Monday, November 30, 2015

Time: I Don't Have It, So Have An Excerpt Instead

I'm sorry, darlins, I should be posting the next Redstone right now, but between NaNo and a short story that was due on the 30th and end-of-month logging for my real job, it isn't done yet. I know. It sucks. I won't go far as to say I suck, but I wish I could have gotten it done on time.

If I'm lucky, I'll get a client cancellation that will allow me to post late Tuesday.

If I'm not, then it won't be up until Wednesday.

Arg arg arg.

How can I make it up to you?

How about an excerpt from the holiday story I have coming out, what...jeez, today? Timing. TIMING, I DON'T HAVE IT!

Yeah, okay, excerpt from Worth The Wait, coauthored with Caitlin Ricci and out with Dreamspinner Press, which you can find here: Worth The Wait.

***



The rain wasn’t heavy, but it was constant, a continuous misty drizzle that infused the air with more of a chilling sensation than was actually there. In a few months, once spring arrived, Tate knew there would be pale green buds just starting to appear on the tips of the maple trees in their neat little sidewalk enclosures, and the scene outside the Tattered Cover bookstore should have been a lovely one. Instead it was three days until Christmas, and the rain was quickly turning into sleet around him. The remaining light from the pale winter sunset was just enough to make the wet ground sparkle a bit, reflecting in the store’s windows, which were ringed with plain, perfect white pinpricks of light.

A long line of people stood on the sidewalk outside the store, in bulky multicolored coats or under sturdy umbrellas, chatting and waiting impatiently for the line to move forward. It was, objectively, a lovely evening scene, one which Tate might have enjoyed if not for his quickly soaking feet as he stood in the wet and wished he hadn’t agreed to go to the bookstore during the last minute mad rush of Christmas shoppers.

Subjectively, it was a special sort of punishment for the shortsighted. Tate shivered as a tiny rivulet of ice water slid down the side of his face and dropped onto his sodden shirt collar. His hoodie was entirely insufficient against the weather, but he hadn’t planned on being outside long enough for it to matter and had come straight from work, with no time to change between. He had a better coat, far away where he’d left his car before hopping on the Sixteenth Street Mall bus to get here, but if he went back for it now he’d be giving up his place in line. He was already close enough to the back that he didn’t want to surrender any potential advantage when it came to getting these books signed. The plastic crinkled under his arms as he gripped his package tighter, and Tate sighed. At least he’d had the foresight to wrap the books up in a plastic grocery bag to keep them dry before heading out.

This wasn’t exactly how he’d seen his Friday night playing out. Then again, since his usual Friday night would have been going home and crashing on the couch after ten hours of mostly inane help desk queries, he couldn’t say this was worse, exactly. At least he had a purpose other than mindless relaxation tonight.

“Anthea Withershine will be signing her books there, Uncle Tate!” his ten-year-old niece had informed him yesterday, awe and avarice warring in her voice. “I have all of them. I’ve got The Mystery of the Falling Star and The Lost Kingdom of Lyonne and The Boy With the Clockwork Brain and—”

“You don’t have to list them all, Addie,” Tate’s brother, Jim, had pointed out from where he was monitoring their Skype conversation.

“Yes I do!” she’d insisted. “So he knows which ones I’ve got!”

“You just said you have them all.”

“All except her newest one, Dad,” Addie said, not able to restrain an eye roll. “It’s not out yet, but her website says she’ll be selling copies at the bookstore. Uncle Tate”—she turned her big, pleading eyes on him—“can you please, please, please go and get me a copy for my birthday? And get it signed? Can you tell her to make it out to Addie and tell her how to spell my name right?”

“Begging isn’t attractive,” her father informed her. “Don’t put your uncle on the spot. Go and get ready for bed.”

She’d reluctantly given up her spot in front of the computer, and Jim waited patiently for Tate to shotgun the rest of his coffee. He didn’t mind getting up early to talk to his niece, but the fifteen-hour time difference from Denver to Gunsan meant he couldn’t do it without some serious caffeinated fortification.

“You don’t have to do this, but if you want to I’ll send you some cash for the book,” Jim said when he seemed sure he had Tate’s attention again.

“You don’t need to do that,” Tate protested. “It’s her birthday. I can manage one book.”

“If you do, you’ll be her favorite uncle. Addie’s been on a Withershine kick for the last six months, and the new releases are always slow to get here.”

Tate chuckled. “I’m her only uncle, but I’m sure I can do this. When’s the signing?”

“There’s this thing called the Internet. It magically connects you to information without you ever having to leave your apartment—”

Tate flipped his brother the finger. “Jackass.”

He’d figured it out eventually, and figured that since the signing was on a Friday from five to close, he could just show up after work. He’d bought used copies of two of Withershine’s other books in advance, just in case they sold out of the new one, and had congratulated himself on his foresight.

Tate had had no idea that people had been lining up for this signing since morning, but his naivetĂ© was disabused the moment he got off the bus. The line stretched for three blocks back down the mall, parents and kids and plenty of other interested readers all waiting impatiently for the inches to go by. Tate had gotten in line at the end, his head swimming a little, and had checked his watch. Four thirty. And he’d thought he was being clever by leaving work early.

Now, an hour and a half later, he was half a block farther along and very, very cold. His skin crawled beneath his clothes, and Tate suppressed a shiver. He bounced on the balls of his feet a little, trying to warm up a bit. He rolled his neck, then his shoulders, then—“Shit!” The plastic bag holding his used books tumbled out of his hands and spilled onto the pavement. “No, no, no.” Tate dove for the bag, which still had one of the books in its protective skin, but the other…. Where was it? Tate looked around wildly but couldn’t see anything book shaped in the fading light. The streetlamps would flicker on soon, but by then it would be too late. The book would be ruined.


“Hey.” A light voice pulled Tate out of his growing panic. “I think I found your escapee.” 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Redstone Ch. 15. Pt. 1

Notes: Aaand thus we start the inexorable slide into the American holiday season. This Thursday is Thanksgiving, which will be a pretty easy event for us--ie we're not cooking--but life in general will get busier. I know that's true for a lot of you, so thanks for finding the time to read along. I am very thankful for my wonderful readers, guys, so... *hugshugshugs*

Title: Redstone Chapter 15, Part 1.

*** 

Today was the day. Wyl was nervous; not a strange reaction to the beginning of what he hoped would be the end, but he was feeling it more than he thought he would.

It would all come down to timing, every piece of the puzzle having to snap into place at just the right time. There was a little leeway in a few places; as long as Wyl got to the infirmary before Tamara, he could plant the data chip in the drop spot for her. Then she’d need to get to it before anyone else found it or it was cleared away, but she seemed confident that she could. The chip was smaller than a fingernail and completely transparent, so the odds of someone else finding it when they weren’t actively looking weren’t good, so. They had some breathing room there.

After that it was up to Tamara. She was the one who’d been spending time in the administrative wing, so she had the best idea of when to open all the vents and trigger the gas so that the fewest people would be between her and Warden Harrison. Once the gas was set off, people would fall where they stood and be out for a good half an hour, or at least that was what Robbie thought. There were uncertainties there as well. The supply of gas was finite, and it would be dispersed throughout a wider portion of the prison than usual, so it was entirely possible that it would be less potent than the data suggested. Half an hour wasn’t much time for Tamara to break into Harrison’s office, steal the data she needed to and wipe the cameras. Less time than that meant her success would be a toss-up.

If it all went well, then they’d get hard evidence of malfeasance to Garrett by the end of the day, and be off this fucking rock in another 48 hours. If it didn’t…well, Wyl didn’t care to think about that. He didn’t have time to think about it, either. It was time to get this caper started, and that meant getting hit in the face. Thank fuck Robbie was on shift right now.

“ZeeBee,” he told his robot, whose eyestrip shifted obediently to face him. “Enact one-time only five second delay on defensive protocols.”

ZeeBee’s strip dimmed. “Defensive protocols are not to be tampered with, per previous commands.”

Wyl frowned. “What commands?”

“Per Christopher Robin’s alpha command. As follows: ZeeBee, no matter what, don’t let Wyl talk you into turning off your protections, okay? You stay on him and you watch him and don’t let anybody hurt him.”

It was creepy; ZeeBee even did Robbie’s voice perfectly. Wyl hadn’t known these robots had that capability. It would be cooler to have found out when Robbie wasn’t cockblocking his plan, though. “Override Christopher Robin’s alpha command, authorization Wyl-bonder-thirteen. Enact previously stated delay on defensive protocols.”

“Five second delay enacted. Per Christopher Robin’s beta command, I am instructed to tell you: goddammit, Wyl, don’t be an idiot.”

Wyl grinned, shaking his head as he battled with the nerves that made his hands want to tremble. “Thanks, ZeeBee.”

So much that could go wrong here…it wouldn’t take a lot of digging to work out that he’d built the chip if it was found, and if that happened, then it would be easy to dump Wyl and Robbie in the depths of Redstone to fight it out long before Garrett could do anything about it. Not to mention Tamara, who as a natural had far fewer of the inbuilt resources that the rest of them had. She would be royally fucked, and then Kyle would never get out of here and Isidore’s faith would be repaid with utter chaos.

Wyl wondered, not for the first time, if Garrett really understood what he asked of people. He was clearly getting used to maneuvering on a grander scale than Wyl could see. He wondered, when would they stop being his friends, and start being pieces on a board?

Not fair, he chided himself. Garrett was a spoiled, elitist jackass sometimes, but he never evaded his responsibilities and he never forgot about his friends and family. There was no doubt that he loved his husband and kid more than anything, and the rest of them, those who had been brought into the sphere of his affections; they were more than lip service. Wyl knew that; it was just hard to remember it sometimes, when they were so far apart, and things seemed so fraught.

Nah, it’d be fine. Or at least, it would if Wyl got himself carried to the clinic in the next five minutes or so. He reached over to his Morse machine and tapped out a final message: Going now. Ten-fifteen minutes.

Understood. Good luck.

Nice and succinct, good. Wyl made sure the chip was securely attached to the back side of his earlobe, then headed for the door of their apartment. It was time to pick a fight.

He was in luck today. Of his two most forward suitors, if violent-minded rapists could be called that, only one of them was downstairs in the common room, zoned out in front of the holoscreen. There were a few other men there with him, but Wyl didn’t care about them. They might follow the man’s lead, but Wyl had ZeeBee as his ace in the hole.

He walked down the stairs to the main floor, and made it almost all the way to the lounge in the center of the room before the man—what was his name, Fortay, that was it, Horace Fortay—even noticed him. And then when he did notice him, well. Wyl hardly had to do any work at all.

“He lives!” Fortay said, grinning widely. Nobody should have a mouth that wide. At further glance, Wyl could see that the edges of his lips had been cut and extended, deliberately creating the skin-tight rictus effect he was seeing now. It was one of the simpler, creepier mods he’d ever seen on a person. “Hey there, little lady. Are you looking for you daddy?”

“No,” Wyl said, affecting a sigh. “He’s working and I’m bored in our rooms.”

“Well, sweetheart.” If his grin had stretched any further it would have overtaken the rest of his face. “Why don’t you come and sit down next to me? I’ll keep you company until your daddy comes back.”

“Thanks,” Wyl said with a simper. He sat down on the edge of the lounge and scooted in toward the middle, where Fortay was spread out. The man reached a hand out, grabbed his upper arm and pulled him in even closer, until Wyl was reluctantly plastered against the man’s hard, bony chest.

“There, baby,” Fortay murmured. His breath smelled like stimulants and burnt hair. Wyl didn’t want to imagine what he’d been eating. “S’better like this, yeah? You wanna get a little more comfortable?” He pressed his groin against Wyl’s hip; he was already hard. Fuck, what kind of drugs was this guy on? Did he walk around with a perpetual boner? “We could get really comfortable. I could show you a real man’s cock, not that old, gray thing you’re used to.”

Oh, so astonishingly original. Wyl was already done with this. He pursed his lips and pretended to think about it. “Hmm, we could. Except I think my eyes might fall out of their fucking sockets if I have to look at what you’re deluded enough to call a real man’s cock.”

Fortay was caught off guard, his jaw actually dropping. One of the onlookers laughed nervously. “I mean,” Wyl continued, warming to his subject, “you look like more of a stretcher than a fattener, so you’ve either got a filament-thin little poker of a dick coiled up in your mommy’s underwear or it’s long and floppy and hangs down to your knees, but I can’t get any traction with that, if you know what I mean.”

“Wha—you—my dick ain’t fucking modded, you little cocksucker!”

Wyl smirked as he eased back toward the edge of the lounge. “Oh no? Then I guess I’d be lucky to be able to find it at all, it’s probably so itsy-bitsy—”

Bitch!” Fortay lunged, and Wyl helpfully stuck his face forward, hoping for a nice, smooth punch right across the cheek. Instead he got fingers around his throat, and the weight of Fortay’s body crashing into his, propelling him to the hard ground.

Wyl gasped and clawed at Fortay’s arms, trying to break his grip, but the guard was far stronger than Wyl. He tried to remember his training but it had been a while since he’d practiced, and was he blacking out? Fuck, blacking out wasn’t part of the plan…when would the five seconds be over? When would…he…

“Alert! Alert!” One bright green zap later and Fortay had been literally blasted off of Wyl’s chest. Wyl tried to inhale but somehow couldn’t, and after another moment he went unconscious.

 

 

Waking up in the infirmary was good. Waking up and not knowing how long he’d been there, that was bad, really fucking bad. Waking up and seeing the doctor standing over him, staring down sourly as he pulled a syringe straight out of Wyl’s throat, that was extra bad.

“Try not to cough,” the doctor advised a second after Wyl started coughing. “You dislocated your hyoid bone. It’s been stabilized and I’ve given you an intramuscular injection of Regen to jumpstart the healing process, but you’re not going to want to speak for another few hours if you can help it.”

“…long?” Wyl managed to wheeze.

The doctor glared at him. “What did I just tell you?”

“How long…here?” Wyl persisted.

“Fifteen minutes. Your husband has been informed, but his duties prevent him from visiting you right now. I’m keeping you under observation until I can relinquish you into his custody.”

Oh shit, Robbie knew. Robbie knew that Wyl had basically had his fucking throat crushed. He was probably spitting iron.

“This unit brought you to me,” the doctor went on, turning his glare on ZeeBee, who stood calmly in one corner of the room. “It has since refused to leave. I informed the techs that it’s malfunctioning, but they say it’s a low priority, so you’re going to have to put up with its company for now.”

Wyl waved a hand to indicate fine, and silently promised himself he’d modify ZeeBee’s code to hide his tampering better. The last thing he wanted was for the robot to be taken away and reprogrammed from scratch.

“Now, I have another patient to see to. What a day,” the doctor muttered. “First a spouse, now a natural; I don’t even have a treatment plan for someone so primitive.”

A natural. Oh, shit, Tamara was here already, and the doctor was going to see her now. The doctor turned and left, and as soon as he was gone, Wyl motioned for ZeeBee, well aware this was all being recorded. Fuck it, he’d deal with it somehow, and in the meantime he’d make this as innocuous as possible.

He reached up to scratch his ear, and came away with the chip in his hand. “ZeeBee,” he whispered, touching the robot on the arm and sticking the chip to it. He patted it once. “Go make Tamara your baby.” It was a fairly complicated command for his bot, since it had never met Tamara before and could only work off of conjecture, but after a moment of perfect stillness apart from its eyestrip pulsing, ZeeBee said, “Accepted,” and left the room.

Wyl sank back into the bed, conscious of the burn in his throat and his creeping fatigue. He’d done his best. It was up to ZeeBee and Tamara now.

 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Redstone Ch. 14, Pt. 2, or I Can't Even


Gah, fuuuuck my inability to handle timing, but I just can’t tackle more plot tonight. Honest to goodness, I spent almost 2 hours skyping with my ficwife trying to work through the plot holes of my contemporary novel, which isn’t even due until February but guess who picked it for her NaNoWriMo story (hint: ME) and has a schedule to keep, FML. And it was super helpful, like talking with her always is, but now I have to tackle a really important part of Redstone and my brain. Just. Won’t.  It can’t even.

 

 

So here. Have a missing scene, aka the porn I was too tired to put in a few weeks ago, since I’m not too tired to handle anything plotty.

I mean, you could complain, but c’mon. Porn. Let me love you.

 
***

 
The bed in their apartment was tiny, barely big enough for the two of them to lie across shoulder to shoulder. They’d spent enough time in ships that they were used to tight quarters though, and Wyl’s predilection for using Robbie as a pillow made things easier. Now, however, Wyl wished it was a little wider, because he wanted to lay Robbie down on it and spread him out across the sheets and stroke his hands over every inch of his husband’s body before finally taking him into his mouth. There definitely wasn’t room for Robbie to spread out, and the sheets were the slick, scratchy kind and the mattress had long since last its elastic qualities, so dispersing his weight wouldn’t make him much more comfortable than he already was.

Still, undressing him was fun, if a little concerning. Robbie had been awake for over seventy hours at this point, not the longest time he’d ever gone without sleep, but certainly harder to handle when he had to be on edge that whole time, always looking over his back and checking to see who might be coming up to stab him in it. And that was when he wasn’t worrying about Wyl, which…no. Just no. Robbie didn’t need to know the details of what was coming. With luck, Wyl would manage the confrontation well enough that he could spend a minute or so in a tank to take care of superficial wounds and come out as good as new. It didn’t have to be a big, scary, dire thing. It didn’t have to worry Robbie any more than he was already worried.

Wyl stroked his hands through Robbie’s graying hair, then down his neck and over his shoulders as he kissed him. Robbie responded to the intent in Wyl’s kiss, the fervency in the press of their bodies, but his touch was gentle, clumsy and a little slow, like he was already half-asleep.

“No, babe, no,” Wyl chided him even as he pushed him back onto the bed. Robbie couldn’t stretch out, but just the act of his head hitting the pillowy part of the mattress seemed blissful to him, if the groan he made was any indication. “No sleeping yet, c’mon.”

“Act now or hold your peace until morning,” Robbie said, the sentence breaking on a yawn in the middle. He might be tired, but he was still hard, and so Wyl dispensed with the foreplay, stripped out of his own clothes in a rush and slid between his husband’s legs. Robbie unconsciously moved to accommodate him, letting him in close without a moment’s thought.

It still fucked with Wyl’s head sometimes, how close he’d come to never knowing Robbie this way. How near he’d come to losing him, not just back when they first met but over and over again, always pulling it out somehow in the eleventh hour. It was humbling, for someone who had come so near ruining his entire life, that Robbie trusted Wyl like this, in close, with everything he had. Wyl wouldn’t let him get hurt. He wouldn’t weigh him down any more than he had to.

“Wyl?” He almost jumped when the back of Robbie’s hand trailed down his cheek. When he looked up Robbie’s expression had gone from soft to serious. “You okay?”

“I’m good,” Wyl said, honestly enough. “I’m fantastic, actually, let me prove it to you.”

“I believe you, you don’t need to—oh, fuck.” Nothing like a well-timed deep throating to give his husband just the distraction he needed.

“Mmm, Wyl, fuck.” And it might be stupid, but Wyl loved that Robbie was a babbler, he loved that he opened up and let go more and more when they had sex. Robbie was so closed off so much of the time, stern, almost severe; it was an intense and private pleasure to see him lose control of himself in their room. If that pleasure happened to belong only to Wyl, so much the better.

Wyl kept his mouth soft on Robbie’s cock, his suction gentle. Robbie smelled like stale sweat, a clear sign he’d been in uniform too long, because those things kept you odor-free for at least sixty hours before you had to clean them. As soon as they were done with this, Wyl was going to book them onto a pleasure cruise and keep Robbie in bed for a week. He would fuck his husband in every configuration he could think of and some he would have to look up, he would take away his senses and gift him with new ones, he would edge him and toy with him and let Robbie possess him completely, and do whatever he wanted to him, but now…right now…this was perfect. Just what they both needed, intimate and quiet and close, Robbie was already so close, his breath hitching as Wyl rubbed the calloused pads of his fingers over Robbie’s perineum, stroking the tender skin and curling his thumb over his sac.

Robbie stiffened, went perfectly still, and finally came in long, slow bursts, like his body was simply too tired to fight that hard against the artificial gravity. Wyl swallowed at lapped at the head of Robbie’s cock for a moment, just enough to make Robbie start to curl from oversensitivity, then pulled off, reaching down to touch himself. He could stroke off fast, it would only take a moment—

“No, c’mere.” Robbie’s hands gripped Wyl’s shoulders, clumsily pulling him up Robbie’s body to lie flat against him, his hard cock pressed to Robbie’s still-slick, softening one. He wrapped his legs around the backs of Wyl’s calves and slowly pushed his hips up. “Like this.”

“Fuck,” Wyl said succinctly, because yeah, okay. This would be quick. He put his forehead down on Robbie’s shoulder and started to thrust, rutting hard and fast into Robbie’s groin, both of them sweaty now but it was fresh and clean, and Robbie moved just enough to give Wyl the friction he needed, just enough to make it easy to come all over his husband, arching his back and gasping despite himself.

“Mmm, babe.” Wyl finally lifted up his head to grin at Robbie, who was—

Passed out. Completely passed out, clinging to Wyl like a fucking barnacle out of long habit but so unconscious Wyl could already see his eyes swimming under their bruised lids.

Wyl sighed. So much for the afterglow. On the other hand, now that Robbie was sacked out and Wyl’s own nervous energy was finally spent, he could dedicate some time to fixing up the device he’d need to get to Tamara. He leaned forward and kissed Robbie gently on the lips. “I’ll just clean us up then,” he murmured, and gently picked his way out of his husband’s embrace, then headed for the bathroom.

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Cover Reveal for Shadows & Light

Look what I got this morning! LOOK AT IT! Succumb to it's beauty and fall under it's spell.



I should probably wait to show this off until I have a buy link, but you know what? Screw that, I want to share. Shadows & Light comes out with Pride Publishing in February 2016, and I'll tell you all about how awesome it is closer to the date, but for now...look! Isn't it lovely?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Redstone Ch. 14, Pt. 1

Notes: New Redstone, and back to Isidore and Kyle we go! Thanks for following along on my updates, and thanks for pointing out where I need to do some editing--I promise I'm taking notes, my friends, I'm just a poor communicator sometimes.

Title: Redstone Chapter 14, Part 1

*** 

Nearly all of life for prisoners in Redstone necessitated a waiting game.

They waited for food, most of them crowding around the troughs that opened in the walls like the pigs they were forced to imitate, the more powerful or the weakest ones hanging back to be served by subordinates or steal a bite when no one was watching.

They waited for a chance to get clean: the showers came on once a day, for five minutes. Cold to wet you down, briefly hot with a spray of soap to cleanse, and then cold again. There were two rooms for showering, ostensibly divided by gender, but in reality one belonged to Klia, one to Rory. There was a hierarchy of cleanliness, as with everything, and if you weren’t part of a crew you either had to beg a bucket from someone, find a new source for water, or risk getting naked in among the press of some of the worst humanity the Federation had to offer. Outright rape was common, and “voluntary servicing” in the showers even more so.

Prisoners waited for the most basic of amenities, with wild-eyed fear and resigned acceptance and feral, savage glee. Prisoners who ran the show made other people wait for them, but in the end everybody waited. The constant lack of occupation led to people making their own, mostly in the worst ways possible. Bloodsports, gambling, sex and murder: they were brutal past times, but at least they gave people something to do.

An unexpected side effect of his new, strange status in Redstone was that Isidore suddenly had more free time than he’d had before. It wasn’t a welcome development. He has a master trader, the man who could get people things that worked in strange ways, surprising ways. He could help piece together a revenge or soothe an ache or shed a ray of light into darkness so complete it felt like being inside a cold, dead womb at times. He traded for what he needed, and he had enough spare parts set aside that he could afford to trade for Kyle as well. It took time to make all the things that people wanted, though, and that pleasantly occupied time had before now been the best part of his day. After coming to an accord with Rory, though…

“Hello, pet,” Pence purred as he suddenly appeared in their section of the hall. Kyle started, and the only reason Isidore didn’t jump was because he was welding something and had trained himself out of being surprised when he was holding the sort of heat that could melt metal. He turned his machine off and glared at Pence.

“What are you doing here?”

“I wished for a glimpse into the heart of the dragon, where you two darling boys have made your hearth and home!” he said with a smile. “I must say, it’s just as uncomfortable as advertised. How on earth do you stand the pull?”

“Willpower.” In reality, Isidore was so used to the way the iron tugged at his blood that he barely noticed it now. Kyle had so recently been in the tank that his body was still minimizing the side effects: the nausea, the headaches, the way the magnetism could make your skin crawl. Hopefully they’d be out of here by the time their surroundings really began to tell on him. “What do you want?”

“I came to deliver your offerings, of course.”

“What kind of offerings?” Kyle asked, trying not to show his sudden interest. What was occupation for Isidore wasn’t quite as entertaining for Kyle, who was a decent engineer but didn’t find inspiration in it.

“Pure and holy offerings of esteem and sacrifice, to the man who went to a one-on-one meeting with Rory and lived to tell the tale, little lamb,” Pence said, slinging a bag off of his shoulder and laying it out on the ground.

“Don’t be an asshole,” Isidore said with a sigh.

“I can be a dick too, if that’s more your style, love,” Pence said instantly. Kyle almost smiled, which delighted the interloper. “Aw, your lamb likes me, Isidore. Doesn’t his regard soften your heart toward me?”

“No, not really.” There was only one way this was going to end, though, and that was with Pence making his presentation. “Fine. Show me what you’ve brought.”

“First, let me just say how utterly horrifying it was to be hunted down by representatives from the biggest sides in our never-ending battle and told I was the perfect delivery boy,” Pence said, a frown coming to his ruddy face. “I didn’t think my favoritism was that blatant, but then I’m not good at ignoring beautiful things and you’ve not beaten me senseless yet, so I suppose people were bound to think we liked each other.”

“Which is wrong.”

“Oh darling, don’t play coy. You know I adore you,” Pence said brightly. “If I didn’t, I would just have kept all this wonderful supplies for myself. Yet here I am, laying it at your feet.”

“You would never have held onto it by yourself,” Isidore retorted. “You’d have been mugged in a matter of minutes if you hadn’t brought this stuff down to me.”

“Beloved, it’s all a matter of perspective; we’ll just have to agree to disagree,” Pence said. “Now, let’s survey your spoils, shall we? Food bars from Klia’s side of the fence—I hadn’t thought you did much business with her, she must really be desperate to get on your good side now,” he noted. “A bucket of water, pre-soaped from this morning’s ablutions courtesy of Rory. That was quite fucking heavy, by the way, my dove. It almost broke my back with its splish-splashing about.”

“Yet you persevered,” Isidore said dryly.

“Well, it’s rather a precious resource, isn’t it? I couldn’t very well spill it and let it go to waste. Speaking of spilling, there’s a canteen of drinking water in there was well, and some prodigious inventor even included a vial of what I can only suppose is…” Pence unscrewed the top of the medicine vial, took one sniff and promptly started coughing. “A bloody fucking paralytic,” he managed around his coughs. “Dear heart, take it before I spill it everywhere.”

Kyle got there before Isidore. He sniffed it, smiled, and then took a sip. Isidore could smell the pungent odor of the rotgut from five feet away; he could only imagine how absolutely foul it had to taste. “How can you possibly drink that?”

Kyle shrugged. “I went to prep school. Alcohol on site was forbidden, so we had to brew our own in secret. Meal bars were a good way to do it, actually, there’s lots of sugar in them. I got drunk off this stuff for the first time when I was fourteen.” He sipped again. “This is better than most of what I got back then, actually.”

“I never thought of prep school as such a dangerous place,” Pence said once he’d caught his breath. “Honestly, drinking that must be like getting kicked in the testicles, if your testicles reside in your throat. You’re a masochist of the first order, little lamb.” He cast a sly sidelong glance at Isidore. “My understanding of your preferences has just grown by leaps and bounds, petal. I’d let you hurt me if it truly made you happy.” He pointed at the half-full vial. “But not with that. Bind me, whip me, make me call you papa while you bugger me senseless, but leave that vile chemistry out of it.”

“Are you done?” Isidore demanded. “Because if that’s all, you can go.”

Pence frowned. “What, don’t I get a smidgeon of praise for bringing your gifts all this way? Can’t you spare me a soupçon of your regard and, possibly, your largesse for my efforts?”

“You can’t honestly tell me that you haven’t already lifted a meal bar or three from the stash you brought me.”

Pence grinned unrepentantly. “You know me so well, my dove! But only two, because I’m not a fool. Much more than that and someone would sniff me out. Still, I’d happily accept a kiss in exchange for my services.”

“You remind me of an old fairy tale,” Kyle said suddenly. “The frog prince. Only in this case you’re bringing your own golden ball to the princess and demanding that she take it in exchange for a kiss.”

“I like how you so easily cast your mentor in the role of princess. It speaks volumes about your level of comfort together,” Pence remarked. “And I think I’d rather be thought of as…Puss in Boots.”

Isidore wasn’t following, but whatever that meant made Kyle smile. “I can see that.”

“You’re a well-educated man,” Pence congratulated him before returning his attention to Isidore. “Now, darling. Please.”

Whether it was because Pence begged with such blatant insincerity, or because he could make Kyle grin, Isidore decided to be generous. Besides, it had been a long time since he’d seen this much water himself. “How about a hot bath?”

Pence’s eyes went wide. “Petal, don’t tease.”

“I’m serious. Faces, hands, underarms and groins only; this water has to last all three of us. And don’t even think about getting naked.”

“But you want me to very thoroughly clean my groin, don’t you?”

“Be as thorough as you like, just stay decent.” Isidore got his welding tool out and opened up the container of slightly gray water. A three-second blast should do it before too much of it went up in steam…he lowered the tip into the water, and then turned on the heat.

There was steam by the time he was done, thin, enticing tendrils floating off the top of the water, but almost none of the water was wasted. Pence and Kyle both moved in and dipped their fingertips simultaneously. Kyle seemed pleased, but the look of rapture on Pence’s face verged on orgasmic.

“Hot water,” he breathed. “I haven’t felt hot water since the last time I was forced into the showers. Two years ago now,” he added absently, missing or ignoring the look that Isidore and Kyle shared. “What bliss.”

Isidore sighed. Being nice probably wasn’t going to pay off in the long run, but he couldn’t help it. “You two go first. Don’t use it all.”

“Oh, darling.” The smile Pence turned on him was the most genuine expression he’d ever seen on the man. “You might have to tie me up to stop me, but I’ll try to be good. Thank you.”

Isidore nodded. “You’re welcome.”

Monday, November 9, 2015

Status Update

Because I don't update my website often enough... (this weekend, swear to god, it'll happen)

What the heck am I doing lately? When are my new releases coming out? What are they, even, and why am I so terrible at promo?

We'll just disregard that last question and move right along.

What I'm working on currently: Redstone, and am having to resist the temptation to jump ahead to the next story in the Bonded universe, which will go back to Cody and Ten and everyone, with a heavy side focus on Jonah. Make of that what you will.

Also, my NaNo project this year is the beginning of my next Samhain project, which is a complicated contemporary that I'm grappling with like the Nemean Lion. Fear not, I will skin this bitch and hang it's wordy carcass on my wall before deadline.


Upcoming releases: I've got a coauthored short story with Caitlin Ricci called Worth the Wait in this year's Dreamspinner Advent Calendar, available in December: Advent Calendar



The whole collection is on sale right now, so if you're interested, it's a good time to jump on it. Our story is sweet and feel-good and involves freezing your ass off in line in front of a bookstore to get what you want, a feeling I know I'm not alone in.

On January 13th my novella Dangerous Territory will be re-released through Less Than Three Press: Dangerous Territory



It's an m/m, alt history, shapeshifting adventure story that was originally published in Storm Moon Press' Forgotten Menagerie anthology, but has since been re-edited and given a beautiful new cover. I want to be up front: this is a re-release, folks, so if you read it in the original antho, don't expect anything drastically new here.

In February I've got Shadows and Light coming out with Pride Publishing, formerly Totally Bound. This is one that I first published on Literotica years ago, and has been edited to within an inch of its life, is getting beautiful cover art I can't show off yet, and released as a 70k novel. I'm pretty sure if you've read my stuff for years (which some of you have--crazy, I love you) you've read this one, but I'm pleased to be releasing it as a real, grown-up book. I mean, magical pseudo-vampires and BDSM. What's not to love?

In April Tempest comes out with Samhain, which is ridiculously exciting because they're an amazing company and this, honestly, is a pretty epic book. My longest publication to date, a dark fantasy that nevertheless pulls it out at the end, I'm so excited for this one. Cover soon! I also get to go to the Romantic Times conference in Vegas in April, so this is looking to be a good month.

Last thing I know for sure: Panopolis #3 will come out with Riptide in May. No cover or link yet (I'm still doing edits, pray for my soul) but I'm really, really happy with how this one came out. I think it'll surprise people. More info for you when I have it.

That's all I know, on the writing front. Personally, my honey and I are going to travel to Cambodia at some point next year to visit my darling MIL, who is working with the Peace Corps there. Japan this year, Cambodia next year: I know a lot of fucking awesome, travelsome people. I'm lucky to be able to go and visit them on their adventures.

So! My calendar for the forseeable future. ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Redstone Ch. 13, Pt. 2

Notes: Wyl and Robbie figuring stuff out! Go boys go. I'm trying to NaNo, trying to pack and move, trying to adjust to my new client load--I feel a kinship with our guys lately, what can I say? Anyway, enjoy, and please don't curse me out at the end, it had to be like this! I was too tired to keep writing!

Title: Redstone Chapter 13, Part 2.
 
***

Wyl was feeling…antsy. It was the kind of feeling he got right before he either did something crazy or something athletic, and unfortunately the only person he wanted to be athletic with right now was working another insanely long shift in the prison. Wyl could have gone out, but his tormentors seemed to be ever-present, and despite having ZeeBee with him Wyl wasn’t quite sure he felt safe enough to tempt fate. The chances were too good that one of these guys would make a wrong move and he’d respond badly, and end up getting himself or Robbie, or both of them, thrown into the Pit.

No, going out wasn’t the answer right now, and doing so would have worried Robbie anyway. Wyl felt like his brain was running in circles, though, considering the problems laid on him by Tamara and, therefore, by Garrett and wondering if he was going to be able to deliver. He always delivered, always, but this time he just wasn’t sure how to manage it.

It wasn’t the mechanism for getting into the office, or even cracking into Harrison’s private data files. Wyl was a mechanic at heart but he had the mind of a hacker, always upgrading his work with the latest and greatest electronics. He had figured out how to make a pocket-sized warp machine, for fuck’s sake. If he could bend space-time to his will, there was no way a little thing like a locking mechanism was stopping his device. (So what if the thing he’d sent through his little warp machine had never come back out, the point was that he’d done it.) He’d already put something together that cracked the coded entrance to his own room, and on the cryptographic interface he’d been fiddling with for his next personal hovercycle. No problems.

No, there were two problems. One was the issue of connecting with Tamara. This wasn’t just software, it was hardware, and as small as it was, he still had to find a way to physically hand it off to her. The warden was rigorous about keeping the various parts of his resident populations separate, and try as Wyl might, there were just too many layers of bureaucratic and metallic bullshit to cut through to get to Tamara’s part of the prison. He’d be stopped too easily, unless he figured out a way to take out everyone in a position of oversight and control, which was the next problem.

How did he clear the way for Tamara? It wasn’t enough to give her a device that would get her access; he had to make it so she could use it without being found out. There were no computer ports in this part of the facility with that kind of reach, and the best bet for erasing all signs of her coming and going—namely, Harrison’s computer—was exactly the place she had to get to unseen before being able to wipe all signs of herself. It was a classic chicken and egg scenario, and in this case neither of them was going to be coming first anytime soon.

“Okay, fine.” One problem at a time. Wyl got up and began pacing. It wasn’t riding a hovercycle at five hundred kilometers an hour, or making love to Robbie until he thought his bones were going to dissolve, but it was something to do with himself. “First issue: how do I meet up with Tamara. ZeeBee, ask me that question?”

“How do you meet up with Tamara?”

“It can’t be due to a blackout. Even if I could figure out how to take out all of the observers in this place, human and machine, I need to save that for her to use later. Once is an accident, twice is sabotage. Ask again.”

“How do you meet up with Tamara?”

Wyl rubbed his hands together as he thought about it, callouses catching on each other. “We need a reason to be in the same place. Somewhere we’re both allowed to be. Where in the prison can we both be? Ask me.”

“Where in the prison can you both be?”

“Well…the prisoner part of the prison. I guess. But that’s a bad choice.” Wyl shook his head. “The Pit’s out of the question. Ask again.”

“Where in the prison can you both be?”

“Hmm…emergency escapes routes, in case the prison has to be evacuated?” Wyl considered it, then huffed dejectedly. “But that’ll cause a panic and increase surveillance, not decrease it. Ask again.”

“Where in the prison can you both be?”

“Other emergency services…like…the infirmary.” Oh, yes. It suddenly clicked in Wyl’s head, and he grinned fiercely. “That’s it. We need to be in the infirmary at the same time. Small place like this, it probably has a central room we can interact in, or at the very least I can stow something for her there to pick up later. We need to be in the infirmary. I’m going to have to fake an injury.” He grimaced. “Or get a real injury. Fuck.” Well, maybe he could hurt himself with one of his tools. Only he needed it all to be above board, not the sort of thing that Warden Harrison could use as an excuse to come into their room and go through their belongings for. The last thing Wyl needed was that man finding the incredibly illegal equipment he’d smuggled in here. “Robbie’s not going to be happy.”

“Why won’t I be happy?”

“Holy shit!” Wyl whirled around and gaped at his husband. “How the fuck did you get in here so quietly?”

“You were talking to yourself,” Robbie pointed out with a little smile. He looked tired, the lines around his eyes and next to his mouth deeper than Wyl was used to seeing. The gray in his short hair that usually looked so distinguished seemed to make him look older now, uncomfortably so, and he moved like a man who felt every long year of his life. “You never pay much attention to anything else when you’re in the middle of a monologue.”

“I wasn’t monologuing, I was talking to ZeeBee,” Wyl said. “And you won’t be happy because,” and he didn’t want to bring the real reason up right now and see Robbie’s fatigue deepen, so instead, “I’m going crazy trying to figure out how to get Tamara into Harrison’s office without being seen, or heard, or interfered with in any way either before or after. I can give her the tools to wipe herself from the system once she’s in, but getting there in the first place?” He grimaced. “For all I know, Harrison sleeps at his fucking desk.”

“He might, he always seems to be around,” Robbie said absently. “He’s the reason I’m off early, actually, something about me having poor vital signs. I’m fine,” Robbie added when Wyl’s fingers twitched toward him, “just tired. But you’ve got a point.”

“I know.” Wyl ran a hand through his dark hair, frustrated with himself. “I don’t like Tamara being the one to do this, but if things go to hell she’s got a better chance of weathering it than I would if I were the one caught. Not to mention she doesn’t want me babying her. But I can’t figure out how to get past this hurdle, and if I can’t do it…” He shrugged helplessly.

Robbie sat down on their tiny couch and looked up at the ceiling for a moment. “We need it not to matter if Harrison sleeps at his desk,” he murmured. “We need it not to matter if someone’s in the observation room. We need to immobilize people where they stand.”

“Yeah, and if you’ve got a way of doing that then you’re smarter than I am, because I’ve been thinking about this for hours and I still have no fucking clue.”

“The gas. The gas that’s used on the prisoners.” Robbie picked his head up and smirked at Wyl. “We need to make it so the gas can circulate through the rest of the prison. The ventilation system can be controlled via the infirmary, from what I understand.”

Oh, for fuck’s sake… “You just figured that out? Right now?”

“Don’t feel too bad,” Robbie said, only slightly smug. “The guards talk about the gas system a lot. They really like getting to set it off. It leads to a lot of very creative betting, apparently.”

“Do you actually think we could get the gas into the rest of Redstone?”

Robbie shrugged. “This rock constantly recycles its air. They scrub it after a gassing, but then they put it right back into the main system again. I’m sure there’s a way to make it so that the scrubbers don’t turn on. We just have to make sure Tamara isn’t affected.”

“You are so smart,” Wyl said to him seriously. “You are smart and sexy and you might have just solved a major problem for all of us and I really want to suck your dick right now.”

Robbie blinked. “I feel like I should say something romantic, but I’m too tired to come up with anything better than ‘okay.’”

“That works for me,” Wyl said, and he dropped down to his knees and crawled over to the couch, only pausing to say, “ZeeBee, discrete mode.”

“Discretion activated.” The green glowstrip went dull and dark, and Wyl focused all his attention on Robbie, settling between his knees and pressing a kiss to the inside of his thigh. “Now…”

Robbie started to laugh. It was tired laughter, but it was genuine. “Oh my god, you’re serious.”

“I never joke about blowjobs.”

“I guess not.” He took Wyl’s hands in his and tugged him up until Wyl was straddled over his waist. “But if we do this here I’m going to fall asleep on the couch instead of our bed, and I don’t want that.”

Was Wyl hearing this right? “You’re…turning down my lips wrapped around your cock?”

Robbie kissed the side of his neck. “Only on the couch, baby. Let’s go to bed, then you can wrap your lips around my cock for as long as you want.”

“So romantic,” Wyl teased right back.

“I learned from the best,” Robbie told him.