So, a while ago (last week, or so) I ran a preorder contest, and one of the winners requested that I give her a little follow up to Love Letters. I finally complied, and she said I could share it, so! Story snippet for you!
A heavy, hardback copy of Codes, Ciphers and Secrets: The Spycraft of the American Revolution lay on the bedside table, almost but not quite knocked off of it during its author’s rather energetic celebration of the news that the book had hit number one on the New York Times bestseller’s list. The bed wasn’t shaking any more, and the lights were out, but the silence was still punctuated with soft conversation and the murmur of bodies shifting under blankets, moving against each other with gentle acceptance that they belonged close enough to touch.
“Seriously, congratulations,” Ryan said again, pressing his lips to the side of Ben’s neck. Ben tilted his chin up a bit, and his lover slotted his head into the proffered space with ease.
Ben wanted to shrug, but he couldn’t with Ryan lying on top of him. “I think it was more a matter of timing than anything else.” The History Channel had just run a miniseries on the same topic, and they’d invited Ben to be interviewed for it. He was, Ryan and Heather had assured him, ridiculously hot during his five minutes of fame. Mostly Ben had felt awkward, but—hey, whatever worked.
“That helped, sure, but the book is great. You make the subject fun.”
“Spies are always fun.”
“Not unless they look like Tom Cruise.” Ryan laughed suddenly. “You know Linda is trying to pitch your book as a potential movie, right? What if he got the lead role?”
“Linda is crazy.” Ben loved her, but she was crazy. “There’s no single main character in the book, if you don’t count George Washington. It’s a history, not a thriller—there’s no way to cast anyone because there’s no leading role for any one person to play.”
“I know, I know, but…”
Ryan’s voice was weirdly tentative, which Ben hated to hear. “But what?”
“But maybe…you should consider turning it into a novel. Or a part of it, at least. What about the Culper Ring? Or Lydia Darragh?”
“Lydia Darragh’s story isn’t well substantiated,” Ben said automatically, but his mind was already turning the idea over. The truth was, it was a thought Ben had had before, to take some of his extensive research and turn it into something more approachable, more focused on human relationships. He’d actually written a few chapters of a story about Avery Toth and Charles Lancaster, but the idea of writing a romance that was destined to end in tragedy had made him put it aside. It was just too sad. He might be able to handle things like that when they were from real life, but more and more Ben found that if he was reading for pleasure, he wanted a happy ending.
“Not her, then, but someone like her. Or you could make up a new character altogether, a spy and patriot working for Washington against the British and having all sorts of daring adventures and narrow escapes.” Ryan picked up speed as he got into the idea. “There are so many ways you could go with this, and think of the supporting cast! And the tricks and methods you’d get to put in there, and it could all be so historically accurate that even the loudest critics couldn’t deny it. It would be so much fun.”
“It probably would be.”
“You should think about it. Just…something to consider.”
“Or,” Ben offered, “maybe we should think about it together and then collaborate on the writing.” Ryan was on the sixteenth volume of Janie and the Phantom now, and while he still enjoyed the story, Ben knew that the sameness of Ryan’s work was starting to get to him. “You have more experience as a storyteller, after all.”
Ryan sat up and looked at Ben, his dark blue eyes wide. “Are you serious? You’d actually want to work together with me on something?”
“Of course.” In fact, the more he thought about it… “We can talk it out when we’re in Hawaii.”
“We’re going to Hawaii?”
“Linda promised you, remember? If this book made the list, she’d send us on vacation there. Now you get to collect, and we get to go somewhere warm in the middle of winter.” And maybe Ben could finally ask the question he’d been meaning to ask for the past year, too. He thought of the little box in the back of his desk drawer and was grateful it was dark, because he knew he was blushing.
“Wow.” Ryan’s grin was brilliant. “Great news, a new project, and the promise of a vacation, all in one day? This is gonna be hard to top for, like, the rest of my life.” He leaned down and kissed Ben, and his mind went from rings in boxes to the man in his arms with barely a skip.
The book fell to the floor a few minutes later. Neither man noticed.