've done so much here and established ourselves in the community, and now we have to go back and rebuild our lives, and livelihoods, in the states.  Hard.  At the same time, we haven't been in America in what feels like forever, and the mere thought of some of the wondrous things we'll be able to find there (bookstores, anyone?) fills me with a slightly-guilty glee.  Sigh.  At least we're bringing our dog back.

Secondly, it turns out my story Worth It was included in the anthology Brief Encounters, edited by Shane Allison and published by Cleis Press.   Apparently it's out now.  Why didn't I mention this before?  Simple reason...I didn't know.  I'm not going to have the whole "technology sucks here!" excuse in the states so I'd better get all my mileage out of it now:)  My story features two young men getting it on in an airport on their way to, shocker, Germany.  Do I write from real life?  Are you kidding?  If I was a man this would be practically autobiographical:)  Here's the link info and blurb:  Brief Encounters.

Brief Encounters

69 Hot Gay Shorts

Edited by Shane Allison

Sudden Sex Stories: Short in Length, Long on Pleasure

According to editor Shane Allison, "the best sex is sex that happens in an instant, when we least expect it." In Brief Encounters: 69 Hot Gay Shorts, Allison has curated a delicously dirty set of tales that are thrilling, intriguing and always surprising. Among the scenarios in Brief Encounters: two strangers act out their own scene when the theater lights go out in Logan Zachary's "Back Row." A student's quest for an A includes seducing his studly professor in Rob Rosen's "Hot for Teacher." Erotica veteran M. Christian wastes no time in getting to the good parts in the raw and raunchy blow-by-blow tale "Safe Sex." This big, bold book of gay quickies is guaranteed to satisfy on every level.

Lastly, I will endeavor to give you another Pandora segment before June is out.  I know...that leaves me two days.  I know!!!!  ARGGG!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Jenre Review for Wild Passions

I may have mentioned a few times before that I love it when Jenre reviews my stuff.  Not just because she tends to like my work either, although that certainly does make me all glowy.  She gives thorough and thoughtful reviews and good constructive criticism, which every little author needs if we want to grow up to be big authors someday.  Jenre recently posted a review for the anthology Wild Passions, which features a story of mine.  You should check out her site if you're interested in good information on a lot of different books in the genre, no pun intended.  Here's the link:  jenre's wellread blog.

Here's the excerpt for my story.  So nice:)

Opening Worlds by Cari Z

I have a total girl-crush on Cari Z's stories and so I was really excited when I saw that she'd written one for this anthology. Once again she didn't fail, and this story was my favourite from the anthology. It tells of lonely luxury space ship captain, Jason (yes, two stories with a Jason as a hero!), who is a little bit fed up that three Perels are joining his ship on the last leg of their space-tour. Perels are known for being alluring creatures with the sexual habits of tom cats. Jason is still nursing a broken heart and prefers not to sleep around so he decides to keep himself as far away from the Perels as possible, something which proves difficult when politeness means that he meets Ferran, one of the Perels who takes an interest in Jason. There were two things that I particularly liked about the story. The first was the way that Ferran and Jason slowly get to know each other. The dance around their attraction was wonderful to read and all the more satisfying when they give in to their feelings. It was all just so romantic! The second thing was the world-building which was done so deftly with little incidental details slotted in amongst the larger information about Perel society. The only niggle that I had was that the ending was just a tad convenient, but I forgave that when the rest of the story had been such a delight to read.

Why thank you, Jenre!  I would comment appreciatively on your blog, but apparently the whole "posting from West Africa" thing has caught up with me and blocked all my ids.  I can't even comment on my own blog.  Hopefully I'll resolve the situation soon.  If not..America in less than 2 months, baby.  Wooo!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Aww, nice review for Wild Passions!

Wow, super fast reviews up and there are lovely things to say!  It pays to go trolling sometimes.

Alex at the Creative Whimsy blog posted a review of Wild Passions.  Here's the link:  But let me transcribe the bit about my story.

Opening Worlds by Cari Z

In this futuristic space story, there aren't so much animals as aliens, but the important parts all work the same. This well-written story explores sex vs. love, the different social requirements of different planet societies, and the individual's required duties to society. This story made my chest ache with the longing that the narrator felt and it was superbly constructed. While the end may be considered to "work out too perfectly," I found it good--especially since the alternative would have made me cry. I think if this had been a novel, the author would have explored things more in depth, but as it stands, the ending worked. This was one of my favorites.

Thanks, Alex.  Glad you liked it.

New Release: Wild Passions Anthology

Today is the release of Storm Moon Press' Wild Passions anthology, to which I am a very happy contributor.  Here:  have a beautiful cover!

and a link to their website:  Storm Moon Press

This is my first publication with Storm Moon Press but hopefully not my last.  I'm set to release my short story contribution, Opening Worlds, as an individual e-book later this year, and we're hoping for a novel based on the world for next year.  All of which rocks my world.

Not tempting enough yet?  Try a snippet, I hear they taste delicious.


“You’re avoiding the dining room.”

“I’m not.”

“Yes,” Florence said slowly, drawing out the vowel, “you are. You never invite people to your place these days; I get that. You’re not under any obligation to. But it’s only courteous to check on your passengers and accept some of their invitations to dinner. You’ve been holed up in your room or on duty for the past three cycles.”

“I’m busy.”

“A captain is always busy,” Florence said philosophically. “But that doesn’t stop him from doin’ what he’s gotta do.”

“At what point did you make yourself my social secretary, Flo?”

“When you started acting all weird,” she replied. “C’mon, come to dinner with me tonight. I’ll take the Perels, I’ve got a standing invitation to their table. You can hang out with some lovely, normal humans and be dashing and friendly and make people happy.”

“All that?”

“All that in one simple evening.” She spread her hands. “Amazing how it’s all coming together, like fate. You’re such a brilliant multi-tasker.”

“Don’t push it, Flo.”

“Perry’s got the bridge,” Florence said with a fast subject change. “Are you going to wear your uniform to dinner?”

“Of course.”

“Should I?”

Jason made a face. “Are you asking my fashion advice? Really? What have I ever done that makes you think I would be a good person to ask about what to wear?”

“You always look good.”

“I’m always in uniform,” he reminded her.

“Yeah, well, it so works for you.”

Jason shook his head. “I’ll see you at dinner, Flo.”

“Got it, sir.”


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pandora Pt. 18

Title: Pandora

Part Eighteen: Looking Forward

Notes: This is the next part of a spin-off story of a series I posted on Literotica (titled Bonded, as Carizabeth) and the subject matter is m/m sci fi. This particular chapter is rated R for Raunchy. Don’t read if you dislike the subject matter and so on and so forth. Do read if you like sexy science fiction with handsome men or, y’know, if someone’s holding a gun to your head. I totally support your act of self-preservation.


“So, what’s on the menu?” Garrett asked curiously as they headed for Jonah’s apartment.

“What’s always on the menu on special nights,” Jonah said with a smile. “Mac and cheese.”

“Daddy makes the best,” Cody promised Garrett as he swung between them, using their arms like ropes. “It’s sooo good. Even better than Gran’s.”

“Who’s Gran?” Garrett asked before the grimace on Jonah’s face tipped him off that it was a bad subject to pursue.

“My Gran,” Cody said simply, looking at Garrett like he was supposed to know what that was. “Daddy’s mom.”

“Oh.” Short for Grandmother, naturally. Garrett had thought it was just a name. He’d certainly never been encouraged to call his grandmother anything other than Grandmother Caractacus, which when he was a child had been an enormous mouthful. “And this stuff is your favorite?” he asked, trying to ease past the uncomfortable moment.

“Yes,” Cody affirmed, and went on to describe how melty and cheesy and wonderful it was. Garrett kept his head down, listened politely and occasionally checked to see if Jonah still looked like he’d swallowed something distasteful. His expression got lighter the further they went, and by the time they had reached Jonah and Cody’s apartment he looked pretty much normal again.

Jonah and Cody’s apartment was larger than Garrett’s, with a second bedroom and bathroom and an actual space to sit down to eat that wasn’t countertop or living room. It was still a drab mélange of tan and beige and blue, but it was brightened in spots by color drawings, almost certainly all done by Cody. Mostly they featured Space Rangers.

Cody ran off to grab some of his toys while Jonah got busy in the kitchen. “So domestic,” Garrett teased him from across the counter, enjoying watching Jonah move in the small space.

“When needs must,” Jonah replied. “Usually we order somethin’ up from the mess, but I like to keep my hand in. Never know when you’ll be stuck cooking for yourself.” He glanced over at Garrett. “Do you cook?”

“Only if cooking means cutting things into bite-sized pieces,” he shrugged. “Honestly, it’s not a skill I’ve ever taken the time to master. I’ve generally always had access to a staffed kitchen, and as seduction techniques go I think cooking looks far better on you than it does on me.”

Jonah blushed slightly, barely enough for Garrett to notice, but then he was watching the man like a hawk. “Staffed kitchens, huh? I figured you were well off when I first saw your ship. That’s a nice cruiser for one person to have.”

“I liked it when I saw it. If you’re going to spend weeks on end in space you might as well be comfortable.”

“I hear that. I’ve never really gotten used to how small most ships feel to me. The Neptune’s the first one I’ve been on since I stopped drifting that doesn’t make me a little claustrophobic.” Jonah got out a casserole dish and started putting things together.

“How many family groups were there in your ship?”

Jonah hesitated, then gave a slight shrug, as if convincing himself that it didn’t really mean anything to talk about it. “Five, including ours. We were more n’a hundred all told. The central ship was my family’s, though.”

“How long did you stay with them?”

“Practically all my life.”

Garrett thought over everything he knew about Jonah and his son for a moment. Jonah wasn’t the type to run from something he thought was a good situation, and he certainly wouldn’t have taken Cody away from a supportive extended family if there hadn’t been extenuating circumstances. There was the health factor to take in, but Garrett really couldn’t see a place like Pandora being gentler on Cody’s immune system. Something or someone had forced Jonah to give up the life he’d always known in exchange for this. Judging by the tense set of Jonah’s shoulders, however, now wasn’t the time to push.

Garrett was saved from finding a graceful segue into a new topic by the reappearance of Cody, who had an arm full of Space Rangers and their accessories. He dropped them all in the middle of the living room rug and sat down. “You wanna play?” he asked Garrett.

“Sure,” Garrett said, leaving the counter and settling onto the floor.

“Okay. Here.” He handed Garrett a doll shaped like the red Space Ranger. “You can be Nala. She’s cool, see, she comes with Kiko.” He pointed at the monkey clinging to the doll’s shoulder. “And I’ll be Marco. We can make them fight if you want.”

“I thought Marco and Nala liked each other,” Garrett said.

“They don’t have to,” Cody assured him. “And they have the best super moves.”

“The best what?”

Cody rolled his eyes. “Super moves. I’ll show you.” He turned the green Space Ranger onto his face on the floor and opened a panel in his back. “Right now they’re set to be soft, but when you turn the batteries on you can change it and make them hard. Then they move and talk and you can make them do their tricks.” The doll’s floppy legs stiffened, and when Cody put him back on his feet he brought his heels together and saluted with his laser pistol.

“Ready for action, sir!”

“Do the lightning kick!” Cody told the doll, which immediately leapt into a front flip and came down hard on one leg, driving its little heel into the carpet. “That’s my favorite,” Cody said gleefully.

“What can Nala do?”

Cody took Garrett through the list of Nala’s flashy fighting moves. After twenty minutes of training they had a battle royale, with Cody shouting for lightning kicks and Garrett countering with monkey torpedoes. They both sat well away from the action. It would be incredibly embarrassing to be knocked out by a toy, no matter how badass it was.

Dinner was ready pretty fast, and after convincing a reluctant Cody that the toys weren’t going anywhere, they all sat down to eat. There was Jonah’s lauded mac and cheese, a helping of almond greens that Garrett knew came from the mess, and mineral water for the adults. Cody had milk.

The food was heavier than what he usually ate, but Garrett had to confess that Jonah’s signature dish was actually very good. “What else can you make?”

“I do a mean omelet.”

“And pancakes too,” Cody said. “You should stay until tomorrow so you can have breakfast.”

Garrett stayed silent and raised one eyebrow in Jonah’s direction.

“Not this time, bucko. We’ve got an early morning.”

“Next time?” Cody begged.

“We’ll see,” was all Jonah would say.

Garrett hated those words. Prevarication was all well and good when it was a part of the seduction, but there was no need for it here. Jonah knew Garrett was interested, he knew that he wanted it himself, and he knew that his son had no problem with seeing the two of them together. Jonah was either being deliberately cruel to himself or to Garrett, and Garrett had the feeling that good, honest, self-loathing masochism was much more Jonah’s style.

They finished dinner in near silence, with Cody yawning by the end of it. After Cody said goodnight to Garrett, Jonah took him to get ready for bed, leaving their guest to put the dishes into the autoclave. Garrett listened to it whirr for a moment, strategizing in his head. When Jonah reappeared, a slightly sheepish expression on his face, Garrett was ready for him.

“I know I’m not staying the night,” he said bluntly, taking Jonah by the hand and leading him around the island that separated the kitchen from the rest of the room. Standing behind that, only their torsos and heads were visible from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. “I know you can’t leave. I know we’re not going to do anything in your room, but I’ll be damned if I go another night without having something of you.” Garrett pressed Jonah’s back against his refrigerator and leaned in, nipping delicately along his jaw. Throat muscles worked silently beneath his lips, and Garrett smiled to himself.

“Tell me to stop and I will,” he said in a whisper. “I’ll go home and I’ll strip off my clothes and I’ll lie back on my bed and touch myself. I’ll stroke my cock and think about you, and wish that your body was on top of mine, and your mouth was swallowing my moans, and your hands were touching me and stretching me and getting me so hard and so ready for you that when you finally fucked me I came without even touching myself.”

“Garrett,” Jonah murmured against his temple, linking his hands behind Garrett’s back and pulling him close enough to put delicious pressure against both of their groins. Garrett smirked and ground in a little bit, eliciting a wordless gasp from the other man.

“That’s what will happen if you tell me to stop,” Garrett told Jonah. “But I’d rather get off right now, however I can, with you. You can have my mouth…” He trailed his lips teasingly down Jonah’s neck and across to his shoulder. “Or my hand.” He stroked Jonah through the fabric of his pants. “Or my ass.” He pulled back and looked into his dazed lover’s eyes. “Although honestly I’d rather wait for a bed or a couch where we can actually get comfortable before doing that one.”

“Gimme your hand,” Jonah muttered after a moment, his voice low and guttural and needy. “And I’ll give you mine.” He fumbled through the fastening to Garrett’s pants and pulled him out, and when that hot, hard hand closed around his length, Garrett had to bite his teeth to keep from groaning.

“You like me takin’ care of you, darlin’?” Jonah asked, taking his turn to tease. “Like my hand on you, touching you like this?”

“Yes,” Garrett whispered. God, it felt so good, so much better than with Steven. That had been all technique with no real emotion. This was very basic technique, but for some reason it charged every nerve in Garrett’s body, made him feel so much so strongly, and so fast. He was dripping wet with precome, and so absorbed by Jonah’s touch that it took two tries to free his lover’s own cock. “Fuck, how do you do this to me? No one does this to me.”

“No one wants you like me,” Jonah told him, and it rang like a confession in Garrett’s ears. “God, I want you. Moment I saw you I wanted you so much, it hurt. There, just like that…fuck, Garrett.” They leaned into each other hard, leaving just enough space for their hands to work as they devoured each other’s mouths. Garrett felt every shiver that worked its way down his lover’s frame, felt them intensify, and he drank in the gasping sigh of completion that Jonah breathed as he came, hard and long, into Garrett’s hand. Garrett came a moment later, and he melted against Jonah’s body and trembled with stifled satisfaction, unable to let loose the cries that hammered at his throat.

They stood in silence for a few minutes, trading slow, gentle kisses before Jonah reached over and grabbed a dishtowel. He tenderly wiped up the come patterning Garrett’s hand and clothes before perfunctorily cleaning himself off. “‘m just goin’ straight to the shower anyway,” he said, his accent thicker than ever.

“I wish I could join you.”

“Me too,” Jonah said, and Garrett could see that he meant it.

“We’ll get there,” Garrett told him seriously.

“I hope we do.” Jonah leaned in and kissed Garrett one more time, then lifted himself off the wall. “I’ll call you tomorrow once I get my new work schedule. Everything’s changin’ now that we’re dirt side.”

“For me too,” Garrett sighed, “but honestly my schedule can only get better.”

“You do look a little worse for wear.”

Garrett punched Jonah lightly on the arm. “Wrong response.”

“But still incredibly sexy and so gorgeous it hurts.”

“Better.” Garrett refastened his clothes and walked over to the door. “Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow,” Jonah promised. “Sleep well, darlin’.”

“I’ll do my best.” Garrett left the Helms’ apartment, shutting the door behind him. He shivered for a second, adjusting to the chill of the hallway as compared to the warmth he’d just left behind. “Damn it.”


“Journal Record Eighteen, beginning.”

“I hate indecisiveness. I hate gray zones, I hate wishy-washy, here today and gone tomorrow type bullshit from people. I’m a scientist, I like data and facts and hypotheses that can be tested. I’ve never put up with uncertainty for long in my personal life. If someone wants me and I want them, it’s done. If they want me and I don’t want them, also done. I don’t pine for people I can’t have, and when it’s over it’s over. If I’ve screwed up, I have to live with that.

“Jonah is becoming the kind of personal gray zone I’ve tried to avoid my whole life. I don’t need to work this fucking hard to be with someone. Usually all I have to do is ask and someone’s willing to fuck around with me; look at Steven. I don’t have to play these games if I don’t want to, so what makes Jonah-fucking-Helms so special that I’m willing to do it? Is it his kid? I don’t really think so, it’s not like I’ve ever wanted to be a father, so I’m probably not yearning for that role subconsciously. Is it just that he’s Jonah? Is it the two of them put together? I don’t fucking know, but now I’m trading furtive hand jobs and playing phone tag, and I fucking like it. I look forward to it.

“Then again…what else do I have to look forward to?”


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Sorcery and the Black Sow

A quick note before we begin: Blogspot is screwing with me, and I haven’t been able to respond to any comments posted here lately. It isn’t that I don’t love you. I do. I’m working on the problem. With that said, let’s move on to talk about something not really related to writing.

Not long ago I was witness to an incident that 99.5% of the people who live in my town would call sorcery. It’s hard for me to buy into the idea of sorcery, not only because of the spiritual connotations it has here but because, well, I’m an American. I have a background in the sciences, and I’m married to a scientist. I like science. When I see an event like what I saw that day, I tend to think, “Bad luck.” But everyone here would tell me differently, and it’s enough to make me wonder if I need to be more open-minded.

Let me set the scene. I was sitting on a wooden bench on the porch of an abandoned building right next to the major road passing through town. I was with eight other people, all of them Togolese, all of them professionals. We were discussing the work schedule for the NGO we’re all associated with for the upcoming year. Over on the road, where the shoulder would be if such a thing existed on roads here, a black sow walked by.

Here’s a little bit of background: black is the color associated with sorcery in my part of Togo, when referencing an animal. Black animals are what sorcerers prefer to possess when they have mischief to make, and because of that you can’t bring a black animal into the market or other very public places. It’s considered bad luck and tempting fate. We have a black dog, and the few times we tried taking him to the market, back when we were still naïve in the ways of Togo, the dirty looks and the shouting were enough to drive the point home that, if something bad happened, not only would our dog be blamed but we would be too. We hightailed it out of there tout suite.

The black sow that walked by was enormous by local standards. Her back probably came up to my mid-thigh, and she was utterly black, not white-footed or splotched or spotty or even dirty. Perfectly black. A very noisy moto raced by on the road next to her, and the sow startled and began to trot across the road to the other side. The moto that had been tailing the noisy one didn’t swerve in time and ran smack into the side of the sow. There was a crash, the moto tipped and slid along the pavement and the sow was knocked prone. She squealed and kicked so hard she rotated herself in a circle, but she clearly had internal injuries and died shortly after.

The man on the moto, who wasn’t wearing a helmet (because who apart from Peace Corps volunteers does that here? No one!), was prone on the ground. I got up to go over and see if there was anything I could do, but my homologue grabbed my arm and hauled me back onto the bench. “You don’t need to go over there,” she told me firmly. “There are plenty of people to help without you getting involved.” And there were plenty of people crowding around the man to give him assistance, but no one touched the sow.

Everyone I was sitting with was muttering darkly about “le porc noir” to each other. When the man stood up and was taken away to the hospital, they all were very relieved. The crowd dispersed, but still no one touched the body of the sow.

The road on which the sow died is part of the major road that runs the length of Togo. It’s the only real road in this country, period. The only paved road outside the capitol. The only road for commercial trucks to make their way on. This pig was lying in the middle of it, and no one would move her. Even the huge trucks just went around without hanging on their horns, which was amazing. Finally I turned to my homologue and asked, “Shouldn’t we move the body?”

“Oh no,” she told me. “If we move the pig, it’s as good as a confession and we’ll have to pay that man’s hospital bills.”

“But why?”

“Because the pig was put there by sorcery. Someone cursed that man. It’s a good thing the pig died, because otherwise the man would have had to kill it.”

“You never see black pigs like that in town anymore,” another person spoke up. “Only in little villages, or at night. That was a curse, for sure.” Everyone nodded.

Right then it started to rain, hard, and so we moved our benches inside the abandoned building and finished out meeting inside. When we reemerged, the pig had been pulled to the side of the road, but still no one claimed the body. It was a lot of meat to just go to waste, but no one wanted to touch it because of the sorcerous taint.

In the States, firstly, I’d keep my livestock off of the road, but secondly, if someone ran over my pig, I’d expect them to pay me for it. If it caused them to fall off their motorcycle, well, then we might both get lawyers. Here, nothing is tied down except during planting season to keep the animals from destroying the young crops, and if you run something over, meh. You keep going. My husband and I, in our two years here, have been in cars that have hit chickens, goats (two at once), a pig, a monitor lizard (that was especially sad) and a cow. Yeah, a cow. The cow kept walking, but none of the other animals did. Do I think those animals were put in front of us deliberately? No.

My opinion about this incident, that it was a dumb accident, was the tiny minority. Everyone else knew it was sorcery and accepted the fact. Christian, Muslim or animist: it didn’t matter. It was sorcery. Their opinions were so steadfast that it made me stop and think about some of the things I take for granted, way deep down inside. Just because I don’t believe in it doesn’t mean sorcery doesn’t happen. My beliefs aren’t ruling the world. I’m not the center of the universe. Solipsism bubble, consider yourself popped.

Next time, back to our regularly scheduled posting.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New Release: Shadowed


Shadowed, published by Pink Petal Books, is the sequel to Treasured and stars the same main characters, Daniel Hart and Reese Daveth.  It's magic and mayhem and sex and sweetness and other wonderful things revolving around two of my favorite characters.  Their stories are so easy to write, and the stuff that comes out is so much fun.  If you liked Treasured I think you'll really enjoy Shadowed, and if you haven't read Treasured yet, it would be nice but it isn't necessary in order to understand what goes on in this story.

Have a cover, a blurb and a link!

                                                                   Shadowed Link

After a rocky start to their relationship, Daniel Hart and Rhys Daveth are looking forward to putting the past behind them and spending a private, romantic Christmas holiday together in Venice. Trouble follows their trail, however, and after only a few days together Rhys is drugged and kidnapped by agents of an espionage program that he fled from years ago. Daniel barely escapes being taken as well, and afterwards is found by another party interested in Rhys: his friends and coworkers, fellow thieves who tracked him down once they realized he was being hunted.

Time is flying and the thieves are having no success finding Rhys, despite their magical and technological expertise. In order to save his lover’s life, Daniel will have to trust a new magic that exists between him and Rhys, a connection he doesn’t understand and has never mentioned to anyone else. Daniel doesn’t know what he’s dealing with or what the consequences might be, but if he doesn’t use his strange new ability to find Rhys, the man he loves may be lost forever.