Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Love Letters Post #19


Notes: And now…the happy reunion.  This post is R-rated, my sweets, don’t like, don’t read.  Then again, this is an erotica blog.  What are you doing here if you don’t like happy reunions?  And hey, Bostonians! (looking at you, luz)  I need advice on a good bar close to their part of the city.  Not far from the Brighton campus of Boston College, on Strathmore Road.  Bar?  Plz thnk u!

Title: Love Letters


Part Nineteen:  Time Honored Hazing Rituals Pt. 1





The trip to the third floor took a little longer than Ben had anticipated, because Ryan stopped on every landing to turn around and check that he was still there, despite the fact that he was holding on to Ben’s free hand.  The second time he did it Ben said, “Good thing you’re not Orpheus or I’d be on my way back to the underworld right now.”

Ryan grinned and kissed him again.  “Would that make you my Euridyce?  What was she anyway, some kind of nymph?”  Ryan looked him up and down.  “You’re hot, but you’re not exactly a nymph.”

“No,” Ben agreed.  “Not quite.  There’s the whole issue of me being male, for starters.”

Ryan tilted his head as he opened the door, questioning.  “There were no male nymphs?”

“I don’t think so.”

“What about Narcissus?”

“Totally human, just the victim of his own gratuitous self-awareness.”  Ryan led the way into the apartment and Ben followed, looking around with interest.  It was…so much different than his place.  The walls were each painted a different color, the large mirror over the battered red couch in the living room was sepia-toned and set in a frame made out of rusted saw blades, and there was art everywhere.  Some of it was obviously Ryan’s, paintings done in his style with dramatic shifts in tone and shape, others were famous prints or pieces that Ben just didn’t recognize.  In the corner was a plaster sculpture of a Dali-esque elephant, almost six feet tall on its spindly legs.  It had a jacket thrown over the top of it, and all Ben could see of its head was an ear.  The air was filled with the scent of frying onions and garlic, and it smelled warm and delicious.  He set his bag down next to the door and just stared, trying to take all of it in. 

His brain came back online when Ryan asked, “What about…oh, who was that one, he was Apollo’s lover and a jealous god killed him and so Apollo made him a flower?”

Oh, right.  Their conversation.  Ben thought for a moment.  “That was Hyacinth.  No, he was just another pretty boy, not a nymph.”

“What the hell?” a new voice demanded.  “Nymphs?  Is that what a girl got to do to get an introduction around here, Ryan, run around wearing nothing but a few fig leaves?”  She moved into the middle of the room, and promptly took up the entire space with the force of her presence. 

She was tall for a woman, at least as tall as Ryan, and had a broad, curvy figure that suited her wide shoulders and hips.  She had caramel colored skin and hair in tight, tiny braids hanging halfway down her back.  The combination of a perfect bow of a mouth and a pierced Romanesque nose gave her not beautiful, but statuesque features.  She wore bright red pants, a low-cut black top and a set of jewelry made from carved wooden beads.  Her face was caught somewhere between surprise and wary welcome, and Ben couldn’t blame her for being wary.

“Not unless you really want to,” Ryan teased her, oblivious to the stare-off between the two of them.  “Ben, this is Jasmine Napuna, she’s my publisher and my publicist and my editor and my roommate and my life coordinator…basically everything except my you.  Jasmine, this is Ben DeWitt, my boyfriend.”  Ben had expected Ryan to call him that, but it still felt stupidly good to hear him say it.

They shook hands.  She had a very firm grip.  It wasn’t quite like meeting a parent, but close enough that Ben had to fight to keep a blush off his face.  “It’s very nice to meet you,” he told her. 

“You too,” she said, keeping hold of his hand past where it would have been normal to let go.  “Wow, Ben in the flesh.  I was starting to wonder if maybe you weren’t a computer program that Ryan had set up to text him back at all hours.”

“What?”  Ryan threw his hands out, mock-offended.  “Because I couldn’t get a boyfriend, is that what you’re saying?”

Jasmine rolled her eyes.  “I know you could get one of those, they’re a dime a dozen.  No, because no one could possibly be as perfect as Ben,” she said, batting her eyelashes and finally letting go of Ben’s hand. 

“Really, you’re all he talks about,” she continued, looking Ben over.  “If you’re half as amazing as he says you are, I expect rainbow to fly out of your butt at any minute.”

Ryan punched her in the shoulder.  “God, would you shut up?”  He looked embarrassed now, so Ben stepped in.

“Oh yeah.  Rainbows, four leaf clovers, pots of gold; my ass is like one big lucky charm, but the only one who gets to see it is Ryan, so you’re out of luck, I’m afraid.”

Jasmine looked a little taken aback for a moment, then grinned.  “I guess I can live with that.”  She turned to Ryan and punched him back.  “And you worried that we wouldn’t get along.” 

“I wasn’t worried,” Ryan scoffed, but neither Ben nor Jasmine believed him. 

“How long are you staying?” Jasmine asked Ben.

“Probably about a week.”  Ben was aware that while Ryan was very happy to see him, the man had roommates who might not care for his unannounced company, especially not for long.  “It’s not entirely a social visit; I’ve got research to do as well.  I won’t be in the way.”

“You wouldn’t be in the way no matter what,” Ryan said earnestly, and Ben smiled at him.  It was…nice, and kind of novel, to feel so wanted.  Even when he’d been living on his own and came back to visit his mother and grandfather, he hadn’t wanted to stay in the house.  It had just seemed…intrusive.  Awkward. 

Jasmine just shrugged.  “You don’t have to explain it to me, I’m glad you’re here.  This one’s been pining for you.”


“Seriously, you should ask to see the painting he’s working on right now.”


She turned and headed back into the kitchen.  “I’m making red rice and chicken for dinner, it’ll be done in another hour or so.  I’m sure Ryan wants to give you the five-cent tour, so come out whenever you guys get hungry and we’ll eat, and then we’ll go meet Lennie and Grant at the bar.”

“Are you sure there’s enough food for a third person?” Ben asked.  “I can always find something else…”

Jasmine came back to the kitchen door, arms folded.  “Does it look like anyone in my house goes hungry?  There’s always enough.”

“It’s true,” Ryan said.  “She always makes more than we can eat.  The fridge is full of leftovers.”

“I don’t hear you complaining.”

“Because I would never dare,” Ryan said solemnly, tugging as Ben’s wrist as he stepped backward.  “Come on.  Tour.”

Ben followed Ryan around the apartment as he pointed things out hurriedly.  “Living room, dining room, you know where the kitchen is, Lennie and Grant’s bedroom, their bathroom, Jasmine’s bedroom, the laundry nook, here’s the bathroom she and I share, this is the bedroom I made into my studio, and here,” Ryan pushed Ben through a bright blue door and shut it behind them, “is my bedroom.”

It was, somehow, even more colorful than the rest of the house.  There was no such thing as a neutral tone in Ryan’s life.  His bedspread was purple, the curtains were a black and red chessboard pattern, and the walls were barely visible under the vast number of pictures that were hung or pinned on them.  The effect was a little discordant for someone used to plain white with the occasional period portrait or demure landscape, but Ben was sure he’d get used to it.

He started to turn to say something to Ryan—what he wasn’t sure—but instead he was tackled down onto the double bed.  Ryan straddled his hips and grinned manically.  His enthusiasm was catching and Ben grinned back, then groaned when Ryan ground down against him.

“You’re in my room,” Ryan said, leaning in and kissing Ben’s cheek, trailing over to his ear and catching Ben’s earlobe between his teeth for a moment.  “In my bed.”  He nipped and nibbled his way down Ben’s neck, only stopping once he reached the collar of Ben’s shirt.  “I’ve pictured you here so many times.  This is way better, except in my mind,” he pressed his palm against the front of Ben’s pants, rubbing his growing erection, “you were always naked.”

“I can do naked,” Ben promised.  “But you have to get up first.”

“That is a conundrum,” Ryan said, starting in on the buttons on Ben’s shirt.  “Because I really don’t want to get up.  God, why do you wear such complicated clothes?  I mean, I love you in them, but it takes for fucking ever to get them off—”

“Stand up,” Ben said.  Ryan looked up at him and pouted.  “No, really.  Trust me.”  Ryan sighed but backed off and let Ben up.  He stood, dropped his coat to the floor, pulled his button-down over his head and kicked off his slacks in under ten seconds.  “Better?” he asked, flopping back onto the very comfortable bed.

“Wow, yeah…”

Ben ran his palm lightly against the outline of his cock, still trapped inside his cotton briefs.  He wasn’t given to being wanton, to making a display out of his sexuality, but somehow being with Ryan knocked out a lot of Ben’s natural inhibitions.  “Now who’s the one holding things up?” he asked.

Ryan flung his clothes off and crawled back onto the bed, stopping at Ben’s waist to wrap one arm around his hips while the other slowly pulled down the edge of his briefs, every millimeter of skin at Ryan’s mercy as he nuzzled and licked.  Ben’s breathing got shallower and shallower, and when Ryan finally put his lips on the warm skin of Ben’s cock Ben had to stop breathing for a moment, because he was only human and he hadn’t been touched by anyone other than himself for the past month, and oh god, this was Ryan licking the head of his cock, desperate noises emerging from his throat as he didn’t slow down, taking Ben into his mouth and down, way faster than Ben had been expecting.

“Ryan…”  Ben’s voice trailed off when Ryan’s hot hand slipped behind his balls, his thumb rubbing lightly over the sensitive skin there.  The briefs were in the way now and Ben wiggled until they were off, gone, out of the way, what a completely unnecessary piece of clothing anyway.  Ryan sucked as he lifted up, then relaxed and took Ben almost all the way in on the way down.  He hummed and touched and licked and Ben was going to lose it, he absolutely was, and there was almost nothing he wanted more than to give in and give Ryan what they both wanted right now, but first…

It might have been strange, but Ben wanted more.  Or at least, different, for their first time back together.  Seeing Ryan’s mouth circling his cock was amazing, but he wanted to see his eyes, wanted to kiss him again, wanted some part of him to hold onto.  “Wait,” he stammered, “wait, come up here, Ryan…baby, come up here.” 

Ryan whined but he did it, leaving Ben’s cock with a pop and moving eagerly into Ben’s arms, latching onto his mouth immediately.  Ben pulled Ryan tight against him and oh, fuck, Ryan was slick, his own cock rigidly hard and wet with a smear of precome.  Ryan rutted against him, tight, tiny thrusts that rubbed their cocks together in just the right way, and fuck, Ben wasn’t going to have to use his hand, he wasn’t going to have to do anything, he couldn’t.  All he could do was moan into Ryan’s mouth and come helplessly, arching and wrapping his legs around Ryan’s ass, eliciting a gasp and another flood of heat between them as Ryan joined him.

They didn’t move for a long time, just held each other and tried to catch their breath.  Ryan had his face buried in the crook of Ben neck, his arms tight around his chest.  Ben let his legs fall down but kept petting Ryan, unwilling to let go even to suggest they maybe take a shower and change before they got stuck together.  Change…oh.

“My bag.”


“I left it in the living room.  It’s got all my clothes in it.”

“Clothes ‘r dumb,” Ryan said contentedly, wiggling even closer.  “Don’t need ‘em.”

“Jasmine probably won’t agree.”

“Whatever, she thinks you’re hot.  But you’re mine, so ha!”  He sounded utterly gleeful, and Ben had to kiss him for it.  One kiss turned into two, then more, many, lots, and they lost some more time in each other. 

“I’ll get them in a minute,” Ryan promised when they paused for a moment.  He looked gorgeous, his lips kiss swollen, pupils dilated, hair so messy it added three inches to his height.  Adorable.  Perfect.  Like he didn’t want to be anywhere else, like he belonged in Ben’s arms.

Which he did.

“There’s no rush,” Ben said. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Release: Out in Colorado!

Holy shit, I almost let another new release pass me by.  The Out in Colorado anthology consists of six stories written by Colorado m/m authors (we're working on branching out, though), all set in Colorado, and I'm one of those authors.  We wanted to have something to pimp at Denver PrideFest this year and now we do!  And nooo, of course I didn't model one of my characters on my husband--what, honey?  Nooo, baby, don't worry!  No one would know even if I did!

Except all of you...

Okay, so maybe by reading my story you'll learn a little more about my personal life than you might otherwise, but the resemblance isn't too deep.  My story is called Casual Brilliance, is set right here in beautiful Boulder Colorado, and is full of things that you're going to think are gross generalizations and/or cliches: they aren't.  The biking, the pot, the snow, the spectacle--this is Boulder, people!  Come and visit it if you don't believe me, I just got back from the Pearl Street Mall and in the space of four blocks I saw five violinists, two magicians, a contortionist, an old couple playing bluegrass, a man who set his own pants on fire while solving a Rubic's cube (highly amusing), and a plethora of bohemian panhandlers.  And that's nothing compared to the chaos of Memorial Day weekend, when 60,000 people are expected to run the 10k Bolder Boulder on Monday.

At any rate, if you're interested in Colorado, there are stories from a wide variety of authors in different locations, with different themes and different genres.  Colorado is the only thing they all have in common.  Below is an excerpt from mine: enjoy, darlins!

PS, if you're going to be in Denver for Pride, come find us!  The 16th is my birthday and I want to celebrate with as many people as possible!

PPS, oh hey, wow, I just remembered that I named my main character after my sister's boyfriend.  I had some issues while writing this story, clearly, folks.  Still good, though:)

Casual Brilliance
By Cari Z

Joey Graham was suspicious of the package even before he opened it.  It was small, brightly wrapped and had a bow on one bulbous end, which for his family was a sure sign it was something he wasn’t going to like.   Presents wrapped in last week’s Sunday comics were good; presents that sparkled were nothing but a lure.  He split the wrapping paper along the seam, tipped the small glass pipe out into his hand and turned to glare at his sister.  “Oh c’mon.  Really?”

“What?  What, it’s legal there now, right?”  Carla looked way too pleased with herself.  “You can totally get away with it!”

“Maybe if I was a ski bum,” Joey said, “but I’m going to be working in a federal research lab.  I kind of doubt that they’d be so understanding of me getting high.”

“They don’t have to know,” Carla said coaxingly.  “Just get baked on the weekends.”

“Or not at all.”

She frowned, looking like a toddler on the edge of a tantrum.  “Well if you’re not going to use it, I’ll take it back—”

Their mother smacked Carla’s reaching hand.  “There are no take-backs at Christmas.  And it’s just a gag gift, of course,” she added, looking expectantly at her daughter.  Carla shrugged and rubbed her hand, radiating righteous hurt.  “Oh stop it, those eyes don’t work on me.”  She turned back to her son.  “I still don’t really understand why they hired you so late; you applied in May,” she fretted.

“I think they had a problem with their last postdoc,” Joey said, putting the little pipe on top of the rest of his Christmas gifts.  He’d gotten a Denver guidebook from his mother, an REI gift certificate from his uncle, and a pair of plastic snowshoes from his grandmother.  Hopefully those were something he would never have to use. 

“So you’re better than nothing,” his sister said with a shrug.  “I get it.”

“Carla!”  His mother looked as angry as a small, round woman with frizzy blond hair and a perpetually sunny disposition could look, which wasn’t very angry at all.  “Go and get a trash bag for all the paper, please.” 
Carla rolled her eyes but got to her feet, and his mother turned back to Joey.  “I just think it’s a bit inconvenient,” she sighed.  “I mean, I can’t get time off work to go help you move in—”

“I’ve got it taken care of,” Joey assured his mother quickly; Jesus, the last thing he needed was his mom coming with him to his first real job.  “The U-Haul is all packed up, I’ve got an apartment waiting for me, I’m good, Mom.  You know I am.”

“I know, but January is a terrible time to be in Colorado, isn’t it?  Won’t it be snowy?”

“This is Chicago, Mom,” Joey pointed out. “It’s not like I’m moving there from Florida.  I can handle some snow.”

“He can ski from place to place once he gets there,” Carla called from the kitchen.  “Or snowboard.  Don’t they mostly snowboard there?  You could hitch up to the back of someone’s ATV!  Or...” She poked her head around the door. “You could get a snowmobile!  I bet they’re street legal there during the winter.”
“Snowmobiles are death traps!” their mother scolded.  “Remember what happened to Cousin Art!”

“Mom, Art was a dumbass who got drunk and drove his snowmobile into a lake.  It was totally his own 
fault.  Besides, they found him.”

“Not before he lost toes to hypothermia,” their mother replied.  “Which would never have happened if he hadn’t been on a snowmobile in the first place.  Honey,” she said as she turned to look at Joey, “whatever you do, promise me you won’t drive a snowmobile drunk.  Or an ATV.  Or any sort of moving vehicle.”

Of all the things he had never expected to come out of his mother’s mouth… “I promise,” Joey said solemnly.

“And promise not to become a tree-hugging, granola-eating hippie either,” Carla said, coming back in with a trash bag and three cups of coffee.  She handed them around and sat back down on the couch.  “Isn’t Boulder, like, the most liberal town in the US?”

“I think that’s Berkeley, actually.”

“They do have a Catholic church there, don’t they?” his mother asked worriedly. 

“They have plenty of churches,” Joey sighed.  He’d checked when he went for his interview, because he’d known his mother would ask.  “Mom, moving to Boulder isn’t suddenly going to turn me into a stoner, or an atheist, or a drunk-driving snowmobiler.  It’s a nice town, and NIST is a great place to do my postdoc.  I’m lucky to be going there.”

“I suppose,” his mother allowed.  “I just wish you were a little closer to home, that’s all.”

“I know you do,” Joey said with a little smile.  He wasn’t about to tell her that the distance was one of the major selling points for him, after living in Illinois his whole life.

“When do you leave again?” Carla asked.

“Tomorrow.  I start there on the second.”

“Well,” his mother sighed.  “At least you got to spend Christmas with family.”


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Love Letters Post #18


Notes: On to happier times!  I’m having fun with this one.  I have to ask, though—has anyone reading ever been to a Red Sox game in Boston?  If so, care to email me and give me some atmosphere for the next post?  I always like getting first-hand accounts of the memorable things.

Also, on a different note, Changing Worlds is up for consideration as one of the Goodreads m/m group’s books of the month for June.  It would be lovely if it were chosenJ  If you’re a member and care to vote, here’s the link: http://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/84404-which-of-these-new-releases-from-storm-moon-press-would-you-like-chosen


Title: Love Letters


Part Eighteen:  Much Ado About Something





The hardest part of this whole experience was actually getting on the plane.  Writing up the proposal and sending it off to Linda in under two hours, buying the ticket, even packing up his bag—all of that was easy compared to the nerves that shot through Ben the moment he stepped into the airport.  He was flying across the country to see his probably-boyfriend, whom he hadn’t even told he was going to see, and he had no back-up plan ready for if it went bad: no hotel reservation, no rental car, no ready excuse…well, no, Ben had a good reason for being in Boston that had nothing to do with Ryan.  But that, as Heather had emphasized to him, wasn’t the point.  The point was he was going to surprise his boyfriend and make him very, very happy.

“Don’t puss out,” Heather told him before she left his house in the morning.  She’d ended up spending the night again, the two of them sharing the bed this time.  It was warm, friendly and completely platonic, and reminded Ben just how badly he wanted to share a bed with someone who curled up next to him during the night.  “Just do it.”

“Why shouldn’t I tell him that I’m coming, though?” Ben asked for what felt like the fifteenth time.  “So he can let me know if now is a good time?”

“Because the whole point is to be romantic!  Spontaneous!  To do something that shocks and awes him, not something that might make him wonder if you really want to even be there or not.  Don’t check in.  Do not,” she warned, heading for the door.  “Just do, there is no do not.”

“I didn’t know you liked Star Wars.”

“Bite your wicked tongue!” Heather exclaimed before slamming the door shut.

Heather’s encouragement helped, it definitely did.  Ben made it to the airport, got through security and was all the way down the concourse waiting for his flight when his nerves overtook him again.  Not having many other options, he called Michael.  “Tell me this is the right thing to do,” Ben demanded.

“Well, that depends.  What are you doing?”

“I’m taking a surprise trip to Boston.”

“What, to see Ryan?”  Michael’s voice instantly rose an octave.  “That’s great!  Good for you, I’m glad you’re taking the initiative…actually, wait, who’s idea was this really?”

“It was my idea,” Ben said, stung.  Then, compelled to be truthful, he added, “But Heather talked me into it.”

“Of course she did, good for her.  Ben, take a breath.  Relax.  Where are you?”

“The airport.”

“You made it all the way to the airport and you’re just calling me now?”  Michael whistled.  “That’s even better than I thought.  Look, you don’t need to talk to me about this, you’re fine.  You know Ryan’s going to love it.”

“Even the surprise part of it?” Ben asked.  That was the hardest part, really; it wasn’t that he didn’t want to see Ryan, or that they hadn’t talked about him making a trip to Boston.  It was the idea that he might be doing something to inconvenience the other man.

“Especially the surprise part of it.  Ryan’s a pantser, not a planner, so he’s definitely going to appreciate this.  You’re fine.”

“Right.  I’m fine.”  And Ben did feel better now, actually.  “Thanks.”

“What are friends for?  Have fun banging your boy.”  Michael hung up before Ben could tell him to fuck off.

It was a four hour flight to Boston and Ben spent most of it on his computer, working to flesh out his new book proposal and identify resources he could seek out once he got there.  Ben hadn’t been kidding Linda when he told her this trip was for research; Boston had some excellent libraries and Revolutionary-era document archives, and Ben always preferred to get his references straight from the source rather than secondhand.  Plus, if his timing was inconvenient for Ryan, he’d have an reason to make himself scarce. 

Ryan lived in an apartment on Strathmore Road, not far from Boston College.  Ben took a cab there and made an effort at small talk with the driver; anything to distract him from the butterflies in his stomach. 

“First time in Boston?” the man asked.  He wore a Red Sox cap and had a quintessential Bostonian accent, with broad “a”s and dropped “r”s.  Ben prompted him just enough to get the guy waxing poetic over his baseball team, and then let the shibboleths roll over him.  Ben had dated a linguist for a brief period of time, and the Boston accent (or Eastern New England dialect, as his date had put it) had been one of the man’s favorites.

“You’ve gotta make time for a game while you’re here,” the cabbie continued as he pulled in in front of Ryan’s building.  “They’re playing the damn Yankees on Wednesday, that’s the one to go see.”

“I’d really like to, actually,” Ben said, remembering how he wanted to take Ryan to a major league game.  “Where can I get tickets?”

“There’s these sites online, but that’s a sucker’s game.  You want tickets?”  The cabbie scrawled a number on a piece of paper and handed it back to him.  “This is my cousin Eddie’s number, he’s got a line of some real good seats and he can get ‘em cheaper than anyone else.  You give him a call in the next day or two and he’ll hook you up.  Tell him Rory sent you.”

Ben took the paper.  “I appreciate it.”  He handed over cash for the ride, along with a generous tip, and Rory gave him a grin.

“Enjoy your time in Boston, buddy.”

“I will, thank you.”  Ben grabbed his carry-on, got out of the cab and stared up at the three-story red brick building in front of him.  187 Strathmore Road.  Time to call Ryan.  Ben fished his phone out of his pocket and tried to ignore the way his hand was shaking a little.  He dialed Ryan’s number and waited.

Ryan picked up almost immediately.  “Hi!” he said.  “Wow, an actual call, what’s the occasion?”

“I can’t just want to hear your voice?” Ben teased, relaxing as soon as they started talking.

“Of course you can.  Do you really?”

“Yeah, that’s part of it,” Ben said.

“Just part of it?  What’s the rest of it?”

“Well…so, I came up with a book proposal.  One that I actually like.”

“That’s great!”  Ryan knew how agonizing the last month had been for Ben.  “What’s it about?”

“Broadly speaking…love letters.”  Ben went on before Ryan could say anything.  “Did you know that the Boston Public Library has one of the best letters collections from the Revolutionary War in the entire country?”

“Oh yeah?”  There was an edge of hope in Ryan’s voice now, and it stabbed straight through Ben’s chest.  Why had he taken so long to get out here?  The thought that Ryan was practically close enough to touch right now was making his heart beat faster, and he shut his eyes for a second to help him get it together.  “Are you planning a trip here, then?”

“I’ve already planned it, actually.”

“Omigod, really?  That’s great!  When are you coming out?”

“Well…how’s right now work out for you?”

There was complete silence on the other end of the phone for a second, then—“Holy shit, are you serious?  You’re here, where are you?  Are you at the airport?  Don’t leave, I’ll come meet you there, I’ll—shit, where the hell are my socks—”

“Baby,” Ben laughed, “calm down.  I’m right outside your building.”

What?!  There was a sudden clatter, then a window on the top floor was slammed open.  There was Ryan, staring down at Ben like he couldn’t quite believe his eyes.  Ben pocketed his phone and waved.


Ryan’s mouth worked silently for a moment, and then he vanished from the window without saying a word.  Thirty seconds later he burst through the front door of the building, barefoot and definitely not dressed warmly enough for the day, jumped down the three stairs leading down to the street and leapt into Ben’s arms.  Ben had time to brace himself enough to keep them from falling over, but that almost changed when Ryan picked up his legs and wrapped them around Ben’s waist.  He let go of the carry-on’s handle and held onto Ryan as hard as he could.

For almost a minute neither of them said anything, they just stood there wrapped up in each other and ignoring the world, but Ben’s arms started getting tired and he reluctantly loosened his grip, just enough to set Ryan back down onto the ground.  “So,” he said lightly, “I take it you’re glad to see—”

Then he couldn’t speak anymore, because Ryan was kissing him a ferocity and devotion that consumed Ben completely, unable to think or move or do anything except focus all his attention on what was happening right now, on the warmth and softness of Ryan’s mouth, the feel of his back under Ben’s hands and the growing hardness of his groin pressed against Ben’s.  Ben kissed him back, over and over, unable to get enough of Ryan now that they were together again.

They finally eased apart to take a breath, and Ryan cupped Ben’s face with his hands and just stared at him, peppering his mouth with little kisses.  Ben smoothed his palms over Ryan’s sides, calming, affirming the fact that he really was here, and he wasn’t going anywhere.  “Hi,” he said again.

“Hi,” Ryan breathed, then kissed him again. 

“You look chilly.”  There were goosebumps rising on his bare arms.

“I’m fine, I’m awesome,” Ryan assured Ben.  “You’re, wow, you’re here.”

“Yeah.  Is now okay?”

“Now is completely amazing,” Ryan said.  He sounded a little dazed.  “There’s no bad time for you to be here, I would…seriously, you could come here anytime and it would be perfect.  Just, man, this is so…how long are you going to stay?”

“I actually haven’t booked a return flight yet,” Ben admitted.  “I don’t know how long my research is going to take, or what your plans were.”

“I don’t have any plans,” Ryan assured him, then frowned.  “Wait, not true, I’m actually on a deadline, I’ve got panels to finish and some storyboarding to do for the next issue.”

“I figured you’d have to work,” Ben said.  “If it’s not convenient I can find a hotel.”

He barely got the last word out before Ryan was kissing him again.  “If you think-” kiss “for one second-” kiss “that I’m letting you sleep anywhere except with me-” kiss-kiss “you are completely delusional.  I can work with you around, and you’ve got stuff to do, I get that.  I just don’t want to give up any time I could spend with you if I don’t have to.”

“That’s convenient,” Ben told him.  “Because the feeling’s mutual.” 

They kissed again, and it might have gone on longer if someone hadn’t yelled, “Hey!  Quit fucking in the street, guys, get the hell up here!”

“Aaand there’s Jasmine,” Ryan said with a sigh.  “And she won’t stop until we give in.  Are you ready for introductions?  You’re going to get grilled, I’m warning you.”

“I figured as much.”  Ben could handle tough questions.  He picked up his carry-on and gestured toward the door.  “Lead on.”

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness

Soooo...I saw this last night.

Before I get started, let me say I was never a big Star Trek fan.  And in this movie are references that, for those of us who are oblivious to the original series, we will miss entirely.  Apparently they're meaningful for people who know what to look for, but for me not so much.  That being said, I appreciate the fact that I didn't have to know what the moments of tribute were to enjoy pretty much every part of this movie.

First of all, Mr. Cumberbatch?  Khan?  Whatever you want to be called, if I could please have your voice and use it to lull me into deep, dreamy sleeps at night, I'd really appreciate it.  Seriously, one of the best speaking voices I've ever heard.  You barely sound real, you sound so good.  And accompanied by an incredible ability at ass-kicking just makes me like you more.

Secondly, Enterprise crew?  Aww, you all stayed together!  You're all so lovely!  And there are plenty of moments of hilarity interspersed with the angst and thrills, so if you want a little bit of everything out of a movie this is a good stop for you.

Thirdly, I don't know what the coming attractions are everywhere, but Joss Whedon has remade and modernized Much Ado About Nothing, one of my favorite Shakespeare plays.  He's cast Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg, among others.  This is something I've just got to see.

And lastly, goddammit, you guys killed one of my favorite people!  He doesn't have the biggest role in either of the Star Trek movies but I loved him, and you killed him.  I know you needed a device for future "moments", but come on!!!

Okay, done now.  Go see it.  Huge fun.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Get Full Credit For Being Alive (LHNB)

It's Done!  Turned in, I can't touch it any more, fina-freakin-ly.  If all goes well I'll make a version of it available to everyone as soon as the original is posted to the Goodreads group.  Hopefully with a cool cover as well.  Thank you so much to the people who read and commented and helped me make this coherent, I appreciate you more than you know.

The story is called You Get Full Credit For Being Alive, and will be released sometime between June and July.  It's told from the perspective of a retired hit man who finds a dying cop behind his house and chooses to save his life.  There are guns, disguises, hurt/comfort, angry Quebecois women, intensive therapy, bad carpentry and even some sex in the mix:)  I posted the beginning last month on the blog if you're interested: LHNB story.

I'm so happy to have this done.  I've got a lot of writing to do, some of it even the kind that pays, and yet I can't resist doing free fiction.  Some people do it to get their name out there, some people do it because they're bored; I do it mostly because I love my readers and also, I can't resist a good prompt.  I'm a prompt junkie, just ask my readerwife.  Full Credit is almost 40k words long, over a hundred pages.  Again, sooo happy it's done.  Now I can concentrate on episode 5 of Cambion, and on more Love Letters, of course.

Pictures that inspired me along the way:

the original, obviously awesome

I found a couple of guys to use as mental models as well:

Justin, my assassin/savior

Shawn, my cop/survivor

Because they're both hot and cute, holy shit.  Anyway!  I'm just rambling now, sorry, it's late and I'm all...whoa.  Yeah.  Sleep well, darlins.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Love Letters Post #17

Notes: Grr, arg, freaking blogger!  The text message that has been bothering me and so many other people, fuck it—here’s a picture of it.

It's a heart.  I heart u.  Love, not HTML, but Blogger doesn't respect that.

Enjoy the next part of the story, guys.


Title: Love Letters


Part Seventeen:  Love Is The Answer




March was destined to be a hard month.  Ben knew that going into it.  He had a lot of work to do and no idea what he was supposed to be doing it on, which meant fishing for inspiration.  He reread the contents of his grandfather’s library, skimming over titles he had no interest in and delving into anything even vaguely epistolary.  Ben knew that he’d set a standard, he knew certain things were expected of him by the majority of his readers and he didn’t mind playing to that.  He wouldn’t be able to put up with Linda otherwise.  But it all felt so…so dry.

Ben read letters between brothers, letters between friends; he even broke down and found a collection of letters related to spying from the Clements Library and perused them, getting a little intrigued by the different methods the writers had taken to guard their work from discovery.

Some, like the one between Benedict Arnold and John Andre, had been written in a secret code.  The translations were interesting, but Ben had already been over most of Benedict Arnold’s correspondence and he knew that unless he could come up with something really compelling, Linda was going to turn that proposal away at the door.

One of the letters on display had been written as small as possible, then cut into strips that were inserted inside of a writing quill.  The body of the letter even mentioned another letter which had been concealed but found out.

There is a report of a messenger of yours to me having been taken, & the letter discovered in a double wooded canteen, you will know of any consequence; nothing of it has come to us.

Another letter had been done in invisible ink, a mixture of ferrous sulfate and water that only appeared when the paper was heated over a candle flame.  One of the cleverest methods though, and unique to the British during the war, had been writing a letter that was essentially full of nonsense and then looking at it through a unique shape, honing in on the words that the author really wanted to say and ignoring the rest of it.

Probably the most poignant letter was the one sent from Rachel Revere to her husband Paul, a short plea for him to take the money she was sending him via a friend and run for his life.  Sadly, the friend she had entrusted the money to was a British spy, who gave the letter over to British authorities and pocketed the money himself.  The closing lines in particular got to Ben.

“Keep up  your spirits and trust your self and us in the hands  of a good God who will take care of us, tis all my dependance for vain is the help of man, aduie my  Love from your affectionate R. Revere

That poor woman had had no idea just how vain her dependence on the help of man was.

Reading that letter depressed Ben.  It spoke of a yearning between two people who couldn’t be together, and he was feeling something rather like that at the moment.  Fuck, it was ridiculous just how much he missed Ryan.

Knowing that the feeling was mutual didn’t help.  If anything, the first week had been almost intolerable, so hard to listen to the Ryan’s voice and hear that soft, unspoken plea in it and the wounded resignation of their goodbyes.  Ryan wanted him to come to Boston, and Ben wanted to, he did, but he had no idea when he was going to be free to go there.  Certainly not while he had this deadline looming over his head, and that wasn’t going to be resolved until Ben had a book proposal put together. 

After the first couple of weeks Ryan stopped asking, and that made their conversations both easier and harder.  Easier because they both seemed to relax a little bit, and harder because there was an undertone of melancholia in Ryan’s voice that Ben couldn’t help but hear, even when Ryan was deliberately trying to be cheerful.  They kept up with the questions game, and upon learning that Ryan had never been to see a major league baseball game Ben was instantly tempted, so tempted, to tell Ryan that he would take him to one.  Ben wasn’t all that into sports but going to a Rockies game with his grandfather had felt a bit like a rite of passage when he was a young man.  He knew that Ryan had seen some of Brody’s college football games, but the spectacle wasn’t the same.  But he didn’t say anything, because then the questions would be “When” and Ben didn’t have an answer for that yet.

Given how hectic his life was, Ben had been tempted to let his loose arrangement with Heather slide into oblivion, but she wasn’t having it.  She lured Ben to the Starbucks where she worked as a manager with the promise of free coffee, then got his address out of him.  A day later she showed up at his door after her shift, a six-pack of beer in one hand and her iPad in the other.

“Nice house,” she said when Ben opened the door.  “I had no idea you were so swanky.”

“I’m not swanky,” Ben protested with a smile, letting her in.  He’d been about two minutes away from banging his head into the keyboard and sending whatever came from that to Linda, so any distraction was a good one.  “I inherited the house.”

“From your swanky relatives, I get it.  You gonna let me in, or am I going to freeze my ass off on your front porch for a while?”  She glanced back at her ass and grimaced.  “Not that it couldn’t maybe use a little freezing, but I’d really rather not.”

“Yeah, of course, come in.”  Ben stepped aside and let Heather into his house, and as he closed the door he realized that she was the first person other than himself to step foot in here in over a year.  Jesus Christ, when had Ben become such a recluse?

“Wow,” Heather said, taking her coat off and draping it over the rack at the door while she looked around.  “This place is huge.  Nice chandelier.”

“Thanks.”  It was a German crystal chandelier that his mother had picked up when they lived overseas, and while it didn’t really fit the turn-of-the-century style of the house, his mother had refused to let it sit in a box.  “Would you like some coffee or something?”

“Dude.”  Heather hoisted the six pack.  “Beer.”


“And it’s not PBR or anything, don’t look at me like that.  It’s a microbrew.  Dark.  Like drinking bread, if bread could make you drunk.”

“Right now I wouldn’t care if it was rotgut in a can, I’d drink it anyway,” Ben said truthfully.  “I need to turn my brain off.”  The proposal was going slowly, if by slowly he meant nowhere fast.  Linda was on the phone to him at least twice a day to badger him, and Ryan was out with his roommates tonight and not available for the kind of long, easy conversation that would put Ben at ease.

“So c’mon, show me the living room already.”

“It’s not very impressive,” Ben warned as he walked further back into the house.  “I don’t have a television.”

“Meh, TV.”  Heather waved a hand dismissively.  “We can watch on the iPad, I just want to see more of your home.”

Ben ended up giving her the ten cent tour.  She was mostly quiet until they got to the library, at which point her eyes nearly bulged out of her head.  “Holy shit!  It’s like a museum in here!”

“Yeah, it sort of is,” Ben agreed.

Heather walked over to the glass case and looked down at the letters.  “So these were written by Benjamin Franklin?”


“Damn.  Is there, like, an alarm on this case?  If I touch it, does it automatically call the police?”  She glanced around with renewed interest.  “Do you have lasers in here?”


“Like in the movies.  When you leave they spring up and make it almost impossible for a thief to navigate the room unless they’re wicked good at breakdancing or rappel down from the ceiling.”

“Sorry, no lasers,” Ben chuckled.

“Still, it’s pretty impressive.”  Heather looked at him and grinned.  “What’s your boyfriend think of this place?”

Aaand hello guilt.  “I haven’t had him here yet.”



Thankfully Heather knew when not to push.  “So, are we watching this or not?”

The curl of anxiety in Ben’s stomach melted away.  “Sure.  Let me go get a bottle opener.”

“Pssht, bottle openers are for pussies.”  Heather pulled out one of the bottles of beer, stuck the cap between her back teeth and cracked it open.  “Voila.”  She handed it to Ben with a smile.

“Oh my god, you’re going to break your teeth.”

“Haven’t yet!” Heather said cheerfully, opening her own beer.  “Come one—couch!  Battlestar!  Now!”

Watching Battlestar Galactica became a regular occurrence, Heather coming over at least a couple of times a week and parking herself on the couch whether Ben was freaking out over his book proposal or not.  If he couldn’t pull himself away from his computer Heather didn’t mind; she’d watch the episodes by herself after setting a beer down next to Ben’s chair.  More often than not he’d let himself get pulled away, though, and during the moments between episodes they got to know each other a little better.

Ben learned that Heather was the middle child in a pack of nine, a big blend of step-siblings and half-siblings and way too many parents for Ben to keep track of.  Her oldest sister was a doctor, and the star of the family.  Her youngest brother was still in elementary school, and Heather didn’t talk to her dad or his new wife because they didn’t like the fact that she had a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend.

“Not that I really have a girlfriend anymore,” Heather confessed after her third beer one night.  “I haven’t heard from Sarah in over a month.  I know she doesn’t have internet so I send her letters, but it’s been a while since I’ve gotten one back.”  Her mouth twisted unhappily.  “I offered to go and visit her and she told me not to.  She said I wouldn’t like it and that I couldn’t afford it.  I told her I didn’t care, I’d burn through all my credit cards if I had to, but Sarah…well, fuck it, whatever.”

“How often do you write her?”

Heather sighed.  “Every week.” 

She ended up drinking the rest of the six pack that night and slept sacked out on Ben’s couch.

One night that Heather came over, neither of them were really that into watching episodes.  Ben had settled, reluctantly, on covert correspondence during the Revolutionary War for his topic and was doing his best to write out a decent proposal for it.  He had one week left until his deadline but couldn’t take another day without having something ready to shut Linda’s mouth.  And they were up to the part of the series that Heather didn’t really care for, when Starbuck died and came back and left a whole lot of questions.

“And they never get answered really satisfactorily,” she grumbled, playing Cut The Rope instead of watching the show.  “Bullshit about angels and cylons and a whole bunch of crap.  They never should have gotten into the theology stuff, I fuckin’ hate it.”  She set down the iPad with a sigh.  “Got something I can read?”

“You know where the library is,” Ben said.

“I mean something normal people read.”

“Hey, I’m normal.”

“No,” she replied.  “You’re totally not, but that’s cool.”  She wandered over to the desk and grabbed the copy of Janie and the Phantom that Ryan had sent Ben.  “Can I read this?”

“Sure,” Ben said slowly, “but be careful with it.  It’s signed.”

Heather rolled her eyes.  “I won’t break the spine or get beer on it, I promise.”  She took it back to the couch, kicked her feet up on the coffee table and settled in to read.

Thirty minutes later she grabbed the next volume.  Then the next.  Then the fourth.  By the time midnight rolled around she was done with them, and looked stunned.

“What?” Ben asked tiredly.  He was so sick of writing…

“Nothing, just…these are a hell of a love letter, Ben.”

Ben frowned.  “What do you mean?”

“Oh come on,” Heather scoffed.  “You can’t be serious.  Mr. Writer Man can’t read the subtext?”

“What subtext?” Ben demanded.  He was tired, his head ached and he wasn’t tracking very well tonight.

“Dude, this whole story.  It’s like one big love letter to you.  I was there for the panel where Ryan kind of outed you as the Phantom, you know.  This story, Janie’s story, it’s not just the adventure of her going from the same old, same old into new kinds of challenges and danger, it’s about her search for what she really wants.  And she knows what she wants, and it’s the Phantom.  And that’s you, Ben.  It’s totally a love letter.”  Heather looked down at the cover and smiled.  “Maybe that’s why so many people like reading it.”

Ben stared at Heather in silence, his brain sparking with revelations and new inspiration.  He’d read Ryan’s stories a dozen times already, and when he twisted his perception just a little bit he could see where she was coming from.  It wasn’t just that, though.  It was the whole idea of a love letter.  Love in times of strife, love that saw people through the difficult times… 

The letter he’d been going to use as a reference for the book on spies, the one from Rachel Revere to her husband Paul, stood out from the other pieces of paper on Ben’s desk.  He grabbed it up and reread it, then bounded out of his chair and headed into the library.

“Ben?”  He heard Heather following behind him, asking him questions, but he couldn’t distract himself to answer right now.  Where was his book on the Adams?  Where, where—here.  Ben opened it up and found the letter he was looking for.

“My Dearest Friend,

…should I draw you the picture of my Heart, it would be what I hope you still would Love; tho it contained nothing new; the early possession you obtained there; and the absolute power you have ever maintained over it; leaves not the smallest space unoccupied. I look back to the early days of our acquaintance; and Friendship, as to the days of Love and Innocence; and with an indescribable pleasure I have seen near a score of years roll over our Heads, with an affection heightened and improved by time -- nor have the dreary years of absence in the smallest degree effaced from my mind the Image of the dear untitled man to whom I gave my Heart...”


It was perfect, it was poignant, it was exactly what Ben was looking for.  His whole body flooded over with a sense of incredible relief, and he tilted his head back and laughed.

“So, how did you get on the crazy train, and can I join you?” Heather asked him with a grin.

“I’m not crazy,” Ben corrected.  “I’m just…happy.  I’ve got the perfect idea for my next book.  And you’re a fucking genius, did you know that?”

“I didn’t do anything, man, thank Ryan,” Heather replied.  “He’s the one who wrote a big mushy graphic novel about his big mushy love for you.”

“Oh, I plan on thanking him,” Ben assured her.  In person.