Tuesday, June 26, 2012

FIRE!!! Seriously, again?

Not that close, but still, Boulder now gets its own fire.  In fact, the county has two!  Not close to me, I'm down in the town and not in the mountains yet, but the facility my husband works at is right on the other side of the mountain.  He's waiting to see whether they'll have to evac, and whether to take the hydrogen bottles that comprise a part of their experiments with them when they go.  Hydrogen: a fire that burns so hot its invisible.  Not the sort of thing you want compounding a forest fire. 

Odds are this won't amount to much because there are already so many fires burning here that our response teams are amazing right now.  Still, this is a record-setting year for heat, drought and fires in Colorado.  We're winning at all the wrong things.

In other news...well, hell, there isn't much.  I'm moving, packing, prepping for a trip to Florence OR, and scrounging for time to write anything.  I'll try to get the first part of the new Pandora escapade to you before I leave on Monday, but no promises, guys.  It's not that I don't want to, it's that I don't want to give you second-rate fic for the sake of expediency.  I love you that much:)

Okay, a little other news.  I have a story coming out in the Total E-Bound anthology Oberon's Court in December, which is awesome!  Changing Worlds got 4.5 stars from Booked Up Reviews here: Booked Up Reviews: Changing Worlds.  I'm going to submit my second Love is Always Write story to goodreads soon, out sometime in July.  It's not that things are bad.  They're just a bit frantic.

Anyway!  Take care, dahlings.  Stay out of the mountains.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Because I couldn't resist...

This evening's entertainment was the period drama (snicker) Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.  It automatically wins for best title ever slapped on a piece of historical paranormal fiction, ever!

That being said, the movie didn't really live up to the awesomeness of the title.  There was some backstory, yes, the tragic tale of the loss of Abe's mother to a vampire's bite, revenge overtaking reason, the inevitable and ridiculously fast training period for the up and coming young slayer.  It's amazing how quick some people take to swinging axes in circles and chopping down trees with one blow.  I thought he'd be squeezing water from stones next, maybe. 

Honestly, I thought the good guys were pretty well developed, and I loved the backdrop of the Civil War as a setting for vampire vs human conflict.  I feel compelled to go and read the book now, I know I'll enjoy it (I liked Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but then, who didn't?).  But I felt the villains were rote, and there was just too much gratuitous action (the horse scene, mother of God, are you serious?  Really?  You couldn't come up with anything better than that?  Really?).  Which is a weird thing to say, as I love action movies, but you can't expect me to get emotionally caught up in an epic story of good vs evil if the poignant themes are subsumed by heaping helpings of blood and gore.    I had the same problem with Snow White and the Huntsman; it asked me to care without really giving me a reason to.  And then there was the whole Kristen Stewart thing compounding that movie's issues, which...well, whatever.

Anyway, yes, there is fun to be had with this film.  If you love vampire movies, then this addition to the genre isn't to be missed.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Exploding Into 30

So.  Thirty happened.  It was a blast.


No really, it was pretty good!  My dad visited, I ate out at a fancy restaurant, I got lots of lovely birthday wishes and some very thoughtful gifts...all around, a good time.  But now I'm the big 3-0, and feeling like I need to accomplish something, because this is what adults do.  Accomplish stuff.  So I'm going to be thinking a lot about what that means, exactly, and will get back to you when I figure something out.  Maybe an epic. But whatever it is, I'll make you proud!

I was all set to bitch and moan about what my next blog writing project should be, and then a helping mind suggested a follow-up to Pandora.  And I thought, totally!  Because I'd love to write some from Cody's perspective now that he's got two parents, one of whom is Garrett.  I want to see Daddy Garrett come out and play!  So that's where I'm at.  The next story installment to come knocking will be a Pandora epilogue, maybe longer if it really speaks to me.  Cinders was weird and fun and I'm happy I did it, but Pandora is a much more comfortable world to play with.  Any other suggestions, throw them out here while I'm amenable and ambitious!

Next up in the publishing world is probably another free story with Love is Always Write.  After that, nothing until August.  Breathe...

*cake image courtesy of Supernatural:)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cinders Post #12

Notes:  Let the Dirty Thirty begin!  I have a good feeling about this year.  I've got some big projects in the works, one mainstream-ish, several for my erotica lovers and now, a black hole where I should be writing a story on this blog.  Hmmm...what shall I do?  That's a questions for tomorrow.  Happy Birthday to me, and huge thanks to all of the people who read and write and make me feel so good about choosing to pursue writing with their kind words and encouragement.  I couldn't do this without you.

Title: Cinders

Part Twelve:  And They All Lived...


Notes: Let the Dirty Thirty begin! I have a good feeling about this year. I've got some big projects in the works, one mainstream-ish, several for my erotica lovers and now, a black hole where I should be writing a story on this blog. Hmmm...what shall I do? That's a questions for tomorrow. Happy Birthday to me, and huge thanks to all of the people who read and write and make me feel so good about choosing to pursue writing with their kind words and encouragement. I couldn't do this without you.

Title: Cinders

Part Twelve: And They All Lived...


Asher runs through the door at top speed, stumbles on the stairs and falls onto the walkway. He hits shoulder first, and the grind of the concrete through the thin cloth of his t-shirt really sucks, but at least he misses going face first. He lays there for a second, eyes closed and breathing heavily, before he tentatively opens up and looks around. There sky is dark purple fading to orange, and the streetlights closest to him go off as he watches. Streetlights. Electricity. That means…

“Holy shit.” Asher levers himself to his hands and knees and looks around, astonished. He’s in the front yard of the mystery house, a few feet away from the wrought iron fence. The door behind him is still open, a black hole that gives nothing away, and yet here he is. In skinny jeans, a t-shirt, jacket and wearing just one sneaker. Real clothes. “Holy shit! He’s back. The gate was the doorway he needed. He’s back, he can go home…

Getting up isn’t at all a conscious thing. The gate opens with a bang but Asher doesn’t even hear it, instead he’s tearing of down the street like his ass is on fire, running and not caring that he’s barefoot and probably fucking himself up royally. He’s not that far from home, he can be there fast. Familiar landmarks spring up, familiar people too, and a few of them send catcalls his way, which he ignores. Fuck ‘em. Asher has places to be. He’s running his heart out and he’s lucky, he doesn’t step on glass or metal or anything, just makes it back to his apartment building in record time, puts his hand on the door and then—

He sees himself. A picture of himself is posted here, on the glass. MISSING is printed out bold in caps over his head, with a plea for any information and Ty’s number listed below it. Which makes him wonder…how long has he been gone? Time passes differently in situations like this, right? You think you’re taking a nap and you wake up a hundred years later, or you spend a day in fairyland and it’s been a year. Well. Asher is sure that this wouldn’t be on the door if he’s been gone for a year; not even Ty could be that optimistic, but clearly it’s been long enough to worry him. That’s the last thing Asher ever wanted.

He takes a few deep breaths, then grabs the poster and tears it off, throws it onto the ground. He’s back now. Asher takes the stairs two at a time, because they’re faster than the ancient elevator, and heads into their hall. Their apartment is at the end. He can see light from beneath the door, which is unusual because Ty is never up early enough to see the sunrise. Asher shuts his eyes for a moment, strangely nervous, then tries the door. It opens, and he steps inside.

The light in the kitchen is on but the living room is still dark. Asher can just make out Ty’s outline, large and awkward folded onto the couch, partially covered by a blanket. He wants to go to him, but it feels like his feet are glued in place now. He sees the blanket shift and clears his throat. “Ty.”

Ty mumbles something and lifts his head. “Ash?” When he gets his face free of the cover and really looks, the sleepiness vanishes and he sits up, staring like he’s seeing a ghost. “Ash?” he repeats, and the uncertainty in his voice is heartbreaking.

“Yeah,”Asher replies, and that’s all he has time for before Ty is on him, springing up like a frightened gazelle and closing the distance between them in record time thanks to his freakishly long legs. He doesn’t pause, just pulls Asher immediately into his arms, and it’s all Asher can do to stay on his feet when those arms wrap around him. Ty smells like himself, something warm and young and welcome, and he feels even better. He feels real, not imagined, not made up on the spot to imitate the original. Like his scent…Asher can’t describe it, but he knows it, viscerally. This is reality, and it’s so much better than anything else some fairy world could conjure up.

Ash,” Ty says again, holding him even tighter, and Asher can’t really breathe right now but he also can’t really care. He pulls back just enough to lift his face and captures Ty’s mouth in a kiss. Ty has morning breath, which is perfect in its imperfectness, and there’s the chipped incisor and there’s that sound he makes in his throat, that needy sound that Asher loves so much. They lose themselves in it for a while before Ty finally pulls back. His expression is completely wrecked. “Where have you been?”

“Um…” Here comes the fun part. Asher prevaricates long enough to shut the door and kick off his one shoe, wincing as he does so. Ty looks down at his bare feet and frowns, but he’s not put off the scent. “Can we sit down?”

No,” Ty says. His hair is a rat’s nest, brown strands sticking up in every direction, and his eyes are red-rimmed and tired. He looks like he needs to sleep for a week, but Asher knows that suggestion would just get him punched on the shoulder. Hard. “Tell me where you’ve been.” He glances down again. “Without finding another shoe that whole time, jesus.”

Asher sighs. “How long was I gone?”

Ty looks at him incredulously. “Three days!” The anger Asher is fearing doesn’t show up; instead he sees worry. “How long did you think you were gone?”

Three weeks. “Longer,” Asher says honestly. He can’t tell Ty what really happened, or at least what Asher thinks really happened; who would believe he was caught in a fairy tale? He goes with a partial truth. “I don’t really know what happened to me. I walked until I found this house, and I went inside and…things got weird, man. It was like being in a completely different world. I didn’t know where I was and I couldn’t get out, and all I could think about was getting back to you.” Now the emotion is on his part, pure fear just barely dulled. “I thought I might never see you again.”

“Fuck, who found you, did they give you drugs? God, sit down.” Asher lets Ty tug him over to the couch, and it feels like the most comfortable thing in the world. Ty is still holding onto his arms and Asher likes it. In fact, he wants more, and leans forward to rest against Ty’s chest. They aren’t normally cuddlers, and Ty is taken aback at first, but then he’s holding on for his life again, hard and possessive, and Asher loves it. “Tell me what happened. Do you need to go to a hospital?”

“No,”Asher says. “I just…it felt like a long time for me, man. More than three days. I missed the hell out of you. I didn’t stay away because I wanted to, Ty. You know I wouldn’t do that to you.”

“I know,”Ty says instantly, and his response soothes Asher. “You’d never just leave me like that. I put up missing posters—did you see the one downstairs? I talked to the cops too but they didn’t take me seriously. I went out every night and asked the girls if they’d seen you, and no one could tell me anything. I was so fucking scared.”

“Me too.” Asher inhales deep. “I’d never leave you period, Ty. Not unless you want me to go. I don’t want to…I mean, you’ve got stuff you want to accomplish and I don’t want to hold you back, but you have to know that I’m yours, man. Completely.”

“You’re my what?” Ty asks uncertainly.

“Fuck, you’re really gonna make me say it?” Asher rolls his eyes up to the ceiling but goes on. “I’m your boyfriend, your boy toy, your roommate, whatever. I’m as much as you want me to be. I’ll take what I can get.”

When Ty smiles, really smiles, it’s with his whole face. He doesn’t do it very often, but when he does he looks joyous, and Asher has to smile back. “I want you as my boyfriend,” he says firmly. He leans in for another kiss and Asher responds hotly, suddenly hornier than he’s been in days and finally able to sate himself the way he wants. He leans into the kiss, more aggressive than he usually is, works his fingers into Ty’s perfectly grabbable hair and angles his face just right, comes up onto his knees and pushes forward until Ty is on his back and Asher is on top. They’re grinding together just right and breathing each other, eating each other and living each other. Ty is moaning already, seeking out friction and heat, and Asher knows what he wants.

“Ty,” he murmurs as he breaks their kiss for a moment, “let me fuck you.” It’s kind of a big thing to ask for. They’ve only done it this way once, when Asher took his virginity because he didn’t want Ty’s first time to be with a john. He would do it for them if the money was there, but far more often Ty had given blowjobs, or done the fucking. Plenty of guys wanted to be fucked by a strong young thing like him. Far more of them had wanted to do Asher, and that had been fine, but Asher wanted Ty now. He wanted something that was just theirs, something special. He had expected it to take some convincing. He’s surprised.

Yes,” Ty moans emphatically, arching his hips up. “God yes, please fuck me, I want that with you.”

Well, shit. Okay. “Bedroom,” Asher insists, standing up and tugging Ty with him. He turns to go and trips over something on the floor. “What the…”

“It’s your other shoe,” Ty says a little sheepishly. “I, um, I kept it kind of close. Just because.”

“Freak,”Asher says affectionately, drawing him in for another kiss. They stumble back into the bedroom, both of them losing clothes and laughing and eventually falling into bed. Asher’s still on top, Ty is hot and pliant beneath him, and they’re both hard enough to drill through steel. “You need anything?” Asher asks before he gets going.

“I’m good,” Ty says. “Got lube, got condoms, I just need your dick in my ass.”

Asher’s dick isn’t going to last if Ty keeps that up. “Think you need something else, first.” He rolls Ty onto his stomach and lifts his hips, and Ty groans at the first touch of Asher’s tongue to that tight ring.

“Wanted this forever, since the first time,” he babbles into the pillow, breathing fast and shallow as Asher licks around his rim. “Wanted you in me but I couldn’t, I couldn’t ask, because you—oh, fuck—” Asher pushes the tip of his tongue inside, slowly stretching his boyfriend and loving how that makes him go all shuddery and quiet. Ty doesn’t say anything else, just whimpers and gasps as Asher opens him up slow, gradually adding fingers slicked with lube. It’s been a long time since Ty has done this and he’s really tight, but this time he’s eager instead of nervous, and Asher knows that Ty wants this.

Eventually he pulls back and rolls on a condom, coats it with more lube just to be safe, and then his hands are on Ty’s hips, guiding him back onto Asher’s cock. He planned to take this slow and steady but as soon as he gets the head in Ty is thrusting back hard, and Asher has to bite his tongue so that it bleeds to keep from coming right there.

“M’okay,”Ty says, his voice tight and desperate. “Just do it, please, Ash.” He’s so tight this has got to be hurting, but the best way to make it better is to go on. Asher does, pulling back a little and pressing in again, his hands splayed wide across Ty’s lower back. He uses short, gentle thrusts until Ty relaxes some, then pulls back further, one hand sliding around to touch Ty as he does. Ty’s cock is hard and dripping, and Asher uses that slick to make stroking him easier as he fucks into him. Except it’s not just fucking, it’s more than that somehow, there’s nothing normal about the way Ty feels around him.

He bends down and licks a stripe across Ty’s shoulder blade just because he can, because he wants to taste more of him, then kisses the nape of his neck. Asher leaves his mouth there as he thrusts harder, smelling and tasting and touching as much of Ty as he can. He’s hot and sweaty and perfect and he’s all Asher’s, and Asher doesn’t even realize he’s saying anything until Ty is coming, squeezing so tight around his cock that it almost hurts and the last thing Asher hears before he comes himself and his ears go cottony is his own voice, saying, “Love you, I love you, I love you…”

They collapse onto the bed, rolling sideways to avoid the wet spot. Asher slowly slips free of Ty, trying to catch his breath and make sense of everything that’s happening. He’s got so much to do, more to explain and to say and to promise, and he’s gotta make a plan because he can’t keep working on the streets. The idea of going out and doing this with someone else makes him sick. He’ll figure it out, they’ll figure it all out, but right now he has Ty and they’re finally together the way they should be, and for the first time in three weeks Asher feels like he can really breathe. He reaches down and pulls the condom off, twists and tosses it into the trashcan and then is back, wrapped around Ty before he’s out of his post-orgasm stupor.

They lay quietly together for a while before Ty asks, “Do you mean it?”

“Yes.” Asher has never meant anything more in his whole life.

“Good. I love you, too.”

Asher presses his smile into Ty’s shoulder. “Good.”

Tiny black eyes watch the tableau unfold, and whiskers twitch as the air is saturated with thick, heavy scents. Round ears perk up and listen the whole way through, until the young men fall asleep. Then tiny paws set foot on the carpet, leaving the sanctuary of the jacket behind. A little mouse runs through the living room, squeezes under the crack at the front door, and heads back towards a house that will be gone by tomorrow.

And they lived happily ever after.

Friday, June 15, 2012


Tomorrow, I give you the end of Cinders! Today...well, today is almost special but not quite special enough for that.  Hmm...what can I give you today?

How about a fusion of art, taxidermy, technology and sheer horror?  My husband saw this and had to share. 

It actually flies, baby! And look, the wiring wouldn't be too hard to--

No, sweetheart.


Really. No formerly living animals turned into flying, rolling or jumping machines.  Or machines of any kind.  *The scary/funny thing is, my man is a scientist/enginerd, he could probably actually do this.  And then the PETA would skin him alive.*

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fun To Come! (and come and come)

Hi there darlins'.

First, a brief update on stuff coming up.  I have one more part to go with Cinders, which should be here by the 16th.  I took another LiAW (Goodreads Love is Always Right in the m/m romance group) story prompt, due at the beginning of July.  Have a look.

Dear Author,

Another day, another kick in the ass by that stupid horse. You would think that after all these thousands of years I'd be okay with imprint of a horseshoe on my backside but I have to tell you it's getting old. If I had it to do over, I think I might reconsider telling my king's mage she was so grotesque she could freeze a man (and apparently a horse and chariot) in stone.

Clearly the prompt giver is going for humor.  I'm thinking I'll title the story Frieze Frame.  We'll see what erupts from my brain by the end of the month.

Also, I sold a short story to Dreamspinner Press for their anthology Animal Magnetism, titled Having a Ball.  Yes, pun so totally intended, I know, where is my class?  I used it all up on In All Your Ways.  Now the crass is taking over.  The "Ball" in the story refers most directly to a ball python.  I'll post a snippet (unedited, remember, so not perfect) after my next bit of news.

Which is that my dad, who usually lives in Germany, is going to be able to visit me on my 30th birthday next week inbetween a trip to Oregon and a conference in DC.  Crazy life for that man, but I'm happy!  Also kind of bummed, because now I can't get hilariously hammered and innapropriate on my birthday, but at least I'll get a really awesome meal and the company of my dad, who is pretty goddamn cool.

Okay, so!  Snippet from Having a Ball. 


I was dead on my feet when I got back to Michael’s apartment the next morning.  Whoever thought spray-painted, metal-limbed, light-festooned reindeer was a good decorating choice needed to be shot, repeatedly.  Or at least made to unpack the damn things with me for twelve hours, because I don’t care how fucking decorative they are, one wrong move and you’ve got an antler impaling your arm and a hoof up your nose, and you’re doing everything you can not to drop one of the things because the store policy is you break it, you buy it.  I would burn in hell before I let a five-hundred dollar deer get deducted from my paycheck.

I flopped in the chair next to Ganymede’s cage.  He looked exactly as he’d looked for the past day, like a little ball that moved from one side of the cage to the other depending on whether he was in heating or cooling mode.  I didn’t get the appeal of a snake as a pet.  They weren’t cuddly, they couldn’t play with you, they didn’t purr or bark or play fetch…on the other hand, they wouldn’t be chewing up your shoes or pissing on your bed either, and Michael was kind of a fastidious guy.  He had probably encouraged Kelly to get a nice, clean pet that wouldn’t be a bother, and she had settled on a snake, thanks to…whatever his name was upstairs.

Michael’s instructions belatedly filtered into my mind.  “Oh yeah.  Food.”  Ugh, food.  I had taken a baggie of the pinkies out of the fridge last night and let them defrost, because I knew that putting them in the microwave would just be asking for a mess that gave me nightmares.  They dead mice were waiting where I left them in the kitchen, all gross and semi soggy now.  At least I had already gotten my own food down, because after this process it would have been unlikely.

Apparently there were feeding forceps around here somewhere, but I didn’t see them on the counter or next to the cage, and there was no way I was going to reach in there with my fingers or a fork or something and scoop the pinkies out.  I picked up the damp baggie and brought it over to the cage, removed the top and slowly tipped and shook, hoping that one of the fresh frozen little buggers would cooperate and fall out without much manhandling.

Obediently, one fell into the cage, but I wasn’t fast enough with the baggie and another made its break for freedom before I could tip it right side up.  Two little pinkies rested on the bottom of the cage, and the snake was actually moving now, looking pretty interested in the new arrivals.  I stared down at the tableau, artificial nature in all its Darwinian glory, and shrugged.  “Looks like it’s your lucky day, G.”  The pinkies were tiny, after all.  What could a little extra protein hurt?  I resealed the baggie and put it back in the freezer, washed my hands and retreated to the chintzy bedroom for a solid six hours of sleep.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cinders Post #11

Notes:  Next to last post, right here.  Oh yeah, baby.  You will have the end before the 16th, if I can manage it.  Which I'd better, scheduling for submissions taken into account.  And then...who knows what will come next?

Title: Cinders

Part Eleven: For Whom The Bells Tolls


The narrative is approaching its climax.  This is a tense time for the story threads, woven in and out of their hero, tugging but not outright pulling him along.  He’s got to pick a direction, and depending on what he decides to do, the story may end in triumph or tears.  This is where early efforts at being non-traditional when it comes to the roles laid out in the fairy tale might just rear up and bite.  This time, our hero can’t rely on being pursued back to his home by his handsome prince.  He’s got to make all the right connections himself, he’s got to follow through and then he’s got to have that personal climax that allows this story to tie itself off, satisfied, and seek out a new situation.

Taking a boy like this was a risk, but a story can’t evolve it if never takes risks.  Stories that don’t evolve fade into nothingness, no more myth or legend to support them, no belief to feed off of.  They may be parasites of the human condition, but at least they serve a valuable purpose.  Humanity has to believe in something, and fairy tales are better than some of the narratives out there.

It registers the pounding hooves of its hero’s transformED horse, and waits to see where they go.


Luckily the mouse-horse seems to know where it’s headed, because it’s all Asher can do to keep his ass in the saddle.  Fuck how the West was won, Asher way prefers his steel horse to the real version.  It bounces weirdly, it smells and it also…well…fine, so he might be just a little scared to be up so high on something that lives and breathes and could throw Asher off at any second and trample him into the ground.  Asher hopes that weeks of bread crumbs bought him some goodwill with the little dude.  Big dude.  Whatever.

They ride at a breakneck pace through a forest, then into more fields on the other side, fields that steadily give way to buildings on either side of the road.  It all looks pretty normal, except where it’s dark now and there are no street lights, only candles in the windows.  Eventually they hit an upward slope and the horse slows down to a canter, then a trot.  The trot really fucks with Asher’s balance, and by the time he figures out how to post they’re at the top of the hill, and spread out in front of him is a castle encircled by an immense stone wall.  It’s like…like something out of a fairy tale, Asher thinks with awe before his sarcasm catches up.  ‘Cause, yeah.  What else would it be like?

There are…he doesn’t know the words for all of these things, but Asher’s seen pictures of Notre Dame and Neuschwanstein and he can see aspects that remind him of both of those, high pointing towers and swooping arches and flying buttresses, and it would be pretty cool if there were gargoyles too, but he can’t make any out.  The white castle walls look almost blue in the moonlight, and are well lit with torches.  The horse starts to move and Asher lets him, still a little stunned by the view, and more than a little nervous now that he can breathe without his lungs bouncing into his chest.  Somewhere in that place is Ty.  Asher just has to make it to him.

“If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?” Ty asked idly one morning, a late morning with no classes for him and a long night to recover from for Asher.  They were sitting together on the couch, drinking instant coffee and eating potato chips.  There was a commercial on TV featuring a sandy white beach and girls in bikinis windsurfing. 

“I mean, like, anywhere,” Ty continued, going on to answer his own question.  “You don’t have to limit it to Earth.  When I was a kid, I always wanted to visit Hobbiton.”  He flushed slightly.  “Which I know sounds kind of dumb, but it was supposed to be a happy place, right?  With animals and farms and people living under hills and not really worrying about big stuff.  I always worried about big stuff as a kid.”

Asher thought for a moment, weighing his options, before picking up one of Ty’s giant feet and putting it in his lap.  “You’ve got the right kind of feet for Hobbiton.”

“What do you mean?”


“Dude, shut up,” Ty laughed, digging both of his feet under Asher’s ass.

“No really, I bet you could walk around without shoes and you’d develop awesome calluses and then you could be one of those guys who walks over hot coals and doesn’t feel a thing.  That’s some shit people would pay to see, man.”

“Seriously, though.”  Ty flexed his feet a little, sending a shiver up Asher’s spine.  “Where would you be?”

Asher lifted a hand and pointed towards the screen.  “There,” he said, but what he really meant was, “Here.”  Ty seemed to get it, giving Asher a smug half-smile until Asher was forced to wipe it off Ty’s face with one of the couch cushions.

He rides in through the main gate, and the closer he gets to the actual castle the more well-dressed people he has to dodge, mostly women strolling as fast as they can to the ball when hampered by tiny, fashionable shoes.  Carriages were stopped back at the gate, but Asher makes it almost to the front steps of the place before he’s asked to dismount.  He does so awkwardly, feeling self-conscious as his slippers hit the ground, but the groom takes his horse with a little bow.  Apparently meeting the dress code is all it takes to get in through the front door, because Asher’s not asked to prove that he’s supposed to be here, no need to display an invitation.  He fingers the wax seal he’s carrying in his jacket, walks in through the high marble doorway and enters an internal courtyard filled with people wearing every color of the rainbow, flitting about like exotic birds of prey.  Every person here is on a mission. 

Asher really does fit right in.

Fitting in isn’t good, though, Asher has to stand out.  First he’s got to find Ty, though.  He hops up onto a decorative but useless little wall, ignoring the scandalized looks as he scans the crowd.  Nothing promising.  Ty is tall in the present day; among these people he’s gotta be a veritable giant, and there are no humongous dudes in this crowd.  Maybe inside.  Asher jumps down—

A hand on his arm turns him.  Asher’s pulled around and suddenly is face to face with Pinky.  She looks puzzled.  Puzzled is good.  If Asher were looking at Envy or his evil stepmother right now, “puzzled” would not be the look.  They’d be more likely to be incensed, maybe murderous. 

“Have we met?” Pinky asks coquettishly.  “You seem very familiar, sir.”

Don’t recognize me when I’m not covered in mud and wearing burlap, huh, bitch.  Asher makes an effort to deepen his voice.  “No.”

Pinky smiles, not at all put off by his brevity.  “Then it’s high time we make each other’s acquaintance!  Are you a member of the prince’s entourage?  I don’t recognize your regalia.”

“Actually…”  Asher considers it for a second.  He steps closer and lowers his voice and prepares to bury them both in bullshit.  “I’m here on a mission.  I work for His Majesty’s secret service, and we have intelligence stating that an assassin has been sent to kill the prince.  It’s a man wearing a—” He mentally casts about for a moment, “a rose in his…um, cravat.”  That’s a real thing, isn’t it?  “Whoever apprehends this gentleman will have the personal gratitude of the prince.  The very, very personal gratitude of the prince.”  Pinky’s eyes light up, and Asher has to suppress a snicker.  “But please, don’t do anything to endanger yourself,” he adds.  Because I don’t deserve to be that freaking happy in this life.

“Oh,” Pinky breathes happily, “I shan’t!  I, I’m sure I can help without putting myself in any danger.”

“I’m sure you can.”  Asher squeezes her hand a little too hard and then pries it off his arm.  He watches her flounce off eagerly, and seeing the back of her is a beautiful thing.  Then he heads up the steps into the main castle.

He enters the equivalent of whatever a courtyard with a ceiling is, a great stone hall with long folds of cloth covering the walls, swaths of blue and red, the prince’s colors.  The crowd is even denser in here, but dense can’t hide height, and Asher can finally see Ty now.  He’s standing on the other side of the room and surrounded by his posse, which has taken on the role of screening the crowd that’s trying to mob the poor dude.  And it’s a big crowd.

A really, really big crowd.  Asher tries to press through it, but the velvet and taffeta is almost suffocating in close quarters.  And there are bustles.  Who the fuck invented those?  Why did someone feel the need to make asses bigger than they already are?  It’s like giving shoulder pads to people who aren’t playing some sort of impact sport.  Asher tries and tries again, going at one route or another for more than ten minutes, but it’s pretty much impossible to do this politely.  Hell, with the corsets these girls are wearing it might even be impossible to do it impolitely, his elbows will probably just bounce off the whalebone.  He grits his teeth and prepares to do his best to bull his way through. 

A shrill scream of triumph echoes off the stone, and Asher turns just in time to see a huge puff of pink sail through the air and triumphantly tackle a nearby man.  “I have him!” Pinky shrieks.  “I found him!  Your Highness, you’re safe now!  I have him!”

Eyes naturally gravitate towards the display.  Asher takes advantage of the lull to slide through the courtiers, ducking and dodging and finally making it to the thin red and blue line.  He comes face to face with the same man who delivered the invitation to his former prison, who looks at him with surprise and some suspicion.  “I don’t know you.”

“You wouldn’t,” Asher says, deciding to play it straight.  From what he saw, this man has no love for any of Asher’s transplanted family.  “My mother and sisters usually keep me in the kitchens.  It was sheer chance that I made it this far tonight.”

“Oh.  Them.”  Distaste twists his face.  “Are you as desperate as they are to meet the prince?”

Yes, yes, I’m so desperate I could die if you don’t let me talk to Ty right the fuck now.  “I would like to meet him,” Asher says, “but I don’t want to make him uncomfortable.  If you think I would…”  You better not think I would, let me in, let me in, let me in before I lose my fucking mind…

“He is supposed to be socializing tonight,” the man muses.  He looks over Asher’s shoulder and his eyes widen a little.  “What in God’s name is your stepsister doing?”  The noise is coming closer.  Apparently Pinky is a lot better at elbowing her way through these kinds of crowds than Asher, even when she’s towing a semi-conscious guest behind her.

“She’s insane,” Asher says with complete certainty.  “I’d lock her up if I were you.”  He brushes past the man and a second later he’s face to face with—

Ty.  God, it’s Ty.  Not Ty the cartoon character like so many of the other people here are, not an unnaturally bright creature from some fever dream.  It’s Ty in a weirdly poufy costume, wearing awkward shoes and an awkward expression as he talks awkwardly to an obsequious socialite, but he looks real.  Asher doesn’t see any of that, though, all he sees now is the face that he loves.  His mouth dries up and he doesn’t remember how to speak, but it’s okay, because Ty seems to be in the same situation.  He does that thing where his mouth opens and closes over and over again, and his big brown eyes go wide.  He brushes away the hand curling over his shoulder and steps a little closer.

 “Hello,” he says at last.  His voice is…it’s just what it should be.  Gorgeous, throaty, a little tentative.  Sexy as hell.

“Hi,” Asher says.  He balls up his fists to keep from reaching out and touching Ty.  He doesn’t want to spook him.  Ty seems to know him in some way, not the immediate recognition Asher was looking for but something is better than nothing.  He just needs some more time.

“I’m Prince Tyler.”

Asher smiles.  “I know who you are.”

Ty blushes.  “Of course.”  He tilts his head a little.  “Have we met?”

Yes, we have, you know me.  “I have a familiar face.”

“No, you’re like no one I’ve ever seen here before.  I would remember knowing you.”

You will.  “Can we talk?  Somewhere else?”

“Of course.”  There’s a wooden door behind them, partitioned off by Ty’s entourage.  They head to it, their escape covered by Pinky’s cacophony.  The door takes them into a hall which emerged on a private balcony.  The noise is distant now, a murmur of voices that seems far away.  The moon is out, illuminating both of them, and Asher can’t look enough.  Ty appears equally captivated.

“What is your name?” Ty asks.

“Asher McKellan.”  Asher waits for any additional sign of recognition, but there isn’t one.

“Where do you come from?  Why have I not met you before?”

“It’s a long story,” he says after a second, not really wanting to explain the whole ‘servant’ thing.

“Are you a member of my kingdom?”

“I’m definitely your loyal subject,” Asher replies earnestly.  Ty looks down for a moment, shy, and it’s so endearing Asher feels like he might explode with the need to touch him.

“This is very strange,” Ty says after a beat.  “I feel as though we’re connected, as though we’ve known each other for a long time.  How can I feel such trust for you without knowing you better?”

Now isn’t the time to talk about alternate dimensions.  Later, when Ty’s memory is back.  “You should go with your instincts, Ty.”  He almost bit his tongue using the nickname.  “I mean, Tyler.  Or Highness, whatever you want.”

“I would rather you not call me Highness, it seems foreign coming from your lips.”

“Would you like something familiar instead?”

“What do you have in mind?” Ty asks raptly.

“A kiss.”  Aren’t kisses supposed to break spells in these things?  “One little kiss.”

His mouth drops open again, and Asher can tell he’s blushing.  “You are very forward, Asher McKellan.” 

Asher notes that that’s not a no.  “I can be, but only when I know what I want.”  He moves a little closer.  “Please.  One kiss.”

“That’s all?”

“That’s all,” Asher promises.  Unless you want more.

“I think I can grant you a kiss,” Ty says, his voice deeper now, his body drawing in.  They close the distance, and before Ty has the time to reconsider, Asher puts his hands on his hips and kisses him.  His lips are warm and soft, and after a surprised moment they open.  Asher tastes Ty’s mouth, and it’s sweet and hot and…

Wrong.  It’s wrong.  The taste is off, and when his tongue explores Ty’s teeth, they’re all perfect.  Asher actually feels a familiar chip form on the incisor while he’s pressed to it.  He draws back, leaving Ty breathless and beautiful and shaking.  Except it isn’t Ty.  He knows now, and he has to leave fast, before he traps himself in this beautiful lie.

“That was perfect,” Ty says softly, and Asher nods his head even as he’s readying himself to run.  It was perfect, and that’s a sure sign it isn’t right.  Real life isn’t perfect.  “Asher McKellan…I wish to know you better.  Will you stay with me?”

“I—Highness, I—”

“A moment ago I was Ty,” the copy says sadly, and Asher can’t bring himself to be mean to any incarnation of the man he loves.

“Ty, there’s something I have to do.  Once I’m done with that, I’ll come straight to you.”

“Can I not send a servant to attend to it for you?”

“It’s something only I can do,” Asher tells him.  “Please.  It won’t take long.”

“You swear to come back to me?”

“You’re all I want,” Asher promises him, the words ringing hollow even if they are true.

“I believe you.”  The prince points towards the slender metal staircase at the end of the balcony.  “Take that down.  Turn left once you hit the grounds and you’ll end up by the stables.”  He smiles shyly.  “I will leave the door open for you.”

“Thank you.”  Asher turns and walks away quickly, needing to be gone from this almost-Ty, close enough to remind Asher of exactly what he’s been missing this whole time.  He feels empty, hopeless.  He doesn’t know what to do; he only knows he can’t stay here.  He can’t go back.  He walks despondently to the stables and finds his horse.

“Where did I go wrong?” he asks it.  “What did I miss?” He hears a bell begin to toll and figures it must be midnight.  His horse suddenly hits him in the chest with its bony jaw.  “Ow!  What?”  The second bell tolls, and the horse hits him again, and suddenly Asher remembers that kisses aren’t the only things that can breaks spells in fairy tales.  The stroke of midnight…he needs to be out of the castle before the change.  Because something’s gonna change.  “Shit!”

It takes two more bells to scramble into the saddle, and another two to get out of the stables.  Asher leans forward and gives the horse its head, lets it race towards the castle gate.  Guests dodge frantically as Asher speeds towards the spot that might be, just maybe, the portal that he needs.  Nine bells.  Ten.  Eleven, and they’re so close he can almost taste it through the tears on his face.  On the twelfth bell, they charge through the gate.

And the world…changes.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A twisty Snow White

It's the freakin' weekend, baby!

My man and I went to see Snow White and the Huntsman last night.  Hmm...I would have to give it a mixed review.

The trailer looked awesome.  I mean, who doesn't want to see Charlize Theron having a milk bath?

As far as picturesque beauty went, this movie had it in spades.  Gorgeous people, gorgeous costumes, gorgeous special effects.  Decent acting, too.  But there were so many loose ends and so much forced emotionalism that I just couldn't lose myself to it.  Plus there were a few parts that just got under my skin, like the cavalry charge that should rightly have ended in slaughter because it was so poorly thought out, and the self-defense advice that was so nonsensical I giggled and got a dirty glare from the girl next to me.

I mean, I love fairy tales.  Case in point, I'm writing a freaky version of one myself (the next post is coming, darlins, hang in there) but this one just...uh...I just ended up feeling kind of "meh" about it.  I'd have enjoyed more of the heart eating, myself.  Nom nom nom...

Ah well.  In other news, Cinders Pt. 11 should be up by Monday, and I got an extra LiAW story prompt on goodreads (it was languishing, unloved for days, and I finally just had to nab it) and will tell you all more about it soon.  Also...my birthday is in two weeks, and I want to do something to celebrate it, because this is the big 3-0.  I'm untrustworthy after this.  I'm pondering right now, we'll see if I come up with anything:)