Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Love Letters Post #15


Notes: So!  Here we have two thousand words of almost nothing but sex.  Rating is R, folks, don’t read it if you don’t like it.  Finally.  FINALLY!  I hope you enjoy, darlins. 

I’m thinking we’re about half done with the story at this point—this is turning into a full-fledged novel.  I’m so glad you’re sticking with it:)


Title: Love Letters


Part Fifteen: Close Is Never Close Enough





            Ryan was a very tactile person.  Ben already knew that, he’d known it from practically the first moment they’d met.  He’d experienced it full-body last night, when Ryan had latched onto him and had to be pried off.  Touching, Ben had been expecting.  Kissing, absolutely.  But the diving in and working to strip him out of his clothes almost before the door was closed, not quite.  Ben wasn’t great with people in general, but he thought he was pretty good with Ryan at this point, and he recognized nerves when they were directed at him.  Ryan being pushy was fine, but Ryan being nervous wasn’t what Ben wanted. 

Ben put his hands over Ryan’s, which were beneath his undershirt and hot against his bare chest.  “Mind if we slow down?” he asked. 

                “Yes,” Ryan said, and pressed their mouths together harshly.  Ben moved his hands up to cradle Ryan’s jaws on both sides and gentled the kiss, stepping back from tongue and teeth and making them go slower.  He let Ryan press him against the door, let him push their bodies together but didn’t grind or grip, just held onto him and kissed until the quivering tension that had been driving Ryan ebbed away, and they were left with deep, wet kisses and arms that held each other close, dipping under the edges of clothes and caressing what was beneath but not going further, not yet.

                Ryan tasted like warmth and metal, and running the tip of his tongue across the back of the labrum piercing sent a tingle down Ben’s spine.  Ryan moaned and sighed into his mouth, desperate desire giving way to something tender.  He held onto Ben like Ben was something rare and precious and hard to come by, which with anyone else would have irritated Ben.  He had no illusions about himself, and he knew he wasn’t any of those things.  But to Ryan, maybe he was.  Maybe Ben could be a little bit more to Ryan, just like Ryan was so much more to Ben than just another guy to fuck.

                Oh, hell.  Ben shuddered involuntarily at the thought of actually fucking Ryan.  Ben preferred to top, if he was going to get that intimate with another man, and the very idea of Ryan spread out beneath him begging for it, the tight heat of his ass and the feeling of those legs wrapped around his waist…it was almost enough to make Ben come right there, in his pants, against the wall before they even got to the bed.  And wasn’t the whole point of them not being on the bed yet to slow this thing down? 

                Well, there was slow and then there was glacial.  Ben leaned back and gave them space to speak.  Before he could say anything though, Ryan did.

                “I know I haven’t done a good job of selling you on this yet,” he murmured, staying close enough that their lips brushed as he spoke.  “But I actually am really good at sex.”

                “I don’t doubt it,” Ben told him with complete honesty.  “Want to show me more of what you’re good at?”

                “I’d love to, but first I’d really like you to be naked,” Ryan said with a lascivious smile.  He went after Ben’s shirt again, but slower this time.  His eyes raked over each newly bared inch of skin, hungry for revelation.  Ben knew he looked good—not fabulous, but good—and he let Ryan look as long as he wanted, let his fingers rove and lips trace and didn’t think for a second about how he’d never taken the time to do this with another person before.  Even when Ben went slow with a guy, it was usually more about slow hand jobs, slow blowjobs, slow but overtly sexual acts.  With Ryan he just wanted to give his body over and let the younger man explore to his heart’s content, and even though Ben’s control was decidedly strained by the time Ryan was kneeling in front of him, pulling his briefs down over his hips and leaving them in a heap on the floor with the other clothes, he didn’t let the slow strip end there. 

                “My turn.”  Ben pulled Ryan to his feet (a little reluctantly on Ryan’s part, who had been eyeing Ben’s cock like he was wondering if he could take it all in one long swallow) and tugged him over to the edge of the bed.  Ben sat down and pulled Ryan between his legs, and now it was his turn to trace the lines of Ryan’s stomach with curious fingertips, and taste the taut points of his nipples as Ben gradually tugged Ryan’s t-shirt up and over his head.

                Ryan swayed forward, his hands clenched tight on Ben’s shoulders.  When Ben went for the fly of his jeans Ryan put a hand down and stopped him.  “If you take those off, if you even just…if you just touch me there, I swear to God, I’ll come right now.  I’ve…I’ve kind of been thinking about this for a long time.”

                Ben felt strangely flattered, and he wasn’t sure if he liked the feeling or not.  He wasn’t vain enough to find the idea of someone pining over him gratifying.  He had to say something, though.  “I’d really like to watch you come,” he told Ryan, mouthing over his smooth, nearly hairless chest.  “We’ll be at this for a while, so don’t hold back on my account.”  His hand hovered over Ryan’s jeans.  “Can I take them off now?”

                “Fuck, okay,” Ryan breathed.  He kept his arms looped around Ben’s shoulders and shut his eyes as Ben slowly began to open him up.  Ryan’s underwear was somewhere between hideous and delightful, lime-green but so silky that Ben couldn’t resist reaching around and cupping Ryan’s ass, pulling his legs flush against the edge of the bed.

                Ryan’s breath hitched loudly.  He moaned and moved even further forward, getting his knees up on the bed next to Ben’s hips and straddling Ben’s bare thighs.  He was so hard beneath the bright fabric that when Ben slid a hand around to the front and tugged at the hem, the crown of Ryan’s cock pushed free immediately.  It was slick and shining, and Ben just had to touch it.  He circled his thumb around the head, smoothing out the liquid gathered there, and that was it for Ryan.  He cried out like he was breaking, grabbed Ben so hard he could feel his shoulder blades squeeze against the sides of his spine, and came all over Ben’s hand.

                Ben bared his teeth against Ryan’s shoulder and desperately clamped down on the surge in his blood that came with Ryan so abandoned in his arms.  He was not going to let go out of some sympathetic reaction to Ryan’s orgasm, even though he wanted to so fucking badly he was literally seeing stars.

                “Oh my god,” Ryan sighed eventually.  “Damn, it’s like I’m fourteen again around you.”

                Ben laughed weakly.  “I’m really glad you’re not fourteen; that would make this so wrong.”

                “Just figuratively speaking, writer-man,” Ryan said.  He took Ben’s hand and wiped it off against his jeans, then pulled them the rest of the way off, along with the underwear.

                Ben nudged the lime green fabric with his feet.  “Were those your idea?”

                “They were a gift from Jasmine two years ago for my birthday.  I’ve got them in chemical orange, hot pink and electric blue, too.”  Ryan put his hands on Ben’s chest and pushed him onto his back.  “But I’m really a lot more interested in you right now than old birthday presents.”  They climbed a ways up the bed, until Ben’s head was on a pillow.  Ryan hovered over him, still a little unsteady from his orgasm but looking at Ben with hunger.  His bright blue irises were barely visible around the blown circles of his pupils.  “I want to suck you.”

                Ben’s cock throbbed and he snuck a hand down and circled the base tightly, holding himself back.  “Sounds good,” he managed, “but that also won’t last very long at this point.”

                “I don’t want you to last,” Ryan said, kissing Ben’s forehead, then his cheek, then his lips, brief moments of skin on skin that left glowing points of heat lingering on Ben’s face.  “I want to taste you.”

                “Okay,” Ben agreed quickly.  “That’s so okay with me.”

                Ryan grinned cheekily.  “Good.”  Then he lowered himself onto Ben’s body and slid down until his lips were wrapped around Ben’s cock, and Ben promptly traded his higher brain functions for the sheer amazing pleasure of Ryan’s mouth and tongue.

                Ryan was right; he was really good at this.  He didn’t start off slow, just jumped in and took Ben as deeply as he could, almost all the way down to the base, before sliding back up.  He sucked hard along the shaft and rolled his tongue across the head and Ben wanted to watch those gorgeous lips stretched around him, red and plump and way too tempting, but his control was strained to the breaking point as it was.  Ben closed his eyes and focused on breathing, touching Ryan’s head and neck, not even tempted to try to direct his movements because honestly, there was no way Ben could improve on this.

                The pleasure he felt crested higher and higher, and his breathing got heavier, the air thick like syrup in his lungs.  “Ryan…”

                It was meant to be a warning but Ryan took it more like encouragement, wrapping one hand around the base of Ben’s cock and jacking him fast as he swirled his tongue around the head.  Ben’s eyelids squeezed together so tight it hurt and he didn’t even recognize his own voice in those hoarse, throaty sounds as he came, his hips thrusting up uncontrollably.  Everything from the crown of his head to the tips of his toes was taut with way more sensation than his brain could handle, and finally Ben stopped trying to analyze and just let it happen.  Turning his brain off was a challenge at the best of times, but it seemed like Ryan was the cure for that.

                Afterwards his whole body felt warm and relaxed, almost like he was floating in a pool of water.  Ben drowsed for a few moments, only coming back to himself when he felt Ryan move back up his body.  He was hot like a brand, and hard again, and Ben didn’t even have to think about it, he just spread his legs further apart and welcomed Ryan into the cradle of them, hissing a little when their lengths brushed together.  Ben felt oversensitive and exhausted, but he wouldn’t have moved Ryan away for the world.

                Ryan kissed him, nipping at his lower lip.  His hips jerked in tiny little thrusts.  “I need to come again,” he whispered.  “Can I?  Just like this?”

Ben was well and truly spent, there was no way he could get it up again so fast, but he had no problem with Ryan getting off again.  “Yes,” he replied.  “Of course.  Just like this.”  Ben wrapped his legs around Ryan’s hips and urged him on.

It was a little clumsy, rocking together without any set rhythm, lips connecting and then separating as Ryan gasped, but it didn’t need to be perfect to be so, so good.  Ben listened to Ryan’s need build, heard it in every new breath and rolling grind of them together, and he held onto Ryan the way he knew the younger man wanted, tight, possessive, like he’d never let him go.  There was more truth to that than Ben was comfortable confronting, and he shoved it aside in favor of watching Ryan come again.

Ryan looked like he was dying in ecstasy, a painted martyr, beautiful in his agony.  Ryan didn’t hold anything back, free of self-conscious doubt and worry, and Ben loved every second of it.  The wet heat of Ryan’s release splashed onto his stomach and groin, instantly smearing between their bodies, and under normal circumstances that would make Ben cringe, but right now all it felt was good.  Fitting.  Like being marked as taken, in a way.

Ryan finally came back down to earth, his head falling gracelessly against Ben’s shoulder.  “Holy shit,” he mumbled.

“Yeah,” Ben agreed, stroking Ryan’s back.

“Mmmnn…need to…clean up.”

“Yeah, in a minute.”  Ben didn’t want to let go just yet, and he knew Ryan didn’t want to move. Ryan’s entire body was lax and heavy, a burden that Ben didn’t mind bearing for a while.  “In a minute.”

A few minutes later, they were both asleep.


Friday, April 26, 2013

New Release: Legal Briefs Charity Anthology

Hey darlins!

So, this hasn't happened for a while (that is, a new release not associated with episodes of Cambion) but I have one!  It's a story called 24 Hours, part of the anthology Legal Briefs that Storm Moon Press is releasing today.  The theme is the law, and the proceeds from this antho go to benefit Lambda Legal.

Lambda Legal is: a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work. You can find out more about the organization at their website: http://www.lambdalegal.org/

This is my first time participating in a charity anthology, not soloing, and it still leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling:)  The e-book is only $3.99, and if my story isn't enough to tempt you (why?) there are also stories by Blaine D. Arven, Gryvon, Salome Wilde, Kelly Rand and Stella Harris.  Find the antho here: Legal Briefs

In order to facilitate your temptation, have a snippet of my story.  Happy Friday!


24 Hours

Life can change in an instant.  Give it twenty-four hours and it can turn cartwheels around itself. Evan McKay was dizzy from the speed of litigation, dealing with a person who kept a lawyer in his back pocket. 

The conference room that Evan and his own lawyer were shown to in the Sampson & Associates law offices was, in a word, posh.  The table was a long piece of polished cherrywood that should have been at odds with the smooth black leather chairs and bright white walls, but came off as sumptuous instead.  The firm’s secretary showed them in, and moments later an older woman—with platinum blond hair pulled back into a bun, and a crisp navy pantsuit—came in with two cups of rich-smelling coffee, sweeteners, cream and a cool smile.

“Mr. Klempt and his lawyer, Mr. Delour, will be with you shortly,” she said briskly.  “I’m Mr. Delour’s personal assistant, Jeaniene.  Is there anything else I can bring either of you while you wait?”

Evan looked at Jeaniene, registered her calm professionalism and air of competency, and barely kept himself from begging, “Holy shit, help me!”  Sure, she wasn’t a lawyer, but he kind of thought at this point that she might do a better job of representing him than the guy he’d looked up in the phone book at 2 am last night, and who clearly felt out of his depth if the fidgeting was anything to go by.  Karl Price, Evan’s new lawyer, had wanted more time to go over things before any meetings, but one rapid phone conversation with Mr. Delour had left him quivering and conciliatory.  So they were here today, not even a full day after the assault, with no real expectation beyond getting owned by Klempt and his bulldog lawyer, just like that asshole had promised last night when the cops took him away.  Less than twenty-four hours and he was out of jail, just like he’d said.

“No, thank you,” Evan said at last, once it became clear that his lawyer had nothing to say.  He started to reach for a cup of coffee, and then retreated with a wince when it pulled at his bruised collarbone.  The doctor told him it wasn’t broken, but it sure didn’t feel good after having a bottle smashed against it.

“Allow me.”  Jeaniene sized him up for a moment.  “A little raw sugar and plenty of cream, I think.”

“That’s how I like it,” Evan replied, a little surprised.  “How did you know?”

“I’m good at figuring these things out,” she said.  She fixed his coffee, handed over a cup, and then looked at his lawyer.  “Lighten up, Mr. Price.  This isn’t an execution.”

“Um... what?”

Jeaniene and Evan rolled their eyes simultaneously.  She took the tray and its remaining cup of coffee out of the conference room. A moment later Klempt and his lawyer came in.  Evan looked up, his heart pounding, hands clammy despite their grip on the hot coffee cup, and—

Huh.  This wasn’t the same Josiah Klempt that Evan had been smacked around by last night.  That man had been larger than life, loud and florid and extremely drunk. Drunk enough to get angry at the twink he hadn’t been able to pick up at the Park Street Pub, drunk enough to go after him, and powerful enough that when Evan jumped into the fight, before the bouncers could reach them, he’d had no compunctions about swinging an empty beer bottle at Evan instead.  It had missed his head, thankfully, but his shoulder was turning a grotesque shade of purple and his face and neck were scratched from the broken glass.  The bouncers had arrived and pulled them apart, the cops had shown up, and Klempt was taken away. He was shouting the whole time about how he had the best lawyer in Philadelphia on retainer, how he’d be out in no time, how they were nothing, worthless, garbage.  That man had been frightening in his fury.

This man looked shrunken, so cowed he didn’t even raise his head as he and his lawyer sat down across from them.  He was still wearing his white suit from the night before, stained and stinking of stale beer.  His thick dark hair was mussed and the collar of his shirt was wrinkled, as if he’d been twisting it.  He sat a little slumped in his chair, quiet and sullen, and Evan turned his eyes toward the other man.

Donald Delour didn’t look like a bulldog.  Or a shark, or any of those comparisons that people threw around when they talked about danger and tenacity.  Delour was slim, broad shouldered and... well, kind of... pretty.  He had dark blond hair and eyes such a pale blue they were almost transparent, except for a dark ring around the iris.  He wore a slim cut gray suit that fit perfectly, and his tie was the same pale blue as his eyes.  His face was oddly ageless, flawless except for a beauty mark—good grief, a freaking beauty mark— just to the right of his mouth.  He didn’t look like a cutthroat lawyer, but when he spoke, his voice was all business.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Love Has No Boundaries Snippet #2

I know it's not a long snippet, but I have to keep things mostly under wraps for now.  The story sits at about 22 thousand words, and I expect it'll gain another 10, maybe more, before it's due.  Anyway, enjoy the story, guys!


Shawn didn’t look good, even in the low light.  His head was wrapped in bandages, probably all of his thick dark hair shorn away.  Yellow iodine stained the skin at the edge of his forehead, and his chest and arms were festooned with wires leading to different machines, as well as two IVs.  His chest was bare, and he looked cold to me.

I didn’t have much time, I knew it, but I couldn’t resist getting a little closer.  I had held this body in my hands just hours ago; I had cradled his broken head on my shoulder.  I had looked into his eyes, dark and bloody though they were, and had seen someone staring back at me.  Someone strong and vital.

I had no reason to get attached to this man.  I had saved his life, yeah, but he didn’t owe me anything for that.  And what had I saved him for?  A life as a vegetable maybe, unable to move or communicate.  Hell, he might not even make it to the vegetable stage, if that conversation by his asshole of a boyfriend was anything to go by.  Janich knew a lot more about this than he was telling people, and what he knew was nothing good.  Shawn wasn’t safe here, and I wanted him safe.  I wanted to protect him.  He was dragging me back into a world that I’d firmly left behind, and if I had a modicum of sense I would have run in the other direction, but…

If I had any sense, I would never have come back to the hospital.  From that moment on I was committed.  My sense of curiosity had gotten the better of me.  At least, that was the best way I had of explaining it.

“Shawn,” I said gently, laying my bare hand on his chest.  The heartbeat monitor spiked momentarily as I first made contact, then settled again.  I could feel the strong, steady thump-thump against my palm, and smiled.  This kid was tough.  He deserved a chance, the same as I had gotten.  Someone up there, someone with a very ironic sense of humor, had chosen me to be his guardian.  It was already way too late for me to walk away.  It had been from the moment our eyes met.

“Shawn,” I said again, rubbing my thumb gently over his sternum.  “I’m Justin.”  It was one of my favorite aliases, close enough to my real name that I always responded naturally to it.  “Listen up.  You’ve gotta fight through this, okay?  Fight and wake up and get stronger.  This isn’t a good place to be.  When you’re better, I’ll take you somewhere safe.”  Back home with me, of course.  Where else could he go, with no family and a lying fucktard for a lover?  Oddly, I felt no compunction over offering up my sanctuary to this man.  He’d already been in it, after all.  Besides, Della liked him.

“I’ll take you home.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Love Letters Post #14

Notes: Guys, I swear I wanted this to have sexytimes in it, but then I started writing and it got to 3k and it’s time to post and…well.  We’re set up to have a hell of a good time in the next part.  Again, I did not mean to draw this out, but the con is so easy to write, stuff just happens!  Sorry!  I’ll give you an excerpt from my LHNB story a little later to make up for it.


Title: Love Letters


Part Fourteen: Stairs As A Time-Saving Device





The first panel Ben knew Ryan was going to be needed for started at nine, so he’d set the alarm on his watch to go off at seven.  That should give them plenty of time to wake up and get ready for the day, maybe grab some breakfast together too.  Ben was down to his boxers and undershirt in an effort to make his clothes last through today before he had to leave and change, but a shower would definitely help preserve them a little longer.  He remembered the days when he’d gone a week in the same outfit back in college with a faint shudder.

Ryan slept like the dead, completely passed out and not really snoring, but wheezing a little with every inhale.  It shouldn’t have been as endearing as it was, but in the end Ben had stared at him for something like fifteen minutes as he put off falling asleep, conscious of the fact that he was being creepy but not quite able to stop himself.  Eventually he couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer though, and he fell asleep with a couple of feet of space between them, close but comfortable.

When the alarm on his watch started to beep, Ben went to shut it off but realized he couldn’t move his arms.  Further exploration found that his arms were confined in close to his body, and it wasn’t because he was tangled up in the sheets.  Ryan was plastered to his chest, face pressed to Ben’s neck as he slept on, oblivious to the noise and to Ben’s squirming.  Ryan had apparently migrated from his side of the bed to Ben’s, then latched on like a limpet and stayed that way, for how long Ben had no idea but he was hot and sweaty and his collarbone felt suspiciously damp beneath Ryan’s mouth.

“Ryan,” he said, shaking a little bit, but that didn’t seem to work.  If the guy could ignore an alarm beeping less than a foot from his head, he could ignore a little jiggle.  “Ryan,” Ben tried again, louder but also coupled with what he’d wanted to do from the moment he woke up, which was nuzzling his nose into Ryan’s hair.  It was still a little stiff with product on the very top, but soft around the edges.  “Ryan, time to wake up.”

This at least got the beginning of a response, a deep inhale and shift.  Warm, chapped lips pressed a clumsy kiss to Ben’s throat, like it was something Ryan did every day.  Ben shut his eyes for a moment, determined not to think about who Ryan might have done this to every day before now.  “Ryan, you’ve got a panel in a couple of hours.  We should get up.”

“Shh,” Ryan mumbled.  “Sleeping.”

“Not anymore.”

“Beeeenn,” Ryan whined, “why’re you pushy today?  Y’re never pushy at home.  Now shhh.  Sleep.”

At home?  Ben’s own tired mind finally put the pieces together, and he sighed with a guilty sense of relief.  Ryan thought he was dreaming, and apparently when he dreamed Ben featured pretty regularly.  “Baby,” he said, finally scooting down far enough that their faces were on a level.  He kissed the tip of Ryan’s nose, watching with amusement as the younger man made a face.  “Wake up.  Dreams don’t have morning breath.”

“Dreams…wha?”  One bleary blue eye cracked open and took in the scene.  “Ben?”

Ben smiled.  “Hey.”

The other eye opened in a hurry, and Ryan jerked back a little.  “You’re—wait, where am I?”

“Denver.  For MileHiCon.”

“Oh, shit.  Shit, I forgot!”  His arms retreated, leaving Ben feeling a little cold.  “What time is it?”

“Just a little after seven,” Ben said, shutting the alarm off with a sigh of relief.  “How do you feel?”

“God, like hammered crap,” Ryan confessed, pressing one hand to his eyes.  “Wait, did we sleep together?”

“You have a keen sense of observation,” Ben said, swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. 

“And you’re…not naked.”


“So I just imagined that part.”  Ryan seemed somewhere between disappointed and relieved.  “But we did kiss?”  Ben nodded.  “And I…did I fall on the floor?”

“Yes.”  Ben had never seen a blush suffuse someone’s face so fast.  “It’s okay, though.”

“It’s really, totally, utterly not,” Ryan said from behind his hand.  “I was supposed to be smooth.  I had this all planned out.”  He made a faint moaning sound of embarrassment.

Sleepy, hung over and embarrassed was not the way to start the day.  Ben could help with that, though.  He crawled back onto the bed and over to Ryan and pulled him back into his arms.  Ryan went without hesitation, sliding his own arms tentatively around Ben’s waist.  “It was sweet,” Ben told him.  “I don’t need you to be smooth, just honest.”  He couldn’t stop his grin.  “And at least you had the balls to get things going, even if it took you getting drunk.”

“Shit, shit, shit.”  Ryan lifted sleep-crusted eyes and looked at Ben.  “Being drunk has nothing to do with me wanting to kiss you, you know that, right?  I wanted to before that.  For a long time, actually.”

“I know,” Ben replied.  “We can talk about it later, though.  First I have a question for you.”

“Oookay.”  Ryan looked apprehensive.

“What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Because I’m going to order while you’re in the shower.”

“Oh.  French toast.  With bacon.”

“Sounds delicious.”

Ryan relaxed a little, still red but managing it.  “So I take it that you don’t want to shower with me, then.”

That wasn’t true at all, but… “Not this time.”

“Then you should at least kiss me again,” Ryan said, shifting so that he was straddling Ben’s lap instead of sitting beside it.  “So I have something to tide me over.”  He threaded his fingers together behind Ben’s neck and smiled winsomely.

Ben was nowhere near strong enough to resist that smile.  He tilted his face up and leaned in, and their mouths met in the middle.  It wasn’t the sweet, brand-new kiss of last night, and it didn’t become a deeper, more passionate kiss thanks to both of them wanting to keep their morning breath to themselves.  It was a gentle, thoughtful kiss, the kind of kiss that could have left you cold if you weren’t into it.  Instead Ben felt his heart rate increase, felt warmth flush through his face and hands and felt himself stir down below, all in the three or four seconds that their lips were actually touching.

Ryan finally pulled back and sighed.  “Can’t I just skip the panels?  Really, my life would be so much better just laying here in bed with you.”

“I wish I could be your bad influence, but I want to hear what you have to say, so no,” Ben told him.  “Besides, if I don’t go watch Battlestar Galactica with one of the people I met yesterday, she might actually kill me.  She said something about shooting people in order to be more realistic.”

“She’s a cosplayer?”

“Very much so.”

“Huh.”  Ryan tilted his head thoughtfully.  “Do you think she’d be up for dressing like Maria Hill for us?  Because then we’d really be rocking the Avengers.”

“I doubt it.”  Ben didn’t want to shift Ryan but he had to; his bladder was crying out for relief.  “I’ll be fast,” he promised as he stood up.

“Take your time, because I’ll be the exact opposite of fast,” Ryan said, lying back on the bed.

That turned out to be an understatement.  By the time Ryan was done showering, shaving and dressing it was 8:30, breakfast was getting cold and they had to rush to eat and get downstairs in time.  It didn’t help their efficiency that they couldn’t keep their hands off of each other, but Ryan looked so fucking happy and a little incredulous, like he couldn’t believe that Ben wasn’t pushing him away or throwing him off. 

                Ryan grabbed Ben’s scarf and wrapped it around his neck before they left the room.  “Are you planning on going out into the cold?” Ben asked as they headed for the elevator.

                “It smells like you,” Ryan replied.  “I like it.”

                “Oh.”  There wasn’t much Ben could say about that, so he tugged Ryan closer with the end of the scarf and kissed him again.  It was uncharacteristically public for Ben, with regards to sharing affection, but he had the feeling PDAs were something he’d be getting used to with Ryan.

                The first panel was moderately interesting.  Most of it was dragons, dragons, dragons and variations on “Mr. Paolini, you are brilliant, I want to have your baby.”  Which, well, Ben could appreciate the sentiment but he hadn’t read the books, which Ryan had informed him was a crime.  Some of the questions went to Ryan, though, and those were infinitely more interesting, especially the specific ones, not just, “Where do you get your ideas?” but “What do those ideas mean?”

                At one point a woman asked, “Are we ever going to meet the Phantom?  I mean, by Volume Three we pretty much know that the Phantom is more than just something Janie could be making up, so I wonder if you plan on introducing us to him or her.  Or it, I guess.”

                Ryan cupped the side of his face with one hand and grinned, and half of the audience let out a not-so-subtle sigh.  “I’ve definitely got plans for the Phantom.  I’m not entirely sure what they are yet, but at some point the two of them are going to meet up.”

                The next person the moderator called on asked, “Do you base your characters on people you know in real life?”

                “Some of them.  Anybody who follows me on Twitter or Tumblr knows that Janie is based loosely on me.  As for the other characters, actually,” Ryan’s face took on a mischievous expression before he continued, “the person I used as my model for the Phantom is here too.”

                That started up an immediate buzz, and the people who’d plied them with drinks last night scanned the room until they caught sight of Ben, at which point the speculation became much more specific.

                The panel ended after an hour and Ben tagged along to the next one as well, this time on agents (and oh, he could say so much, so, so much) but then they split up after that, because Ryan was doing lunch with a group that had paid extra to get his in-person opinion on their graphic novel/comic book ideas, and that was going to take hours.  Ben went and watched a group of harried adults organize a jousting tournament for the kids instead, complete with foam lances and bulky horse-costumes they had to wear around their hips.

                After an hour or so he got bored and went to find Michael, but Michael’s assistant said he was in the middle of an emergency meeting with the con organizers.  Ben went to the dining room instead, and that was where Starbuck found him.

                “Duckling!” she called out, waving him over to her table.  “C’mere!”  She was sitting alone, an iPad set up up on the table in front of her, her booted feet propped up on the booth across from her.  She had a plate with the remains of a club sandwich on it and was still picking at her French fries.  She scooted and made room for Ben on her side.

                “You’re still coming to the screening room at three, right?” she asked as he sat down.


                Starbuck looked at him eagerly.  “Yeah?  Are you doing anything until then?”

                “I don’t have any plans,” Ben assured her.

                “Great!  ‘Cause it’s only noon, so we’ve got time to watch the Battlestar Galactica miniseries before we go see episode one, if you want.  They follow each other immediately and you really should see the miniseries before diving into the first season, so you have some idea of what the hell is going on.”

                Starbuck looked so excited that Ben couldn’t say no.  “Sounds good.”  At least it gave him something to do and might even take his mind off of Ryan for a while.  Pining, Ben knew, wasn’t a good look on anyone.

                “Great, here, let me just—” She pulled the iPad forward and tapped the screen a few times, frowning.  “I have to figure out how to get to it.  I haven’t had this thing for long.  She told me it would be better than my laptop for movies, but—wait, here it is.”

                “She?” Ben asked as Starbuck adjusted the volume.  A waiter stopped by and Ben ordered a burger and a beer, and waited to see if Starbuck would respond to his question.  He wasn’t the type to push, but—

                “My girlfriend Sarah,” she said after a minute, frowning and leaning back against the seat.  “This was hers, but she left last month for fuckin’ Africa, thought taking this along was a stupid idea.  So she gave it to me.”

                “What’s she doing in Africa?”
                “Saving the world,” Starbuck said sarcastically.  “Literally, she joined the Peace Corps.  Its’ part of her Master’s in Public Health, or at least she gets school credit for her service or something like that.  She gave me a bunch of stuff when she left, but this is the only thing I really use.”  She looked over at Ben.  “Ready to start?”


                So, okay.  There may have been a previously-undiscovered level of geek in Ben, because as transparent as some of the plot was and as cumbersome as some of the writing was, he loved the miniseries.  They barely had time to finish it before they had to run to the screening room, and Starbuck kept asking, “You understand this part, right?  Did you get this part?”  And Ben was a lot of things but unobservant wasn’t really one of them, so he told her that yeah, he got it all and could they please just watch the show?

                They, along with about seventy other people, did.  Some of the viewers were clearly old hands with Battlestar Galactica, and they joined in on particular lines.  Even Starbuck did, especially whenever the character she emulated took the screen.

                By the end of it all the humans were exhausted, the potentially rogue ship was destroyed, a baby was born and Ben was hooked.  Starbuck looked smug.

                “Another one brought into the fold.”  She tapped the bag with her iPad in it.  “I’ve got more episodes if you’re interested.”

                “I am,” Ben said, “but there’s another panel I wanted to listen in on.”

                Starbuck rolled her eyes.  “You want to go watch your boyfriend work his magic, you mean.  Jesus, he is like terminally cute.  How do you deal with it when he asks for something you don’t want to give him?”

                “That hasn’t happened yet,” Ben replied honestly.  “I’ll catch up with you later, okay?”

                “You better, man, I’ve still got all your swag, and the includes the drink tickets for the banquet tonight.”

                “I’ll find you before then,” Ben promised as he got up.

                “I’ll understand if you don’t, I suppose,” Starbuck said with a shrug.

                The next discussion was, nominally, supposed to be about “The Big Picture: Plotting and Themes in Fiction,” but it turned from a discussion of the craft into a bunch of opinions pretty quickly.  One of the questioners, when called upon, said to Ryan, “Personally, the Phantom is my least favorite character in your whole series.  I think he detracts from the themes of self-reliance and independence, and frankly all I want to know is when you’re going to get rid of him, because if you don’t I might have to stop reading your work.”

                There were plenty of people who took offense, but Ryan grabbed the microphone and started speaking before any of them could gain traction.  “You’re not the first person I’ve heard that from,” he began, clearly making an effort to be polite.  “But here’s the thing.  I write what I like.  If I tried to write what I thought other people would like, then I’d fail.  I can’t make everyone enjoy what I put out there and I have no doubt that there are plenty of people who started reading and then stopped because they didn’t like the way things were going, and that’s fine. 

“But I won’t be threatened into changing what I write by anyone, except maybe my publisher since she’s got to make money too.  That way lies the death of creativity.  So if you stop reading, well, I’m sorry to lose you but I won’t change things to suit you or any other person who has issues with the way I do things.”

                People began clapping  as soon as Ryan stopped speaking, and the applause picked up until it was almost deafening.  Ryan took a little bow and grinned, and Ben wanted to run over to him, throw him down on his back on the table and ravish—god, ravish, what a terrible word but it was true, was the hell of it—him until he couldn’t even move.  Ryan must have seen some of that in his face, because he swallowed hard and blushed even harder.

                As soon as the panel ended Ryan was mobbed by people, mostly anxious to agree with him from the looks of things, or reassure him that they would definitely still buy his books because they loved the Phantom.  Ben stood back and waited for the crowd to thin before getting in close.  Ryan grabbed his hand instantly.  “Hi.”

                “Hi.”  Ben rubbed his thumb over the sensitive skin of Ryan’s wrist.  “Are you done for a while?”

                “This was my last panel for the day, there’s just the banquet tonight…”  Ben watched Ryan’s pupils expand as he caught on to what Ben was suggesting.  “Um…do you want to go upstairs?”

                “If you don’t have anything else to do,” Ben said lightly, then winced as Ryan’s grip became almost crushing for a moment.

                “I don’t, definitely not,” Ryan said, then glanced around.  “Let’s go before someone else comes along who wants to tell me everything that’s wrong with my books.”

                “I’m more concerned with the people who adore everything you do and want to talk to you about it for hours and hours and hours, honestly.”

                Ryan leaned in close.  “If we take the stairs I bet we can avoid everyone.”  He had a point; while the elevators were always packed, the stairwells were usually abandoned.

                Ben moved until his lips brushed the shell of Ryan’s ear.  “Good idea.”

                They took the stairs up in probably record time.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love Letters #13


Notes: We have made contact!  Frustratingly brief contactJ  The next one will be more explicit, I promise.  Quickly in other news: I got a new computer, thank God, and the 3rd episode of Cambion is out and available at Storm Moon Press here: Cambion. There’s an extra story this time around for people who bought the season pass, so enjoy, darlins!  Now on to our boys.


Title: Love Letters


Part Thirteen: Patience As A Virtue Is A Bitch





The rest of the evening was something of a blur to Ben, at least the public parts of it.  Despite what they both wanted Ben and Ryan had to separate eventually, Ryan because he was being pulled at by one of the organizers to get ready for the opening ceremony and Ben because he had to let Ryan be pulled away.  It felt almost painful to watch Ryan vanish into the crowd after Ben had just had him in his arms, and he swore quietly under his breath at the realization of what that meant.  You didn’t get that kind of pang in your chest for acquaintances or casual friends. 

Ben wanted his best friend’s younger brother.  His dead best friend’s younger brother.  He wanted him so badly he could barely think straight.  Seeing Ryan in person again, after all the time they’d spent talking, getting to know each other—it was the fatal blow to his delusion of “just friends.”  The last bastion of Ben’s self-restraint was crumbling away into the storm of his desire, and he knew—he knew—that Ryan would let him in.  He just didn’t know why, and that was a problem.

It was at times like this that Ben wished he smoked, so he could have an excuse to go outside and stand in the cold without looking like a complete idiot.  He could have faked it with his cellphone, but that move was a little juvenile even for him.  Ben was on the verge of not caring about looking juvenile just for the chance to get some air, though, when Michael found him.  He walked up to Ben and spun around in a slow circle, looking pleased.

Ben looked at him and blinked.  “You’re dressed up.”

“Well naturally, darling, have you seen this place?” Michael demanded.  “I’d be like a fish out of water if I hadn’t.  Besides, the hotel doesn’t have any other events going on right now, so I can afford to put all my efforts toward this one.”

“You look good.”  He really did, too, the long coat and eye patch giving him an attractively rakish appearance.  Michael grinned.

“People think I’m the secret love child of Nick Fury and Margaret Carter as soon as I open my mouth, it’s brilliant.  If I were more into this scene I’d absolutely be bringing some lucky person to bed with me tonight.”

“Who’s Margaret Carter?”

“Never mind.”  Michael peered at him.  “You look a little green around the gills, although that may just be the scarf.  Do you need me to find you another nice, deserted hallway to have a private freak out in?”

“Yes,” Ben said immediately.

“No, wait, I’ll do you one better.  Here.”  Michael pulled a key card out of his pocket.  “This will get you into your friend’s top-floor suite, we reserved several for the guests of honor.  Patricia should have gotten the primary to him, but I figured you’d appreciate having a copy for yourself.”

“I’m not staying with him, Michael.”

Michael narrowed his eyes a little.  “Why ever not?  Are you still working through the guilt complex having to do with him being your friend’s brother?  Because darling, some of the best relationships I know of began with that kind of connection; it’s not a betrayal.”

“It’s more…”  Ben didn’t really want to muddle through this out loud, but Michael was here and offering, and Ben was cognizant enough to realize that he might need help sorting out his mind on this one.  “It’s more that I don’t really know why Ryan wants me.  I used to send letters to his brother, and Ryan found them and read them and built me up into something that I’m really not, someone a lot better than I actually am.  We’ve been talking ever since the funeral, getting to know each other, but how can that be enough?”  How could that justify the connection that Ben felt between the two of them?  It didn’t seem reasonable.  “I’ve met him exactly once before tonight.  I barely even knew he existed before a month ago.  And he’s young and enthusiastic and artistic, and I’m…a historian.”

“Right, stop right there,” Michael said firmly, holding up one hand.  “Two things, darling, and I’m not going to harp on them because I know how you hate the harp, but I want you to really pay attention to me because this is important for life in general and not just for this particular instance of it.  First thing: you can’t control every circumstance, but that’s no reason to doubt what those circumstances might bring you.  Yes, you’ve gotten to know Ryan in a rather irrational way, but that doesn’t make it any less valid than if you met him at a bar and took him home.  Actually, it makes it more valid, because you don’t tend to value people you meet in bars as much as you might.  Don’t look at me like that,” Michael chided when Ben glared at him, “I know you, remember?  And you know I’m right.

“Second thing, and I can’t for the life of me fathom why this impression exists within you and how it came to be, but you are not just some dusty old historian living your life out in a library.  You’re a New York Times bestselling historian-cum-author, you’ve been on the radio and the telly, and you’re handsome and rather fascinating.  When you wear the right clothes,” Michael allowed, plucking at Ben’s cuffs.  “And you’re not old, Jesus, darling, let’s stop with those insinuations right now.  You’re a year younger than me and I certainly don’t consider myself old by any means.  So the boy you want is young and beautiful and free, so what?  You’re quite a catch.  Don’t downplay his probably very genuine interest by giving it another name.  There now.  Don’t you feel silly?”

Ben shook his head.  “You are unbelievable,” he said, but he was smiling now. 

“That’s code for I was right and you’re a bit abashed, but don’t be afraid to be wrong, darling, let it out,” Michael said smugly.  “It’s perfectly all right to acknowledge my enormous depth of knowledge, my outstanding breadth of insight, over the length of our long friendship…”

“Can you deviate from penis references for more than a minute at a time?”

“I don’t like to deviate from penises, darling; I’ve never swung any way but one.  And besides, you enjoy a bit of innuendo if I recall.  Now.”  Michael glanced down at his expensive watch.  “Are you watching the whole opening ceremony bit?  If so, you really need to get your pretty arse moving, because they’ll be starting things up shortly.”

“Someone’s saving me a place,” Ben said, but he headed toward the ballroom anyway, tucking the key card into his back pocket.

He didn’t see Starbuck in the sea of people, but she saw him.  “Hey, Duckling!” she called out, standing up and gesturing with her cigar.  Ben worked his way through the crowd to her, taking the seat she’d saved on the very outside of the first row. 

“Thanks,” Ben told her.

“Yeah, no problem.  Man, this place is a fucking zoo,” she said, pulling her feet back so another person—this one in a golden dragon costume—could get by.  “It wasn’t nearly this crowded last year.  It’s the fantasy people, I’m telling you.”

“Oh, undoubtedly.”

“There you go, man, fake it til you make it.”  Starbuck clapped him on the shoulder. 

The opening ceremony was as dramatic and crazy as all the rest of the evening combined.  Various authors, artists and minor celebrities were introduced, all of them greeted by raucous applause.  Christopher Paolini got the standing ovation, but there were plenty of people there clutching copies of Janie and the Phantom and yelling happily when Ryan—or RJ to his fans, apparently—was introduced.  He got up from his chair and waved back at the crowd, grinning wide and beautiful.  He winked in Ben’s direction before sitting down again, prompting whispers from the people in their section and an eye-roll from Starbuck.

“Family friend my ass,” she said.  “Why didn’t you just tell me he’s your boyfriend?”

“Because he isn’t.”

“Bullshit.”  Ben expected her to keep at it but she looked down at the con schedule instead.  “Damn, he’s going to be running from panel to panel all day tomorrow.  Are you going to be his duckling for the rest of the con?  Because I sweet talked the organizers into showing the pilot for Battlestar Galactica in the screening room at 3, when your guy’s going to be talking about…” She checked the schedule.  “’Small Presses vs The Big Six: Which Is Right For You?’”  She snorted out a laugh.  “Whichever will have your desperate ass, I bet.  But you’re not a writer, are you?”

“Not this kind of writer,” Ben said, and before she could ask continued, “I’ll come to the screening room with you, sure.”

“Good.  It’s gonna blow your mind, man.”  They refocused on the front, where Ben mostly ignored the next forty-five minutes unless Ryan was talking.

Eventually it ended, and then there was a choice of the Avistrum Academy or an “adult mixer” where people had the chance to mob their favorites in a more casual way before the con really got going.  Starbuck vanished into the crowd after agreeing to meet Ben tomorrow morning for coffee before the “Pulling Fantasy From the Real World: On Finding the Muse in Everything” panel at nine, which Ryan would be participating in.

It took a while for Ben to work his way to Ryan’s side at a table near the bar, where every chair was full and more people were standing around the periphery of it, asking questions and looking incredibly interested.  There was a specific time set aside for authors to sign copies of their books on Sunday, but some eager fans were pushing their copy of Janie and the Phantom and pens at Ryan, who took the copies but declined the pens, signing with his own sparkling purple marker instead.

“Ben!”  All action stopped when Ryan saw Ben, and he scooted his chair to the side and gently pushed back a woman who tried to scoot in.  “Sorry, I need this space for my friend,” he told her.  “Ben, grab a chair from somewhere.”  A few minutes and some polite wrangling later, and Ben was ensconced by Ryan’s side, close enough to touch.  In fact, Ryan had one hand on his drink and the other on Ben’s arm, and he kept looking over at him during his conversations with other people and smiling anew every time.

Ben sat and watched and listened, enjoying the simple pleasure of being with Ryan in his element and the soft pressure of his hand.  He listened to Ryan answer questions about the parallels between his work and the Odyssey, which migrated into a discussion of Neal Gaiman’s early graphic novels and transformed into sharing opinions on modern interpretations of classic fairytales.  Ryan kept drinking too, his fans more than happy to keep him supplied.  It didn’t bother Ben, but he was careful to keep his own consumption down.  Either of them being drunk was going to put a hold on anything they might have done tonight, and it would be easier to take care of Ryan if he was sober.

They finally broke free at midnight, and Ben walked with Ryan to the elevator and rode all the way to the top floor, one arm around Ryan’s waist to help keep him steady.

“I think I drank too much,” Ryan said, frowning cutely as Ben helped him down the hall and opened the door with his key card.  “How…where…did you get that?  Did you pick my pocket?”  He patted his own ass searchingly.  “Do I have pockets?”

“One of the managers gave it to me,” Ben told him, walking them into the suite.  It was a large bedroom with an attached living room and oversized bath, and Ryan’s eyes goggled as he looked around.

“Hey, there’s my stuff!”  He turned and looked at Ben.  “Did you bring my stuff up here too?”

“No, that was probably one of the staff.”  Ben set Ryan down on the edge of the bed and turned away to shut the door.  When he came back Ryan grabbed for his hand.  He missed, but Ben took it anyway. 

“I didn’t mean to get drink…drunk,” Ryan said mournfully.  “I was nervous.  This is my first con, and just my second you ever, and I didn’t want to be nervous.”

“It’s okay,” Ben said.  “I understand.”

“No, it’s not okay, because…because I have a question for you.”

Ryan looked very serious, so Ben made sure he didn’t let his amusement show when he looked back at the younger man.  “Ask me,” he said gently.

“Will you kiss me?”  He immediately shook his head.  “I mean, do you want to kiss me?”

Fuck yes, was the first thing that came to Ben’s mind.  He’s completely drunk was the second, and before Ben could think of how to qualify his answer, Ryan started to pull back, his hopeful expression falling away into misery.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I did it all wrong—”

That Ryan could even be thinking that was what was really wrong, and so Ben leaned in and pressed their lips together before Ryan could finish that sentence.  It was an awkward angle, noses bumping and necks straining a little, and Ryan tasted like beer and whiskey.  It was still probably the most incredible first kiss Ben had ever experienced. 

Ryan’s mouth shivered under his, his breath caught in his throat for a moment before gusting out with a moan.  He twisted on the edge of the bed and deepened the kiss and Ben let him, opening up when Ryan’s tongue pressed against his lips.  The kiss turned a little sloppy, a little desperate, but it was still perfect.  Ben thought at that moment that probably everything Ryan did was perfect.

Until Ryan tried to climb into his lap and slid off onto the floor instead, and Ben was rapidly reminded of why this wasn’t going to happen right now.

Ryan gaped up at Ben from flat on his back, his pouty lips glistening, eyes wide.  “You kissed me.”

“I did.  I wanted to,” Ben told him, then put his face in his hands and wiped at his eyes briefly, chuckling.  “And I want to do it again, but not tonight.”

“No, now!”  Ryan tried to sit up but ended up flopping back onto the ground.  “Shit.  I’m too drunk.”

“Exactly.”  Ben leaned over and grabbed Ryan’s wrists, then helped pull him up to standing.  Ryan instantly leaned against him and went for another kiss, but Ben evaded him.  “Not tonight, baby.  Tonight you go right to bed, because you’ve got an early morning tomorrow and you’re going to hate yourself if you don’t get to sleep soon.”

“I won’t,” Ryan promised, but he didn’t fight Ben when he laid him back on the bed, pulling the comforter out of the way.  “Are you taking off my shoes?”

“Yep.”  Ben finished untying the sneakers and put them on the floor by the bed. 

“Are you going to take off my pants?”

“I guess I might as well while I’m here,” Ben teased, reaching up and undoing Ryan’s belt.  His fingers brushed the bare skin of Ryan’s stomach and Ben swallowed hard, and had to sternly tell himself that he wasn’t here to feel up Ryan, not right now.  He got the belt undone and pulled Ryan’s pants down his legs, with a little fumbling help from Ryan. 

“What else will you take off?” Ryan asked softly.

“Nothing tonight.  You need to sleep.”

“But you’re still dressed.  It’s…tragedy.  I mean tragic.”  Ryan reached out and ran a hand down the closest part of Ben he could reach, his head.  “Your hair is so soft.”

“Thank you.”

“I really—like it.”  Ryan’s declaration was broken up in the middle by a yawn.

Ben smiled at him.  “I really like you.  Go to sleep, Ryan.”

“You should stay.  If you can, I mean.  Please.”

“Sure.”  It was way too late for Ben to consider going home, and he didn’t really want to leave Ryan anyway. 

“Are you sure you won’t kiss me again?”

Ben leaned in and pressed a kiss to Ryan’s forehead.  Just being able to touch him was amazingly satisfying, enough that he could ignore the fact that his body was definitely more on board with this than his mind at present. 

“How’s that?” he asked Ryan.

Ryan smiled sweetly.  “Nice.  Do it again?”

“If you’re still awake once I get out of the bathroom, I’ll do it again.”  Ben pushed off the bed, left his shoes by the door and went into the bathroom to clean up.  By the time he got back out, Ryan was asleep on his side, one arm hanging over the edge of the bed.

Ben lay down on the other side of the bed, close enough to feel the warmth of Ryan’s body.  “Maybe tomorrow, baby.”