Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Love Letters Post #41: Epilogue

Notes:  The epilogue.  The end.  This is the end of Ben and Ryan’s story, short and sweet and sadly not explicit, but I thought it fit.  115 thousand words, almost a year of writing these guys, agonizing over them and loving them.  It’s hard to stop, but I have to move on.  Thank you so, so much to everyone who’s read this story, and especially the people who commented.  You prompted me to take this in a completely different direction around a third of the way through, and it became a much stronger story because of it.  You all make writing fun for me, something to look forward to, something to help keep my crazy life on schedule, and I love it.  I hope you stick with me for the next big thing, but either way, I am so appreciative of my darlins.
I’m planning on getting this nicely edited and self-pubbed at some point, and I’ll get all the posts put onto a single page on the blog when I can, hopefully soon.  It’s a slow and painful process—thanks, Blogger.  I wish I had artwork for you guys as well—one of my goals for the next year is to learn how to make images to accompany my stories.
Well.  Here we go.

Title: Love Letters


Part Forty-One: Epilogue




The doorbell rang.  Or at least Ben assumed that the doorbell had to have rung, even though he didn’t hear it, because Ryan bolted down the stairs, past Ben’s office, into the foyer and had the door open before Ben could do more than look up from his computer.  He heard a brief conversation, the slam of the door closing and then Ryan joined him in his office, carrying a fairly big box that hit the ground with a thud at Ben’s feet.

“Holy shit, that’s heavy,” Ryan said, bending down next to it and grabbing the utility knife out of his back pocket.  He had on ratty, paint-stained jeans that were almost half holes and a flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and his feet were bare and probably freezing.  It was the beginning of December, after all, and the house was pretty bad at holding in heat.

“This has gotta be them,” Ryan continued, cutting through the layers of tape that held the box closed.  “What else would Penguin be sending you?  How many copies did Linda say you’d get?”

“Ten,” Ben said, closing his laptop and turning his attention to the box.  If this was what he thought it was, he was actually kind of excited to get his hands on one.  Ben felt like he’d barely had a moment of downtime this last year, between editing his last book and putting together the proposal for the next one, an examination of the different methods Revolutionary-era spies used to transmit secret messages.  They were fascinating, really, everything from special inks to cyphers to vital information hidden within the text of a letter that could only be discerned with the proper stencil placed over them. 

All of that, plus helping Ryan and Jasmine make the move to Denver last February, getting them settled and realizing after four months that Ryan spent eighty percent of his time at Ben’s house.  It took Jasmine finally suggesting it, her “am I a kindergarten teacher, seriously” voice in full effect, to prompt them to finalize moving in together.  Despite being more than a little nervous about having an actual, real, live-in boyfriend for the first time in ever, Ryan and Ben’s lives combined into a fairly harmonious whole.  They knocked out the wall between the two guest rooms upstairs and made them into a studio, turned the extra office into a spare room, and added extra shelves to the library.  Most of the time, it was good.  It was better than Ben had imagined it could be.

“Oh, whoops.  Fuck.”

Which wasn’t to say it was perfect.  “You cut the dust jackets, didn’t you?” Ben asked, leaning forward to look in the open box.

“Just one of them.”  Ryan held up a fresh-from-the-printers copy of My Dearest Friend: The Letters at the Heart of the American Revolution.  There was a vertical slash right through the word Heart.  Ben chuckled. 

“We can give that one to Heather, she’ll appreciate the symbolism of it,” Ben said.

“No, I think she’s finally over Sarah,” Ryan mused, pulling out a stack of books and setting them on the floor.

“What makes you say that?”

“Let’s just say that I think she and Jasmine are very happy to be living together now, and that I need to learn to knock,” Ryan said with a sheepish grin.

“You…wait, they what, really?”  This was news to Ben.  “Why haven’t they said anything?”

Ryan shrugged.  “I assume because they’re taking it slow.  Wow, I love the cover.”  He grabbed one of the whole copies and stood up, then stepped around the box and sat down in Ben’s lap.  Ben pulled Ryan in close and looked around his arm at the book.  It was a nice cover, he had to admit.  Whereas the last book’s cover had basically been “Washington Crossing The Delaware” in miniature, this one showed a writing desk with a copy of Abigail Adams’ most famous letter to her husband John on top of it, which he’d borrowed from for the title.

“Your pre-orders were better than ever, Linda’s got you booked with Terry Gross in January, and my mom will have bragging rights at her bridge club for the next six months, so everybody’s happy,” Ryan continued, opening the book to look at the dedication page.  His fingertip brushed the curling font, lingering over his own name.  “I can’t believe I’m in your book.”

When Ben was alone and had time to indulge in pensiveness, he had moments of not being able to believe it either.  Ben was a lot of things, but a romantic had never been one of them.  Big, crazy love stories were for other people, usually people he ended up pitying if he cared at all, because they so often ended so badly.  He’d been swept up by Ryan, entranced, overwhelmed.  He’d fled for the sake of his sanity and then been drawn back for the same reason. 

Now they’d settled into a state of comfort with each other, warm and loving and only occasionally manic or strange—there was no way to escape it completely, not with their families.  Ben couldn’t imagine his life without Ryan now. He barely remembered what it had been like before: mostly him, alone, eating takeout and sitting at his computer and barely remembering how to interact with humanity when the rare friend came around.

He put his hand over Ryan’s and traced out the lines of the dedication.


This book would never have come about without inspiration in the form of Ryan, the genesis of my very own love story.


“I don’t think I could have written about love before I met you,” Ben said, brushing his lips over the nape of Ryan’s neck and just breathing, inhaling the warmth and the scent of paint and charcoal and the man underneath it.  “It wouldn’t even have occurred to me, and I could never have meant it.” 

Brody had been the inspiration for the first book—he’d given up a chance to be a professional football player to join the army and serve his country, and Ben had wanted to understand that kind of patriotism and what could inspire it.  Brody was honor and faith, but Ryan was love.  Ben was lucky to have both of them, even if only in memory in Brody’s case.

“Hmm.”  Ryan turned his head and caught Ben’s mouth in a soft kiss.  “You know, Linda told me that if you make the New York Times list this week, she’ll send me a bouquet of roses for acting as your muse.  She said if the next one makes the list too, she’ll exchange the roses for a trip to Hawaii.” 

“She’ll stop at nothing, will she?” Ben sighed, but he was too content to be bothered. “That’s nice of her, I guess.”

“She might have mentioned something about making you do some book signings while we were out there,” Ryan added with a grin.  “Still, though.  Every bit of motivation helps, right?”

“And is that what you need for your book?” Ben asked, pulling Ryan a little tighter against him.  His body was already interested, even though they’d just been sitting there.  “Motivation?”

“Absolutely.  Janie and the Phantom are about to confront Circe, and I have no idea how they’re going to escape her seductive clutches,” Ryan laughed.

“You want practice escaping?”  Ben ran one hand beneath the hem of Ryan’s shirt and stroked warm skin, slowly making his way up.

“Nnn-no,” Ryan said, wiggling a little but in no way trying to get away.  “I was thinking…thinking maybe we could just practice the seduction part.”

“I think we are.”  Ben rolled his hips slowly up into Ryan, captivated by the sound of his lover’s moan.  “Do you feel seduced yet?  Thoroughly trapped?”

“I don’t think I’ll be able to escape.”  Ryan turned and twisted to kiss Ben again.  “I don’t think I’ll ever want to.”

“Yeah,” Ben said softly.  “Me neither.”



  1. Sweet. I like it. Allthough there are many things that I also want to know this end fits the story. And it is the perfekt end for the guys and it is nice to know that the girls in their lives have found someone, too! Thanks a lot and now I am eager to read some sience fiction!

    1. Glad you're ready for the next big thing:) Yay for new beginnings!

  2. What a long way Ben has come!! I'm so happy that they're settling in together and enjoying being a couple. I'm also thrilled for Jasmine and Heather. They both deserve some happiness. I do wonder about Ben's relationship with his father and siblings. Things seemed to be thawing a bit and I hope that has continued.

    I will miss my weekly visits with these two. However, after reading about Cody's new roommates, I am even more excited for that story to begin. Bring on the Academy adventures!!

    1. Hi Lynette!

      The Academy creeps ever closer...thanks so much for commenting on Letters, I'm glad you kept up with it.

  3. Awwww.... I've got the end-of-story happy-sads *sigh*

    It was a lovely story - thank you!

    1. Thanks for reading it, VC! I'm excited for my next project, though.

  4. The Perfect End for Ben and Ryan! They've both grown so much during the course of the story.
    Oh Ryan, another fictional crush off the table forever because he's found his soulmate. . Lol! And he's so different from Jonah! Oh, Jonah. .
    Great work, as always! Luv ya!

    1. Oops. Forgot to sign it lol.

    2. Scottie!!!

      I'll throw some Jonah into the beginning of the Academy, just for you, honey:)

  5. Awww! Happy endings all around! I had a feeling the two of them wouldn't be keeping separate residences very long. And Heather and Jasmine! I didn't see that coming. Good for them!

    I hate to say goodbye to this story but (Holy COW! 115k words!) you wrapped it up so nicely I can't feel too sad. Thanks for all your hard work on this one!

    1. Thanks for all your encouragement, hon, I would never have gotten through it otherwise. And now YA. What are you doing to me?

    2. I must be a bad influence! Lol

  6. This was a wonderful story with fully realized characters. Both men grew up and evolved as the story went on until they had their HEA. I'm so glad you gave us this story. Thank you. I look forward now to Cody's story and whatever else you give us in the future.

    1. Avid! You're so welcome, I'm glad you read this story and got some satisfaction out of it. Onward and upward.

  7. In regards to your note, this story has never been about the sex so I think it came to a close as it should- sort of quietly and thoughtful… You fought your way to the end, Cari, and I need to read it all together now because... well because. This is a project for a marathon sit down in the quiet new year, complete with snacks and beer, that I look forward to.

    I look forward to the next serial, and hopefully again you'll jump back into something modern. Cheers!

  8. I loved this story! Devoured it in 2 days, in fact. Thank you!

    1. Wow, kniblet, way to go to it. I'm glad you liked this one! I still feel unsure about it sometimes, so the fact that you let me know you loved it really makes my day. Thank you!