I've been a little preoccupied lately with getting back a sense of my own Americanness. Americanosity? Americanishism? You know: finding a job, drinking beer without formaldehyde overwhelming the subtle tast of...well, beer, getting a car, enjoying the wide and fulsome variety of food available to us, breaking tiny bones in my foot doing jiu jitsu...which won't stop me from doing more! Because that's the American Dream, darling. Doing all sorts of crazy shit to yourself and then having the opportunity to do more of it without dire repercussions.
Just kidding! Kind of. I'm trying to be a responsible adult at least 90% of the time. I'm working, I'm writing, I'm watching my husband construct exotic CNC machines that can carve in three dimensions...yes, he too is happy to be back in the land of easily-findable bits and pieces of high-tech equipment. As far as the writing goes, which I know is what you're all really interested in, I have the following coming up:
--more Pandora (part 24 or 25 I think...coming this weekend)
--A Blinded Mind, a novella coming out with Dreamspinner in October
--a novel continuation of Opening Worlds (in the Wild Passions antho) due in December
--a follow-up for Shadowed, which I'm still working out the details of with Pink Petal Books
--a couple of short stories thatI've submitted to a few different presses... in fact, let me give you a taste of one of them. It's not contracted yet, and if it doesn't get a contract in the next month or so I'll just post it here. I have several things in my archives that will probably be going up here in the next while, stuff that I can't continue revising.
Anyway, here's a snippet from Different Spheres.
Gil Donaldson woke up, rolled over in his chilly bed, looked at his bedside clock and blinked. He looked again, blinked again, then looked at his hands. Then, in a move entirely atypical for him, he engaged in some cathartic profanity. “Fucking goddamn it.”
Every time, every single time this happened—and it was happening more frequently these days—Gil rued the day he had decided to date a statistician. The relationship had ended years ago, but the man’s interminable reliance on numbers and percentages had somehow rubbed off on Gil, to the point that when he had a relapse the first thing he did (after visiting the hospital, getting pumped up on steroids and going through the circus act that was assessing his new place on the EDSS; after all Gil did have a modicum of sense) was to check the online research compendiums for the newest findings about multiple sclerosis. He had tables that compared numbers from the professional journals Lancet, Neurology and, he was ashamed to admit it and never would unless viciously tortured, Wikipedia. He had the National Institute of Health’s website bookmarked several times on his laptop. His library was filled with books, and they multiplied along with Gil’s scleroses with every relapse.
He had sort of felt this coming on, but he’d been holding out hope it wasn’t what he thought. Gil had spent all of yesterday nursing a growing headache, thinking he was coming down with a sinus infection or, if he was lucky, just a cold. He had taken some pills and gone to bed early, hoping that he would be better in the morning. Instead he woke up and saw double of everything.
After allowing himself a brief moment of justifiable panic, Gil had stumbled out of bed, put himself together as best he could and called Tally. Then he had mentally smacked himself for forgetting where she was, hung up his phone and, after assessing his options, walked very carefully one house down and knocked on his neighbor’s front door.
The door opened after a half a minute or so, letting out the scent of strong coffee, metal and sawdust. It was a very masculine smell, and perfectly suited Gil’s neighbor. It was a shame Gil’s vision was blurry as well as doubled, because he wouldn’t have minded seeing two of Warren Masters clearly.
“Gil?” He could practically hear the appearance of those two questioning lines between Warren’s eyebrows. The two of them were courteous neighbors, but they had never gone out of their way to hang out before. “What’s up?”
“Hi, good morning.” Pleasantries out of the way, Gil plunged right in. “I need you to drive me to the hospital. Please.”
“What’s wrong?” Mmm, you could build a ship out of the timbres of this man’s voice. A terse interrogative that nevertheless resonated with concern, heightened awareness and an increased sense of camaraderie all at once. God, he sounded delicious. Gil forced himself to focus.
“I’m having trouble seeing this morning.”
All of a sudden there was a strong hand under his right elbow, supporting him. Under other circumstances that sort of touch would have been really nice. As it was, it was kind of sad that Gil needed it, because he actually did feel more than a little dizzy at this point. “You think it’s a stroke?”
A stroke? “Oh no,” Gil reassured his neighbor. “No, it’s nothing like that. No, I have…” Wait, didn’t Warren know about his condition? It seemed like Gil must have told the man at some point, he’d been living in the house next door for almost six months, but maybe he had never gotten around to it. Maybe he had wanted to see how long he could fool someone who didn’t know him.
“I have MS. Multiple sclerosis,” Gil clarified finally. “I’m just having a relapse, that’s all. A few shots and I’ll be fine, but I do need to go to the hospital. The one on 4th Street would be perfect, that’s where my regular doctor works.”
Warren, man of few words that he was, nevertheless made an effort. “Give me three minutes. I’ve just gotta finish getting dressed.”
He wasn’t dressed yet? Seriously? Gil squinted, but that didn’t improve the blur by much. He sighed. “I can wait here.”
“Not gonna leave you on the porch, Gil,” Warren said exasperatedly. “There’s a chair right inside the door. Six inch step up to get in, don’t trip.”
Honestly, with Warren’s hands guiding him Gil didn’t think there was much chance of him tripping, but he was careful anyway. The last thing he needed right now was a broken whatever on top of temporary near-blindness. Hopefully temporary near-blindness.
This house wasn’t cold like Gil’s but his hands still felt clammy. Strange. A second later Warren pressed a mug of coffee into them. “Help yourself. It’s fresh brewed, black. I’ll be out in a minute.” Then he was gone and Gil was left with his hands warming around a cup of coffee that, if he was lucky, had had Warren Masters’ lips on it this morning. He sampled the coffee. God, strong. Ugh, no, God wasn’t enough deity to properly encapsulate the strength that was this coffee. This coffee was Olympic, Titanic and Chthonic all at once, and just as hard to swallow. Gil choked back his single sip and felt it burn the whole way down. Well, now at least he knew his sinuses would stay clear.