Friday, June 28, 2013

What comes after good? F*cking Awesome! *ps, download available*



**Before we get started, let me just update and throw this in: You Get Full Credit For Being Alive is now available as a download here:  http://www.mmromancegroup.com/?p=20924.  For those of you who aren't group members but still want the the story:) **

This week...this week, people!  I'm having one of those weeks where it's just exciting to be alive, for almost no other reason than the fact that I am, in fact, alive.  Redundant, yeah, but still fun!  Why is it going from good to better?  Few things:

One, my staycation has just started.  I have the next week at large, and since we're not harking off to take care of familial duty this time, we can just stay here and relax and do fun things in Denver and Boulder that we tend to forget exist because of living here.  The zoo, museums, amusement park, water park if I can find a way to protect my vampire-like pallor, hiking, copious amounts if jiu jitsu...good times!

Two, I'm going to have the time to finish some writing projects, improve some others and figure out what the hell I'm even doing on the last couple.  So that's good.  I'm more than ready to turn my attention to creative endeavors, after spending what feels like half of forever updating my paperwork.

Three, holy shit, guys!  The reception for my LHNB story You Get Full Credit For Being Alive has been amazing.  A lot of people like it, a lot of them left reviews--thank you for that, by the way, if you're one of those reviewers.  I feel humbled, seriously.  It's more than I ever anticipated, and I'm so glad that so many of you have enjoyed it and are possibly even affected by it.  Thank you again.  I'm working on making a download available to everyone, I need to figure out a cover and a place to post it.

Lastly, I have the best.  Betas.  Ever!  They know my style, they read my stuff, they made it better and they even catch mistakes the editors missed in the LHNB story (yeah, there is one, no I'm not pointing it out...just let it go, darlins).

So, yeah.  Happy.  Next week is going to be awesome.  C'mon, karma, back me up here!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Deleted Scene and LHNB Story


 

Notes: So, I wrote this whole thing out, and then I realized that, as a scene, it was pretty much unnecessary.  One of the perils of writing a serial story is that it has the tendency to get away from me: some parts become elongated while others are truncated, and the Boston storyline has definitely been drawn out beyond where I originally envisioned it.  I just like having the two of them together so much…

Anyway, consider this part a deleted scene.  If I ever put this whole thing together as a real book, this part probably wouldn’t make the final cut, as it doesn’t really propel the story forward.  But fuck it, it was still fun to write.

Also, if you’re looking for something a little more substantial today, have I got the story for you!  My Love Has No Boundaries story, You Get Full Credit For Being Alive, is available as of this morning on the Goodreads M/M group’s page! You can find it here.  It’s over a hundred pages of I-Swear-I’m-A-Retired-Assassin Justin, the Cop-Who-Lived Shawn, Della the Dog and Margot, She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Fucked-With.  All of it free.  Please go, read, leave a comment and tell me what you think.  It isn’t available for download yet (I still have to get a cover made, Storm Moon Press is too busy to help me out this year) but will be soon.  I was so pleased to get the prompt, and happy to offer up more free content to readers.  Thanks for your support, guys.
Moving on...

Title: Love Letters

 

Deleted Scene:  Trivia Night

 

***

 

                The rest of his stay in Boston was mixed, as far as Ben was concerned. Now that Ryan was aware of how little Ben liked the crowds and the commotion, he went out of his way finding ways for them to avoid it, even when his roommates asked.  That, in turn, made them uncomfortable, and so nobody got to be very happy for a while. 

                “Not even for Friday Night Trivia?” Lennie cajoled, her callused sculptor’s hands clasped together as though she was a little angel.  “Come on, trivia at the bar is fun!  How are we going to win if you aren’t there to help us?”

                “We never win,” Ryan pointed out, but Ben could see he was weakening. 

                “Tonight could be the first time!  Especially if Ben comes.”  She turned to look at Ben.  “It’s totally fine, we’ll get our own table and you can be as nonverbal as you want unless you know the answer to something.”  The edge of her smile was just a bit hard; she and Ryan had had a discussion about Ben that had ended with Lennie feeling put upon, and she was letting him know that now in a cheerful, passive-aggressive way.

“Knock it off,” Ryan warned her.  “Ben doesn’t have to do anything.  But maybe I could come with you for a while…”  His voice trailed off, clearly torn.

                “I’ll go with you.”  Ben felt a little guilty for waiting for so long to say it, but honestly, and it hurt him to think this, he was never going to be great friends with Lennie or Grant.  She was too bright and loud, he was too taciturn and laissez-faire.  Ben was warming up to Jasmine, and he thought the feeling was mutual, but it was too early to say whether or not they’d ever be more than acquaintances brought together by Ryan’s proximity.  “Although I warn you, if it’s not history or literature I’m terrible at trivia.”

                “Sometimes they ask history questions!” Lennie said with a grin, her moment of pique forgotten in the happiness of winning.  “Come on, we need to go if we’re going to be there on time.”  She turned and jumped on Grant’s back, wrapping her legs around his waist.  “Onward, my trusty steed!”  Grant rolled his eyes but obligingly cantered out the door.

                “Thanks,” Ryan said softly, kissing the edge of Ben’s mouth.  “I’ll go grab our jackets and the gear.”  He disappeared into the bedroom and Jasmine came over to Ben’s side, shaking out her braids.

                “Nice of you,” she commented.

                “Despite what you might think, I’m actually not trying to be a bastard,” Ben said dryly.

                “Yeah, I know.  Lennie can be a little much even for me, and I’ve known her for years.”  Jasmine slipped on a pair of heels that put her at Ben’s height just as Ryan came back out with their jackets.  “Trivia night is a weekly ritual for us, it’s nice of you to play along.”

                “Yes it is,” Ryan agreed, holding out Ben’s jacket and then taking his arm once he had it on.  Ben had never thought he’d get used to someone taking his arm, as though he were a gentleman from Victorian England, but Ben did it without thinking.  Jasmine grabbed onto his other arm, her hold identical, and the pair of them smiled twin smiles.  It was a little intimidating, honestly.

                “We can explain the other rituals on the way there,” Jasmine said as they walked down the stairs.

                “What other rituals?”

                Apparently there were a lot of them.  The canvas bag of “gear,” for one thing.  Regular teams at Cityside Bar’s trivia night all had names and themes, and Ryan’s team, being full of artists, was called the Artful Dodgers. As soon as they sat down, Ryan handed everyone a slender paintbrush, which they stuck behind their ears or in their hair.  Ben let Ryan playfully tuck one behind his own ear, delivered with a kiss before he went after a set of colored pencils.

Among the other established teams was a group of engineers, mostly older men and women, who called themselves the Mighty Pocket Protectors, complete with actual pocket protectors on display.  A band of science fiction lovers went by Team Trafalmadore, and each one of them had an eye drawn in the center of one of their hands.  There were a group of young women in business suits who called themselves Team Binder Full of Women, and a group of young men were the Wet Dream Catchers.  Those two teams in particular seemed to like annoying each other, shouting insults back and forth across the floor as the crusty old guy in charge of it all handed out answer sheets and pencils and yelled for people to “Put your fuckin’ phones away, goddammit, if I catch anyone on your team googlin’ the goddamn answer I’m gonna throw your whole fuckin’ team out!”

“Mark’s serious,” Lennie told them as she brought back a tray full of beers (there were perks to being a bartender at this place the rest of the time).  “He banned the Protectors from trivia for a month when one of them tried to play off the Google Glasses he was betaing as bifocals.  And the Vulcans still haven’t been let back in since Mark caught them hiding Bluetooth earpieces under their prosthetics.”

“Really?”

“Really.”  Lennie launched into a story about how the Vulcans had been found out after they’d answered a question that really, none of them should have known.  “I mean, Cossacks?  They’re all, like, Communications majors, how would they know about marauding Russian cavalrymen?”  Ben sat and listened and drank his beer, and wondered how soon it would be over.

Eventually the game began.  The categories, as far as Ben could tell, were across-the-board random.  They started with Americana, and had five minutes to answer five questions: what was the first state of the union, what was the last state to enter the union, what was the number of signatures on the Declaration of Independence, what was the nineteenth Constitutional amendment, and who was the fifth person in line to be president?

Everyone at the table looked hopefully at Ben.  “You got this, right?” Grant asked.

“Uh…yeah.”  Ben reached for the pencil and Ryan passed him an answer sheet.  It had a green dragon drawn in the corner. 

“I get itchy fingers,” Ryan explained with a smile.  “So…answers?”

“Right.”  Ben tapped the pencil to his lower lip, then wrote, Delaware, Hawaii, 56, women get the right to vote, the Secretary of State.  He sat back and handed the paper around.

“Oh, seriously?  I should have known the amendment one,” Jasmine muttered.  “I did know number two, though.”

“I didn’t know any of these,” Lennie said happily.  “This is awesome!  We’re going to kill it tonight!”

It was nice to feel needed, Ben admitted.  It wasn’t quite so nice for their table to be called out for “blatant cheating” as the answers were tallied, however.

“Lennie, what the fuck is your group playing at?” Mark yelled across the room.  All eyes fell on them.  “You’re artists, not historians!”

“Ryan’s boyfriend is on our team tonight, he’s a historian!” Lennie crowed triumphantly, pointing at Ben.  He kind of wanted to sink into the booth.

“Historian, huh?”  Mark squinted at Ben.  “Professor?”

“I’m a writer, actually.”

“You write anything good?”

Ben shrugged a little.  “Uh…Liberty or Death.”

The man’s eyes widened.  “Really?  DeWitt then, are you?”  Ben nodded.  “Great book.  We’ve got ourselves a genuine celebrity here tonight, you fucks, let’s try not to scare him off.”

And now everyone was staring at their table.  Lennie was laughing and Ryan was giggling and Grant looked as imperturbable as ever, and only Jasmine had the sense to push Ben’s beer a little closer and say, “Just ignore it, honey.”

The Artful Dodgers did better at trivia than they usually did that night.  Not well enough to win: Boston was a town that knew its sports, and their group fell down on the exotic car logo round as well.  Really, who had ever heard of a SEAT before?  Who even knew that the Spanish made cars?  But they cleaned up in pop culture references, literature (just the first lines of the books were given, and they had to name the title and the author) and, unsurprisingly, mixed drinks.  Only the Pocket Protectors beat them in the end, and Team Binders Full of Women were close behind.

Better yet, it was actually fun.  Ben had expected to bear it for Ryan’s sake, to be as gracious as he could while fervently wishing he was somewhere—anywhere—else.  But once he got over being annoyed, once he let go a bit, he was surprised to find that he actually enjoyed it.  The second place prize didn’t hurt either.

“Cityside shot glasses!”  Lennie grabbed them from behind the bar and passed them around.  “And they come with some complimentary Jameson, yummy.”  They threw their drinks back simultaneously, and the liquor was smooth and warm as it slid down Ben’s throat.  Ryan was snuggled up against his side, looking beyond pleased, and that coupled with the satisfaction of doing well was enough to wash away the last of Ben’s reserve.

“Let’s have another round,” Ben said to Lennie.  “On me, if you’ll go get it.”

“Done!” Lennie announced, going back to grab the bottle.

“I like you when you’re drunk,” Grant observed.

“I like you all the time,” Ryan said softly in Ben’s ear.

“I like you when you buy me drinks,” Jasmine chimed in.  Lennie came back and refilled the glasses, and Jasmine captured Ben’s eyes.  “Cheers.”

“Cheers.”
 
 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Man Of Steel



I know, this came out last week, why aren't I watching World War Z?  But I didn't write anything about it, and I usually do when I go to the movies.  It just took me a while to remember in this case, and that just about sums up my feelings regarding the new Superman movie.

Here's the thing: I've never followed the Superman comics, watched any of the TV series, or seen any of the other movies.  I know very little about Superman beyond the iconic figure of Christopher Reeve and the word kryptonite.  So, here's my question for those who love him: when do things ever really get rough for Superman?

For this movie, I think they actually did a great job of providing him with villains of comparable strength and skill--not surprising, since they used other Kryptonians.  They provided great back story, the actors were all very good for their roles, Henry Cavill is both talented and beautiful, and the special effects were fantastic.  Whole cities were destroyed in the midst of flying fisticuffs, and the Indian Ocean may never be the same.

But what happens now?  I suppose the Evil League of Evil (I know, not associated with Superman, just run with it) will threaten the people he loves in order to get their way...but seriously, this guy?  Resistant to the vacuum of space, stands up to crushing gravity machines, you can throw him through one or two or three or fifteen skyscrapers and he comes out still standing, and that's all before the laserbeam eyes...frankly, he is ridiculously powerful.  He is the Voldemort of the superhero world, and I just don't see a Harry Potter in his future.

Bow before the Man of Steel, puny heroes!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love Letters Post #21


 

Notes: So, I don’t get as in-depth on the game as I wanted to, but I just ran out of time to write and I need to move past this particular day in the story.  Don’t hate me, Bostonians!  Plus, smexy chapter!  Plus introspection, plus history, all equals what I hope is a good time.  Thanks for the birthday wishes, guys, I had a lovely dayJ

Title: Love Letters

 

Part Twenty-One:  Gestures, Letters and Brief Mentions of Baseball

 

***

 

On Wednesday morning Ben gratefully escaped to the library before most of the apartment was awake, only pausing to grab a cup of coffee and share a few words with Jasmine before he was on his way.  He’d wanted to do more, had actually been planning on waking Ryan up and talking to him first, but the other man had looked tired.  Plus, there was a suspicion at the back of Ben’s mind that there was nothing he could say right now that wouldn’t simply be a rehash of what he’d said last night, and that conversation had been decidedly unsatisfying.

Today would go better.  Tonight was the game, so at least Ben had an excuse to get them out of the apartment for a while. 

Passive-aggressive, Ben heard Michael sing-song in his mind.  Ben rolled his eyes at himself as he got into a cab and headed back to the library.  Even his mental versions of his friends were bugging him now.  He laid his head back on the seat and focused on what he needed to go through today.  Planning, getting a system in place in advance, that was what made him happy.  What had he been thinking, springing a surprise visit on Ryan?  Who wanted that kind of hassle?

Ryan does, Michael reminded him.  Or do you not remember that first greeting?

“You can shut up now,” Ben groaned out loud.  The cabbie looked back at him with a scowl.  “Sorry, not you.”  He gave the guy a bigger tip in apology for being a dumbass.

This morning the Arnold letters, some of the Adams letters and the Toth letters were pulled for Ben.  He’d already read the Arnold letters in the online database, but it was interesting to see them in person.  The paper was very high quality, folded precisely and written on with an elegant, almost fussy hand.  Benedict Arnold had been a meticulous lover, courting his women with pretty words and grandiose promises.  He had also been a determined lover, persisting in his courtship in one instance until the lady he was interested in married another man.  His last wife had fallen more easily to his charms, and their marriage by all accounts had been a good one until Arnold’s downfall.  He went on to be castigated in England, burned in effigy on Saint John and nearly beheaded by the French on Guadeloupe.

By contrast, the Adams letters were warm and cramped and occasionally sloppy, a mixture of affection and family information and advice to one another from afar.  They spoke of a long and profound understand between the two of them, and a mutual admiration that wasn’t affected by time or distance.  Not many men of the period could or would confess true friendship and admiration for their wives, but John Adams did both, continually, with almost every letter he wrote.

After this wandering Way of Life is passed I hope to return, to my best friend and pass the Remainder of our Days in Quiet.

I cannot learn that Great Britain is yet in Temper to listen to Propositions of Peace, and I dont expect before another Winter to have much to do in my present Capacity.

My tenderest affection to our dear Children, and believe me, ever yours,

John Adams

 

They were pleasant letters to read, and Ben touched each one with careful reverence before moving on to the next.  He got through about a quarter of the collection before the pain in his back reminded him that he needed a break, and he sat up and took a moment to check his phone.  Three new messages from Linda, nothing from Ryan.  Ben frowned and put the phone back on his bag.  He could talk to Linda later.

The other letters that Ben was looking at today had been written by Avery Toth, a carpenter’s son who joined the 3rd Virginia Cavalry in 1779.  In 1780, he and over a hundred of his fellow soldiers were massacred by British dragoons after the British commander’s horse was shot down, pinning the commander beneath it, as he rode forward to negotiate a surrender.

What made Avery Toth’s letters particularly special was the fact that their intended recipient was unknown.  The letters were addressed to C, and sent through the intermediary of Avery’s sister Geraldine back home.  Numerous historians had speculated over the years as to who C could be, some thinking it was Catherine Darrow, the sister of a friend of the Toth family, while a few radical ones had suggested it might even be Charles Lancaster, a young man who had attempted to join up with the same regiment but had been dismissed after his parents Loyalist sympathies were exposed.

Whoever had been the intended, the letters had ended up back in Geraldine’s care after her brother’s death, and she had passed them down to her own children.  They were sweet, tentative letters, less full of grandiose words and more about the small things of everyday life, and how hard it was to miss the other person.

We are settled now in a meadow outside of Charleston, while our Commander has gone into town.  The ground is churned to mud from the horses, and the rain is not pleasant.  I have made my bed beneath a tree, that I must share with four other men. 

That I can and should bear such things is the life of a Soldier, but I feel I would bear them better were you with me.  I feel yore absence like I would the loss of my own limb.

          There were never any replies, as far as later readers could tell.  If there had been any letters on Avery Toth’s body, then they had been buried with him in a mass grave in Waxhaws, South Carolina.  It put Ben in a melancholy state of mind as he read, each letter a bit stumbling, the words occasionally misspelled or scratched out.  These were the words of a hopeful young man to his love, and unlike so many of the other letters that Ben read, this one had no happy ending.  Even Benedict Arnold had lived to die of gout at the age of 60.  Avery Toth was dead before his eighteenth birthday.

                Still, the letters must have been a comfort to C, whoever he or she was.  They had been something special, something for C alone even if they’d gone through Geraldine’s hands first.  That sort of connection was important.

                After reading the last one Ben was seized with a mood.  Moods happened every now and then, the kinds of moods where the bits and pieces of his psyche that held his impulses for grandiosity firmly in check suddenly stopped working.  He glanced at his watch; a little after one.  Plenty of time. 

                Ben was able to persuade Calanthe to help him find a florist and hook him up with a delivery service, while Ben called up Eddie, the Man with the Tickets, and got seats in Fenway Park up by the Green Monster.

                In the end, after half an hour of indecision, Ben forced himself to just write it out on a torn piece of notebook paper.  It wasn’t pretty, but that wasn’t the important part.

                Ryan,

          So it turns out that courting is hard, harder than I thought when we began.  I don’t always think things through, and as a friend pointed out to me the other night, I can’t expect you to read my mind.  You have decades of my letters, but those aren’t me.  I have impressions of you, but they aren’t complete.  This is okay.  We have time to fill in the blank spaces, but I think you shouldn’t have to make do with secondhand letters anymore.  This is the first that’s just for you: a slice of my time, the impressions of my hand and mind, and a piece of my heart.  I’ll give you more; I want to give you everything.  I want to know you best.

          Ben

                All true, all stuff that scared the hell out of Ben, and still not complete.  But, Ben consoled himself, it was only the first letter of what would hopefully be many.  He gave the letter, the sunflowers (roses were clichĂ©, and not bright enough) and the tickets to a courier and had them delivered to the apartment, then got back to work.

                Ben was halfway through the Toth letters when his phone began to buzz.  He checked the number: Ryan.  Before Ben could pick up, though, the call ended.

                That seemed like a bad sign.  Ben too off his cotton gloves and stood up, ready to head outside, but then the texts started to come through.

                Sorry I totally forgot u r in the library.

                This is amazing.

                I love it.

                U need to be here, like now.

                I love the flowers.

                Ive never gotten flowers before.

                Srsly, be here 5 minutes ago.

                It was still early, but Ben cut out anyway.  Vaguely he was aware he hadn’t eaten lunch, or breakfast, and that he was going to suffer for that soon, but right now he was coasting on anticipation.  He managed to get up to the apartment before Ryan jumped him this time, but there was still enough enthusiasm to slam his back into the door as Ryan kissed Ben, winding his arms around Ben’s neck and holding on for dear life.

                Jesus Christ, the way Ryan could hitch his hips up was going to be the death of him.  Ben’s libido came swarming back to life so fast he got light-headed, and had to pull away and look up for a moment just to catch his breath and remind himself that he couldn’t go down on Ryan in the living room.

                “Ye-owch!”  Ben looked over Ryan’s shoulder and saw Jasmine standing by the window, fanning herself.  “Feel free to keep going, don’t stop on my account,” she said.

                “Aww, that’s so sweet,” Ben heard Lenny say, probably from the couch but he couldn’t see because Ryan tugged his face back down and kissed him again.  “Why don’t you ever get me flowers and write me love notes after we have a fight?”

                “Um…what?”

                Those were the first words Ben had heard Grant say, and he might have heard more but by then Ryan was pulling Ben down the hall and into his room, shutting the door and dropping to his knees so fast it must have hurt them.  He didn’t seem to notice.

                “Ryan,” Ben said, weakly tugging on his hair.  “Wait, maybe we should—”

                “All I’ve been thinking about all day is you coming down my throat,” Ryan said hoarsely, grappling with Ben’s belt and tugging his pants down.  “We can talk later, okay?  Please?”

                “Well, since you said please,” Ben joked, then groaned when Ryan’s lips brushed the head of his cock, opening to barely wet him with his tongue and then sliding down, taking him in deeper and deeper until there was no further he could go.  “Oh fuck,” Ben sighed.  Fuck, that felt so good.  Ryan licked around the base of his cock, then back up, humming happily.  Ben relaxed his hold on Ryan’s hair and stroked him instead, scratching his nails across Ryan’s scalp and cupping his straining jaw and thrusting, just a little, with his hips.

                Ryan pulled off for a moment.  “Do that more,” he said, his voice wrecked, then sucked Ben in again, his tongue dancing across the hot, hard flesh.  Ben didn’t need any more convincing to thrust harder, and Ryan took it, gagging a few times but holding onto Ben’s hips tight, urging him forward.  Ben felt his orgasm coming on far too fast to be good for his dignity, and he tried to pull away but Ryan wouldn’t have it.  He came, and Ryan swallowed with a moan, and if Ben was a slightly more selfish person he would have collapsed to the ground right then and gone happily dormant for a few minutes.  Or hours.

                Instead he rested just enough to catch his breath, then pulled Ryan to his feet and walked him back to the bed.  Ryan’s mouth tasted bitter and sweet at the same time, and Ben licked into it as he urged Ryan out of his clothes.  It was easy enough; he was just wearing boxers—electric blue this time—and a t-shirt, and the boxers weren’t doing much to keep his erection under wraps anyway.  Ben slid down Ryan’s body and mouthed over the precome stain in the fabric, spreading it with his tongue as he traced the line of Ryan’s cock through the slick fabric.

                “More,” Ryan begged.  “More, please, I need you.”  And Ben wasn’t a sadist, so he gave Ryan more, pulling the fabric away and brushing his lips over the silky skin of Ryan’s cock.  This was the first time he’d gotten so close to it in the light of day, and it was gorgeous, just like everything else on Ryan.  Ben fisted the base as he closed his mouth over the top, and in less than a minute Ryan was coming, shamelessly loud, his back arching with pleasure.  Ben swallowed the first pulse, then let the rest flow over his fingers, thick and viscous and real.  The air smelled like sex and heat, and Ryan was still moaning, soft but genuine, still lost in orgasm.  This was good, this was worth it, uncertainty and anxiety and inevitable mistakes.  Ryan was worth it.

                “Mmm, was that make-up sex or just regular sex?” Ryan asked lazily. 

                “I’m not sure,” Ben said.  He sat up to take off his jacket and shirt, and kick his socks off as well.  “Did we have a fight?”

                “I don’t think so.  Just a weirdness.”

                “Those are going to happen with me,” Ben warned.

                “Me too,” Ryan said with a sigh.  “Sorry about the party, I really didn’t think you’d mind.  You used to party all the time, didn’t you?”

                “Back when I smoked a lot of pot,” Ben agreed.  “But it’s been a few years.”

                “Got it.  Parties in moderation.”  He reached out and pulled Ben down on top of him.  It was sticky and sweaty, but Ben didn’t care.  “Except for two-person parties.”

                “A natural exemption.”

                “Excellent.  Wanna go party in the shower?”

                Ben tucked his face into the side of Ryan’s neck and laughed.  God, he felt loopy now.  “Okay, but then I need food.”

                “We can eat at the stadium!”

                “I need real food, not hot dogs and beer.”

                “Aww, baby, don’t be a hater.”

 

                In the end they were rather late to the game, but the Red Sox were winning and so the people they had to push past to get to their seats were inclined to be forgiving.  They had beer and hot dogs, although Ben had eaten something back at the apartment first, they jeered the Yankees with the crowd (Ben felt a little guilty doing it, but his loyalty to New York was fleeting) and they sang Sweet Caroline during the 8th inning.

                As a gesture, it was a good one.  As a date it was even better, and even in the middle of the crowd, all of Ben’s world was Ryan.  He could handle that.

 

 

***Avery Toth is a fiction invented by me.  Sorry, letter lovers.

 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Two Lovely Things!

This is a good weekend for a number of reasons, but here are the top two:

1) Denver PrideFest!  The Colorado M/M authors group (which is expanding to encompass other orientations) rented a space at Pride and set up to sell our books, including the Out In Colorado anthology that six of us wrote for.  Saturday our group consisted of me, Caitlin RicciMarie SextonM.L. RhodesTabatha HeartCarter Quinn, George SeatonBrannan Black and a surprise visit from K-lee Klein, who was down from Calgary visiting M.L.  We talked to a lot of wonderful people, saw a lot of incredible outfits and even sold some books:)  I'm a terrible salesperson and was basically there to be eye candy and sign things, but Tabatha is amazing and so are Marie and Caitlin, so thank god they were there to take point.  There'll be some of the same, some different people manning the booth today, and we met more Colorado authors who want to join the group, so hey!  We're expanding!  Nice:)

Want some pictures?  Let's share some Pride pics!



 Gorgeous, flexible boys...what's not to like?

 Choices, choices...

 Posing for a picture with the...whatever it is!  Rainbow albino sabertooth?

Lucky bag of puppies getting pets.


Which brings us to 2), or, why I'm not at Pride today helping.  It's not because it's Father's Day, although happy day to all you dads!  It's because it's also my birthday, and I wanted to sleep in and basically do nothing for most of the day, so that's the agenda.  Plus my man has homework to do, so.  Yeah.  Lazy Sunday.  I got some wonderful gifts from friends and family (huge kudos to my readerwife, who knows what I like, and to my man, who bought the dress I wore to Pride--you can tell a boy dressed me for that, can't you) and cards and messages and a whole lot of love, so thank you!  I love you too!  Happy birthday to me, and I look forward to many more years of knowing you, talking with you, writing for you and referring to you all as my darlins, because you are.  I am an incredibly fortunate person.



Happy day, guys.  Happy, happy day:)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Love Letters Post #20-B


Notes: What our boys really need is some alone time, but that isn’t what they get.  Not yet!  Soon, I promise.  Boston is taking up a lot of story time, but we’re working through some things here.  Patience, my darlins, the sweetness is coming.

Title: Love Letters

 

Part Twenty-B:  People Aren’t Psychics

 

***

 

If Hell—or for Ben, at least Purgatory—was a crowd he didn’t know, then Heaven was a library.  The main branch of the Boston Public Library was one of the most physically imposing buildings Ben had been inside.  It reminded him a little of the cathedrals he’d been dragged to as a child when he and his mother had lived overseas, except where the cathedrals were lit with the candles of the faithful and murky rainbows of stained glass, the library was bright with electric lights and sunshine.  The central room was a long hallway with an arched stone ceiling and two rows of wooden desks that spanned the length of the room.  Ben listened with half an ear as the librarian who was helping him with his research chatted quietly about the age of the library, the architecture, and the different collections.
 
Props to Time Magazine for the picture
 

“You’ll be working in this room,” she said, escorting him out of the main hall into a smaller chamber with a wide table and a single chair.  “I’ve gone ahead and pulled the relevant Adams letters.  Just buzz me when you’re done and I’ll get you the Crooks.  If you need to leave at any point to get a drink or go to the restroom, please lock the door behind you when you go and I’ll unlock it for you when you need to enter again.”

“Thank you,” Ben glanced quickly at her nametag, “Calanthe.”  Wow, someone had gone very retro with that. 

“My pleasure, sir.”

Ben sat down in the chair, in the absolute quiet of the room, and looked at the priceless documents on display in front of him.  The air was tinged with the scent of old paper, and the lights in here were low and soothing.  God, if he wasn’t careful Ben was going to end up falling asleep, it was so relaxing in here.  If he conked out and drooled all over one of the Adams letters, though, he’d never forgive himself.  Ben rubbed his fingers against his eyes, arched to crack his upper back, then went to work.

When Ben wrote about letters, when he described them, he wrote about much more than just the content of the letters themselves.  That sort of thing he could look up anywhere, especially since John Adams’ romance with Abigail was so well known.  How the letter was written was equally important, though.  Did the nub of the pen scratch in places, slip here and there?  Was the writing cramped or expansive?  Was the letter torn and bent, or pressed carefully and treasured?  Little things like that gave Ben insight into the original author’s frame of mind when Ben saw them, and even if it was mostly just impressions, nothing provable, it was still interesting.  He bent over the letter, turned the nearest light to illuminate it better and got to work.

Ben filled half a notebook with observations before he finally stopped for lunch.  It might have been more efficient if he’d typed things directly into his computer, but the intermediate step of writing them out by hand gave him time to really consider what he was doing.  He ran outside to grab a sandwich and some coffee at the nearest cafĂ©, inhaled them in less than five minutes and went back in to continue working. 

Ben tore himself away once his eyes started blurring so badly he couldn’t make out the script anymore.  God, he was tired…  He buzzed up Calanthe and let her know he’d be back tomorrow, then left the letters to her expert care as he packed up and headed back outside.  Ben sat down on a bench, tilted his head back and considered the wisdom of having another cup of coffee when all he really wanted to do was sleep.  That wasn’t likely to happen anytime soon though, so…

Someone sat down on the bench next to him.  “Hey.”

Ben forced his eyes open and looked over at the newcomer.  “Ryan?”  He sat up a little more.  “Hi.”

Ryan smiled.  It wasn’t his normal beaming grin, but at least it didn’t look forced.  “Hi.  You weren’t answering your phone, so I thought I’d come make sure you hadn’t pulled a Neverending Story on me.”

“A what?”

The Neverending Story?” Ryan prompted.  “Book, movie, bad sequels…you don’t know it, really?”

“I don’t.”

“We should watch it, the movie is actually really good.  I loved the book when I was a kid, too.”

“I’d love to watch a movie with you,” Ben said honestly.  Somewhere quiet and dark and private  “And I’m sorry about the phone thing; I turned it off in the library.”

“That’s okay.”  Ryan looked down and back up, his hands fidgeting with the hem of his shirt, and Ben smiled at him.

“Come here.”  Ryan came, and Ben tilted his head and kissed him gently, not caring that it was four in the afternoon on a busy street and that people might be watching.  For a moment nobody else mattered.

They pulled apart after a moment, and now Ryan seemed much more at ease.  “Mmm…do that again,” he ordered, grinning at last. 

“Soon,” Ben promised.  “What’s the plan for the rest of the day?”

“Well, Jasmine’s cooking again, and Lenny and Grant are having a few people they’re planning a show with over to the apartment tonight.”

“So we wouldn’t be missed if we stayed away?” Ben asked hopefully, visions of dinner out and, even better, a hotel room playing out in his head.

Ryan frowned.  “You don’t like them?”

“I like them fine.  Especially Jasmine,” Ben assured him.  “I’m just not sure I’m going to be great company tonight.”  Because I’m going to fall asleep as soon as I get horizontal.

“I already promised we’d be there,” Ryan said, with the air of someone who was just figuring out that doing that might not have been a great idea.  “I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay.”  It wasn’t like Ben had told him not to.  “But save tomorrow night, I’ve got something planned for us.”

“Okay.”  They sat there quietly for a moment, awkward in a way they hadn’t been before, until Ben reached out and tangled his fingers together with Ryan’s.  Ryan gripped back tightly and looked relieved.

“Do we need to bring anything back?” Ben asked, forcing himself upright with a little grimace.  His back ached from being bent over the table all day.

“Just ourselves.”  Ryan pulled Ben’s hand to his lips and kissed his knuckles, then let go and went to flag down a taxi.  He got one in under a minute, naturally.  They headed back to the apartment and Ben did his best to put himself in a sociable mindset.

In the end his mindset didn’t matter—sociable was the order of the evening whether Ben wanted it or not.  A “few people” ended up being around twenty, the apartment was packed and Jasmine was busy as hell, and loving every minute of it.  Ben was introduced around as “Ryan’s writer!” by Lenny, who was completely taken with the concept, and he shook hands and got hugs and forgot names for a few hours as more people filtered in and out.

It wasn’t so bad, except for the fact that Ryan was waylaid a few minutes after their return by some fellow illustrators, and the friendly hellos soon morphed into a technical discussion that Ben couldn’t follow and wasn’t really invited to.  Ryan was enjoying himself though, that was clear to see, and so Ben did his best to keep a look of vague interest on his face when he was close to the group, which was whenever he could escape from Lenny and the flow of newcomers.  The need for sleep pulled at him, reinforced by warm food and alcohol, and it was only the noise and the occasional moments of discomfort that came from being surrounded by strangers that kept him on his feet.

At half past nine, Ben’s phone rang.  He checked the number and sighed with relief, then looked over at Ryan, who was talking to three other people about oil painting.  Seeing Ryan confident and eloquent about his expertise was captivating, but by this time Ben needed an escape, and the phone call was the perfect excuse.

“I have to take this,” he told Ryan, interrupting for just a moment.  “I’ll be back.”

“Okay.”  Ryan turned his face up and Ben kissed him obligingly, then headed for Ryan’s bedroom.  He got inside, sat down on the bed and answered the call.

“Holy shit, you’re a lifesaver.”

Michal laughed.  “Someone sounds cranky!  What, Boston not all it’s cracked up to be?”

“Insofar as Boston has Ryan and an amazing library, yeah, it’s fine.”

“So what’s the problem then?”

“Boston also comes with three roommates and, right now, a party.” 

“A party, oh god forbid.”

“Shut up, you know how I am at parties.”  Ben knew he was whining but he couldn’t help it.

“Yes, I know how you are.  You’re probably contemplating mass murder.”

“Not murder.  Suicide, maybe.”

Michael tsked.  “Now now, no suicide on your very first trip out there.  You can’t tell me you aren’t enjoying being with your boy.”

“I do enjoy being with him, just not with everyone else.”

“And naturally you’ve talked it out beforehand so he knows your preferences and can cater to them without either of you feeling uncomfortable or put-upon on this visit.”  Michael was using his “smug bastard” tone of superiority, which made Ben want to throw something at him.

“You know we didn’t talk,” Ben sighed.  “The visit was a surprise, remember?”

“Then consider this a valuable learning experience for next time.  Dialogue is key when neither one of you has psychic powers.”

“Yeah, yeah.  I know I’m being an idiot, thanks.”  Ben didn’t want to make Ryan or his roommates uncomfortable, or like they had to change just for him.  On the other hand, he was so fucking tired…

“Welcome to being in a relationship that you care enough to make sacrifices for,” Michael told him, soundly gleeful.  “Idiocy comes with the territory.  It’s part of the learning curve.  Just don’t be too much of an idiot; I don’t want you coming home in tears.”

“Oh, like you’ve ever had a relationship that you’ve made sacrifices for.”  If he had, it wasn’t when he and Ben had been together.

“I had the same boyfriend all through uni, thanks very much.  Can you say the same?”

 “Wow, would you look at the time?  I’ve got to go, so sorry, bye.”  Ben hung up and tossed the phone on the nearest pillow, then lay back on the bed with a sigh.  He’d go back out there in a minute, in just a minute.  It was relatively quiet in here, and the things that had kept Ben from sleeping last night seemed irrelevant now.  Just one more minute, and he’d head back out into the fray.  One more minute, just one…

Ben woke up an indeterminate amount of time later, when he felt himself being rearranged on the bed.  “Hmm?”

“It’s okay, it’s just me,” Ryan said softly, moving the phone to the bedside table before he tucked the pillow under Ben’s head.

“Shit, what time is it?”

“Late.”  The sounds of a party still filtered in through the door, but they were a little quieter now. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep…”

“You obviously need it,” Ryan said.  “Jasmine told me you didn’t sleep much last night.”  He sounded unhappy, and Ben hated that.

“I didn’t, but it’s not because of you.”  Ben sat up and caught Ryan’s hand in his.  “It isn’t, seriously.  It just takes me a little time to get used to a new place.”

Ryan didn’t say anything, but he didn’t let go of Ben’s hand either.  Ben tugged him close and went to kiss him, then grimaced.  “Wait, my mouth tastes horrible, I should go brush my teeth.”

“I don’t care.”  Ryan kissed him anyway, long and sweet and a little anxious still.  He tasted like cranberry vodka and tamarind, and he opened the kiss and invited Ben in, their tongues tangling briefly.  Ryan pressed closer and Ben felt himself start to get hard, despite his fatigue.  His free hand slipped around Ryan’s waist, underneath his shirt and across the smooth skin of his back—

“Ryan!  Yo, Ry!”  Someone banged on the door.  “Come on, you said you’d be two minutes!”

Ryan broke the kiss with a huff.  “Hang on!” he shouted.  “Sorry,” he mumbled to Ben, whose erection was already going down as he remembered their circumstances.

“It’s fine.  Go on, I’ll follow as soon as I brush my teeth.”

“No, stay here.  Get some rest.  I’ll be back soon.”

Part of Ben wanted to argue, but more of him wanted to sleep.  “Okay.”  Ryan slipped away and rejoined the party, and Ben waited for the bathroom to be free so he could get properly ready for bed.  Despite his catnap he fell asleep fast, and not even Ryan rejoining him and wrapping him up like an octopus could do more than make his eyelids flutter.

He slept, and he didn’t dream.  It was wonderful.