November 12, 2015
His scream split the afternoon, and he jumped, probably five feet straight back, dropped the cup, and minced on feet that barely touched the ground until his tight butt fetched up against the fence.
“Easy.” Dusty rushed forward, crouched, and flicked the errant spider free of Conrad’s leg. She landed in the grass and promptly disappeared.
“Ohmygodohmygodohmygod,” Conrad was chanting under his breath, fingers clenching around the wooden slats behind him, eyes closed tight. “Okay.” Dusty had put a hand on the side of Conrad’s thigh, about to get up, to offer some sort of reassurance, when Conrad’s eyes flew open, luminous and wide, and fixed on him. “Is it gone?”
Dusty smiled. “She’s gone.”
“Good,” Conrad whispered, gazing down at him, freezing him in place. A heartbeat later, Conrad’s hand came free of the fence and his fingertips brushed over the back of Dusty’s hand, still on his leg.
“S-sorry.” Dusty stood so fast vertigo tilted the earth under his feet.
Conrad’s hands, unyielding but steady and gentle, gripped his upper arms, and Dusty blinked. He’d barely drawn a breath when Conrad took a step toward him, lips parted.
Like gravity, the sight of Conrad’s soft expression drew Dusty to him until Dusty touched his lips to Conrad’s. Or had Conrad done the touching? It was impossible to tell, and it made Dusty sigh out a little breath of expectancy. Then there was no air to breathe, no space, and nothing but the pressure of the kiss.
Dusty closed his eyes, ran fingers over the sides of Conrad’s face, and pressed the advantage of the gasp that ran through Conrad at the touch. He pushed his tongue into Conrad’s mouth and moved them until Conrad was pinned against the fence. Dusty had to stand on his toes to reach properly, but that didn’t stop him until they both needed to breathe.
When he stepped back, lips tingling, breath short, Conrad’s eyes were wide, and his chest heaved. His lips, red and parted, curved in a bemused smile. “Was that meant to make me forget I just screamed like a little girl?”
“I—” Dusty took a hasty step back. He’d just kissed a complete stranger. He’d had this job for exactly three hours, and he’d tripped over a spider and kissed the man who signed his miniscule paycheck. “Oh shit.”
Conrad’s smile grew. The hand that had come to rest at the side of Dusty’s face exerted a tiny amount of pressure, thumb pad ghosting over his cheekbone and back, like he had brushed away a bit of hair….
“I’m so sorry,” Dusty blurted. “I—I didn’t mean—Sir—I—”
Conrad grinned then. “You kiss me like that and then call me sir?”
“Oh God.” Dusty broke away and moved back, out of reach. “I am so sorry.” He turned and fled back inside, through the studio, and out the front door of the building. He had hiked back to his own apartment and was letting himself inside when he remembered he never had emptied the bucket of dirty floor water.
Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she’s been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men; what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love, she’s never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they should also be the stories she wrote.
October 15, 2015
Someone else cried out, and I whirled around. Parsol, I think was her name—it had become a challenge to remember all the names because on every mission we lost people, so many people—held up her right arm. A ram stood next to her, gnawing on the part it had just ripped off her.
I choked as I lifted my gun again. The ram trilled before it stared at me from cold, reptilian eyes. Parsol was still staring at her limb, gushing with blood, when her knees buckled and she sprawled on the ground. The ram’s head whipped around, the red ridge on its head flaring. Seconds later we listened to crushing bones and tearing flesh.
Tom grasped my hips in his hands and lifted me up, so I could reach a low hanging branch. On autopilot, I grabbed for it and hauled myself up. I reached for the next one and had to assure myself with a glance at my fingers that I was indeed holding on tight because my fingers felt numb.
Tom patted my ass, probably to encourage me, but to me it felt like a slap, and not of the good kind. Startled, I moved up higher. Not a second too soon.
A ram showed up below us, tilted its head sideways, and inspected the tree trunk. After a snapped whistle, another ram appeared next to the first.
On our way up, Tom had made sure to destroy the low hanging branches, probably to stop the rams from following us. How we were supposed to get down from the tree was his secret. For now, it was more important for the rams to stay on the ground.
We stopped our climb halfway up the tree. Not because we couldn’t go up farther, rather due to the gusting wind that threatened to blow us off. When I peered down through the pouring raindrops, my heart stopped for a beat. Seriously, it did.
With a trembling finger, I pointed at the scene below. “Tom? Are they doing what I think they’re doing?”
Tom’s eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. He wrapped his tail around the trunk and me, anchoring me. I had no time to process whether I should give him a piece of my mind or not because the first ram had finished climbing on the shoulders of the second one and now vaulted up on the first branch within reach. After its landing, it threw its head back and screeched.
Even through the thundering rain, the scream sliced through my body. Tom lifted his gun and fired right at the ram’s head.
The ram had ducked aside and was now steadily climbing the tree, winding around it like a slithering snake. No matter how hard we tried, our shots always missed the target.
I glanced down again, only to see another ram ready himself for the climb. I fumbled with the pocket on my right thigh, grabbed a bluster and lobbed it at the two rams on the ground. As they tumbled down, the bluster went off, destroying both of them. Two less to worry about.
In the distance, I heard more gun shots and another bluster going off. Maybe we would survive this attack after all.
Right at that moment, claws appeared an inch below my boot. I reversed my gun and slammed the butt of it onto the claw. The ram screeched in pain but didn’t let go. Instead, it hauled itself up on a branch opposite Tom and me. Why the fuck didn’t the bough snap under the ram’s weight?
I swiveled the gun around to aim, but the ram’s claw closed around the muzzle. Even though I pulled the trigger, the ram pulled and flung my gun to the ground.
Tom withdrew his tail from the trunk—not a second too soon, because the ram tried to snatch it with its claws—but kept it around my waist. We moved farther away from the trunk, carefully balancing on the narrowing branch. Another blast of wind almost chucked us off.
The ram’s head peeked out from behind the trunk for a moment, then withdrew. Was it pondering its options?
“I’ll throw you to that tree in the back. Do you think you’ll be able to get a hold on a branch?” Tom whispered.
I froze. “Excuse me? What do you mean by ‘you’ll throw me’? We’re like… like high above the ground, and I don’t have wings or anything.”
Tom jerked his thumb over his shoulder, pointing at a tree close to us. “You can’t jump this kind of distance, but I can throw you. Will you be able to hold on?”
“I have no idea!” I burst out. “I’ve never tried before!”
“Berit,” Tom said, his voice so soft it hurt. “I know you haven’t done that before, but if I can’t trust you to find a handhold, I can’t risk the move.”
“I can’t promise,” I said in sheer desperation. What would be worse—getting killed by a ram, or falling to one’s own death? “Can’t you just shoot the damn thing?”
“It always ducks behind the trunk, so, no, I can’t. Ready?”
“Berit!” he snapped. With his free hand, he grabbed for one of my hands and gave it a squeeze. “I’ll follow right away.”
“If you can follow, maybe that beast can too,” I protested.
“It has to come out of its hiding place, and that’s when I’ll kill it,” Tom replied.
“Oh. Well, that sounds reasonable.”
Tom squeezed again, and this time I reciprocated.
“Ready?” he asked.
“Now is probably not a good time to confess that I’m not the adventurous type, huh?”
Tom chuckled. “I’d beg to differ anyway. On three.”
Chris T. Kat loves to write and to read. She writes whatever floats her boat, which means her stories vary from contemporary to paranormal, fantasy, bittersweet dreams or sci-fi. All of her books have a strong romantic element and she’s happiest if she can write about shapeshifters. In real life, Chris is a teacher and couldn’t have hoped for a better job. She’s blessed with a wonderful and supportive family.
September 1, 2015
DSP: Why did you choose a wounded veteran as your lead for The Articles of Release?
Cackles You say choose like I had any control over this. Win informed me that he had this battle buddy named Eric, handed him over and informed me that I had novels to write. Seriously. I never choose anything. They choose. I obey.
DSP: What’s your favorite sex act to write in a gay romance?
Frenetic, mad rubbing off, still mostly clothed. I love the intensity, the ferocity. The wild passion of it.
DSP: What does your writing space look like?
Writing space is a little bit of a misnomer, because my wife and I write all over — the rolltop desk in the front room, the sofa, the sunroom. I offer pictures of the office which is a crazy mish-mash of art and color and words and love.
DSP: Name 5 things you can’t live without.
Things? Okay, I want to just point out that I don’t count living beings as things (because WIFE and puppies and best friends and all my 39 nieces and nephews and sisters and Moma and Daddy and and and)
1. My internet connection. The internet and me? We’re buds. Totally. I would let them insert a jack (although when I say that my wife cackles and reminds me that I rant about the home DNA tests and people using that information for nefarious purposes).
2. Coffee. Coffee is why I don’t kill people.
3. My Apple products — MacBook, iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad. Yes, please.
4. Fabric. I’m a dedicated quilter. I need my stash.
5. Yarn. YARN. ALL THE YARN! KNITTING, WEAVING, CROCHETING, YARN!!! ahem
DSP: If you could live anywhere in the world where would that be and why?
I’d move to Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Hot springs, river rafting, mountains, skiing, snowmobiling. I’m all in. I just need to get that six-figure book deal first, right?
Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA spends her days with her basset hounds, getting tattooed, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia, her best friend, Sean, and coffee. Lots of good coffee.
July 7, 2015
Serena Yates chats with blog readers today!
Tell us how you choose those sexy book covers for your Workplace Encounters series!
They all start with the main character in each book, who initially only exists in my brain. Then I complete a cover spec questionnaire which goes to the Dreamspinner Press art department. And that is where the “magic” starts. Honestly—I can’t take all the credit, simply because L/C. Chase, the brilliant cover artist who has been working with me on this series, must be a mind reader. She takes the questionnaire, comes up with some wonderful alternatives for me to choose from, and most of the time the first model she picks is exactly the man I was looking for. Magic, I tell you!
I’ve been wanting to write another book with a main character in a kilt for quite a while. So I started with “I need a man of Scottish descent” who is also a baker. Ian Wallace “popped” into my head (yes, he was wearing a kilt!) and I started asking him questions. What do you like baking? Where do you live and work? What is your family like? Who is your ideal man? As usual, one thing led to another and “The Baker” was born.
Do you have a favorite couple in your Workplace Encounters series?
I don’t think I do – I like them all. I think Joe and Bill from The Elevator Mechanic will always be special because they were the first… But each new couple is special in their own way. I’d love to hear from readers if they have a favorite and who that might be!
What are five of your favorite gay romance reads and briefly share why.
I don’t think I can narrow it down to only five. I LOVE reading gay romance, and it depends on my mood which type of book I go for. One of my favorites is definitely the sweet contemporary romance, but dark and angsty has its place in my TBR too. I could never write like that, but occasionally I like to read the tortured characters some authors do so well. Then there is BDSM. Another genre I don’t think I will write (but you never know), but I definitely enjoy reading all types of stories involving power exchange. Then there are the shifters, vampires, aliens, magic wielders of all descriptions…The list is endless and it never seems as if I have enough time to read everything I want to.
What is one thing you waste time on when you should be writing?
This is embarrassing…. I love to play computer games. My biggest weakness (and longest-standing addiction) is Civilization. I am currently exploring Civilization V and don’t think I’ll get bored anytime soon. But I have to admit I love playing Minecraft too – it’s all my thirteen-year-old niece’s fault that one!
June 2, 2015
The large case he’d set up as a wall between the front and the back of the store was broken as well, but from what he could see, the movie props he’d placed there were intact, although he couldn’t say the same for the enormous papier-mâché griffin he’d found at a Harryhausen tribute auction. Peppered with bullet holes, its body and head were marred with crumbling white holes, a scatter pattern large enough to make Rook’s stomach turn.
“Shit, they were trying to kill me.” He leaned back, trying to do a visual count on how many bullets pierced through the window and into the shop while he’d been plastered to the floor to avoid being shot.
“Go in but do not touch.” Rook echoed what his grandfather’s lawyers told him, trying to absorb the destruction. “I can’t even move without touching something. And how the hell am I going to document the damage? What isn’t damaged? Fricking lawyers.”
“Are these the same lawyers that told you to return to the scene of the crime and screw up any residuals that might be here?” Montoya’s deep voice rumbled out of the darkened doorway leading from the storefront to the elevator up to Rook’s apartment. “If they wanted you to be thrown into jail, they could have just left you there instead of this catch-and-release program we’ve got going.”
Montoya looked… good. Again. Too good. Too ruffled, too scruffy hot, with broad shoulders and his burned burned-honey eyes fringed with thick, long lashes. A hint of a dimple threatened to spread when his mouth quirked to the side, and Rook had to swallow around a lump in his throat when Montoya shoved his hands into his jeans pockets, sliding his black leather jacket back with his elbows to expose his gun harness.
Even from a few feet away, the man was a tall, dangerous complication in Rook’s life. One he wanted as badly as he didn’t want him around. Rook wasn’t sure what was worse—being accused of murder or being tailed by a man he’d gladly bend over for but who wanted him in handcuffs instead.
“What are you doing here, Stevens?” Montoya’s rumble tickled Rook’s belly, licking hot flames down his crotch and over his ass. “You shouldn’t even be here. What were you thinking?”
Rook had just the smartass answer to throw back at the detective. A burning slap of a sting mingled with a bit of a flirtation hot enough to make the man blush. It would have been an epic moment. One to balance out the unbearable want Montoya seemed to rake up inside of him and caustic enough to push the man’s buttons while pushing him away.
Rhys Ford was born and raised in Hawai’i then wandered off to see the world. After chewing through a pile of books, a lot of odd food, and a stray boyfriend or two, Rhys eventually landed in San Diego, which is a very nice place but seriously needs more rain.
Rhys admits to sharing the house with three cats of varying degrees of black fur, a black Pomeranian puffball and a ginger cairn terrorist. Rhys is also enslaved to the upkeep a 1979 Pontiac Firebird, a Toshiba laptop, and a purple Bella coffee maker.
May 8, 2015
I stare at the groom and hope it doesn’t show—the love I feel for him, the love I’ve always felt. I’m praying I can keep the ardor off my face, even though I know I’ve failed miserably to keep it out of my heart.
The best man obviously lusting for the groom would be, well, just wrong. Especially not when the groom has eyes only for his gorgeous bride, the blond and lovely Alana, in her Vera Wang wedding dress. Now, their eyes are locked on one another and I feel the old paradox I experience every time I look at them—a curious brew of jealousy and happiness at their having found the other.
Love is a rare thing in this world.
Yeah, you heard me right—I’m the best man. That groom up there at the altar? The gorgeous guy in the tux with the close-trimmed red beard, the green eyes, and the linebacker shoulders? That’s my best friend, Kevin. We’ve been together since we were in second grade. I’d lay down my life for the guy. And the sad truth is, I’d lay down for the guy. Period. With my legs thrown in the air. He knows this, yet he continues to call me his best friend, except he says, ‘best bud.’ He even proclaims he couldn’t live without me.
But shame on me for having such thoughts on Kevin’s wedding day! If the poor guy knew the wicked, lustful thoughts coursing through my brain as I stand here, smiling, but jealous as hell, with the other groomsmen, Kevin would be blushing as crimson as the rose in his lapel.
But God, he does look gorgeous! Edible. And I can’t help but think—unkindly, I know; inappropriately, I know—the thought gay guys have had about buff and beautiful straight men for millennia—what a waste!
I’m sure his bride, Alana, would beg to differ.
The music, Pachelbel’s Canon, has just ended and the crowd at St. Aloysius Catholic Church has grown quiet. There are only a couple of coughs here, a whisper there.
We’re ready to begin. Kevin turns to Alana. I can see he’s trembling and my heart gives a little lurch. A lump forms in my throat.
Alana beams beneath her lace veil, all smiles. I try not to think unkind thoughts about her. Jealousy is such an ugly emotion. And so is Alana, in anything backless. Stop it!
I let my mind drift back to a few months ago. A winter’s night when Kevin and I had traveled up from Seattle to the San Juan Islands. We had taken the ferry over on Friday afternoon to Orcas Island where we rented a small cabin at Doe Bay resort. The cabin was no frills and cold. It had rained all weekend. Even our trip to Mt. Constitution was doomed—the stunning vistas from its top blocked out by drizzling banks of low-hanging clouds.
So we had little to do but hang out in the cabin. There was no TV or Wi-Fi, so cards or reading were pretty much the order of the day.
A lot of drinking. See, Kevin had asked me to come away with him that weekend because he had acquired a severe case of cold feet regarding his wedding to Alana that summer. “She’s great,” he’d told me. “But suddenly I’m just not sure I’m ready. Maybe it’s like they say, you know?”
“No. I don’t know.” An evil little part of me just wanted Miss Alana to go away so I could have my Kevin back. I’d missed things like our early morning runs together on the Burke-Gilman trail, with the sun coming up and the world seeming to contain only the two of us. I missed Friday nights with Kevin at his condo in Wallingford, ordering in a meat-lover’s pizza from Pagliacci to go with a nice IPA I’d bought on my way over to his place, streaming old horror movies on his big-screen. We both loved Carnival of Souls.
“Like, maybe I love Alana, but I’m not in love with her. You know what I mean?”
I’d wanted to say that I knew exactly what he meant. For example, I loved Kevin and to my heart’s great regret, I was also in love with him. So yeah, I got the distinction.
I thought our weekend together, somehow, might change things between us. Magically. Maybe it was because I was reading a lot of books lately that featured some butch “straight” protagonist falling suddenly for his buddy and realizing that, while maybe he wasn’t strictly gay, he could be gay for this man he’d fallen for. Like that ever happens…
And yet…those stories always had a happy ending. Why couldn’t ours?
Hey, if I read it in a book, it must be possible, right?
And I thought, on our Saturday night here on Orcas, drunk on beer and a good single-malt Scotch, that maybe, just maybe, the same could happen for Kevin and me. Magically. I mean, we’d been practically inseparable since we were kids. We’d played softball together, spent countless nights together, went through the trials and tribulations of high school as one, cheered each other on at our respective events at track meets and cried on one another’s shoulders as we each met yet another disappointment in love. As we grew, we grew closer.
And then Alana came along.
And spoiled everything.
Oh, Alana’s a wonderful woman—kind, sweet, funny. She can curse like a sailor, drink a man under the table, and arrange a bouquet of spring wildflowers like Martha Stewart. And, if you’re straight, she’s a knockout. Hell, if you’re gay, she’s a knockout. She’s the kind of woman who turns both straight and gay men’s heads when she walks down the street, although the latter, I cheekily admit, might only be wondering if her bag is Prada or Ferragamo.
But that night, as the rain drummed down on the roof of our little cabin, it felt like Kevin and I were the only two people in the world. I remember how, after we finished with the cards, and me beating his ass three straight times at canasta, we relaxed together on the bed in Kevin’s room.
Now, don’t go thinking this was odd. As I said, Kevin and I had had countless sleepovers, starting at the age of seven. Although we didn’t often share a bed, we had fallen asleep next to one another on the couches at one of our houses. I never told Kevin how sometimes, during those nights, I would snuggle close and then, if he woke, pretend to be outraged by what I’d done in my sleep.
So it was not unusual we both were on his bed, our backs against the wall the bed was shoved up against, legs stretched out before us, dangling. We both had that one-too-many tumbler of Scotch in our hands, but we weren’t thinking about the headache and nausea surely waiting for us in the morning, but only how loose and warm it made us feel tonight.
Kevin babbled on and on, finally getting to the topic of our trip up here—his upcoming nuptials to Alana. He told me how he didn’t know if he was ready to give up his independence. He said that she could sometimes be controlling.
I told him these were all good points, worth considering.
He even told me how she wasn’t always so keen about going down on him and I just about lost it. I mean, really? Talk about casting pearls before swine! Was the girl crazy or what?
It just seemed natural to me then, with the lights low, the Scotch making our systems hum in a languid way, and with the rain’s staccato beat on the roof, to turn to Kevin and look into his eyes. I knew they were green, but in the dim illumination, they looked brown. And like wells I could fall into….
I thought something passed between us. A signal, maybe, an understanding.
And I did something I’d never done before. But, damn it, it felt right.
Yeah, you know what I did. I leaned forward and I kissed him. It wasn’t a playful little peck either, but a full-on kiss, with my tongue darting impetuously into his mouth. He was so surprised—and drunk—that, for a second, a delicious, life-altering, wished-it-would-go-on-forever second, he kissed me back. His hand even went up to the back of my neck for a moment.
And, in that tiny, tiny amount of time, I imagined that things could change, that this would be a scene like in one of those books I’d read where the straight guy magically turns gay—just for me.
For all time. Kev and I would have our happily-ever-after. It all flashed by, like they say one’s life flashes by in our final moments—our going back to Seattle and announcing to Alana that we were in love and always had been. The marriage with her could not take place because he was marrying me. The condo we would purchase together on Capitol Hill, overlooking the Space Needle and the Olympic Mountain range. All that stuff. And, of course, the more immediate—both of us hurrying to get out of our clothes, tossing them to the floor in our passion, in our yearning heat to feel the electric satin of a full body press of naked skin.
Kevin pushed gently against my chest and leaned back to break the kiss. He stared at me for a moment and I misinterpreted the stare as lust. I went in for another kiss and he pushed harder against my chest, holding me back.
He smiled and I’m happy to report there was nothing mocking or disdainful in it. “Dude,” he whispered. “You know better.”
And just like that, my dreams shattered, dropping on the floor in tinkling shards of regret.
I moved away from him, putting a few feet between us. I hung my head. “I’m so embarrassed. And ashamed,” I managed to get out.
He moved close to me and he laid a hand on my shoulder. “Look at me,” he said.
“I love you, man. I always have. As much I love anyone. You’re more than my best friend, you’re family. You know that, right?”
I nodded, feeling tears well up in my eyes.
He touched them away with his thumbs. “Now, I don’t want you to feel weird about what just happened. We were both a little drunk and we can always say it was the Scotch talkin’, but I want you to know I’m flattered. Hey, the fact that anyone finds a big lug like me, who farts constantly, attractive is a bonus in my book.”
We both laughed. Me, reluctantly at first, and then the giggles took over. I fell onto Kevin and soon, we were both short of breath, holding each other. He kissed the top of my head. “You’re my man. Always.”
The next day we said nothing about what had happened.
And now, well, you know the rest of the story. He’s up there, saying his vows to Alana.
And I’m happy for him.
Really I am.
But I can’t look at them. Not right now. It hurts too much. I turn away and let my gaze light on the crowd.
And that’s when I see him. And I’m not imagining it—he’s looking right at me. And when out gazes connect, he smiles.
I smile back and then glance down at the floor, a little embarrassed.
The priest is presenting the new married couple to the crowd. I join in the cheers and the applause.
And I turn to follow Kevin and Alana, the new husband and wife, in their processional out of the church.
He looks at me again as I pass his pew. He’s tall, with dark brown hair, almost black, and eyes so dark the pupils get lost in the irises. He has full lips that shift my mind into naughty mode. His five o’clock shadow gives me a visual cue to how it would feel against my face. His suit, dark blue, hangs perfectly on his lanky, yet broad-shouldered frame.
Our eyes connect in that way only two gay men can have (or two lesbians or a man and a woman who are hot for the other). The milliseconds pass and they cement us together. It’s just a bit longer than two strangers would glance at one another. It acknowledges interest, attraction—potential.
Outside the church, the drizzle that had come down earlier has been pushed away by a brilliant sun. Everything sparkles. There’s laughter, the chatter of a hundred happy voices, raised in celebration and excitement.
Someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn and it’s Alana. She’s beaming at me and her blue eyes project love. She hugs me and I feel just horrible for the thoughts I had about her new husband during their wedding. But hey, they were honest. At least I can say that.
She kisses my cheek and whispers in my ear, “I’m so glad you’re here. You really are Kevin’s best man.”
I have no words. I just pull her close to me.
At last, we pull away. There are too many others waiting to kiss this blushing bride. I step back, thinking to move away, when her hand on my arm stops me. “Hold on, there’s someone I want you to meet.”
She steps aside and it’s him. We grin at each other as though we share a secret.
“This is Ryan, my very best friend from college. He’s out here from Boston, but he’s thinking of moving to Seattle in the fall. He’s interviewing with Amazon.” She pulls me close and whispers in my ear once more, “And he’s dying to meet you.”
I reach my hand out and we touch. And it’s electric. There’s something about a wedding—all that concentrated hope and happiness. It makes me gleeful for the future.
“Ryan. I’m so happy to meet you.”
He winks. “Likewise.”
Rick R. Reed is all about exploring the romantic entanglements of gay men in contemporary, realistic settings. While his stories often contain elements of suspense, mystery and the paranormal, his focus ultimately returns to the power of love. He is the author of dozens of published novels, novellas, and short stories. He is a three-time EPIC eBook Award winner (for Caregiver, Orientation and The Blue Moon Cafe). He is also a Rainbow Award Winner for both Caregiver and Raining Men. Lambda Literary Review has called him, “a writer that doesn’t disappoint.” Rick lives in Seattle with his husband and a very spoiled Boston terrier. He is forever “at work on another novel.”
Rick’s latest novel is Dinner at Fiorello’s.
April 7, 2015
Today we interview the multi-genre writing Rebecca Cohen!
Dreamspinner Press: What is the most erotic scene you’ve ever written?
In Duty to the Crown (the second of my Elizabethan historical series, The Crofton Chronicles), I have Sebastian Hewel pretending to be prostitute, hanging around the seedy backstreets of South Bank in London. He’d slipped Anthony Redbourn note and told him to meet him. Anthony arrives and is more than happy to play along with Sebastian’s game. Especially as Sebastian has procured a room for their use at a nearby tavern. They act out their roles, Anthony tying Sebastian to the bed with his hose, and promising to get his money’s worth from Sebastian. Which he certainly does.
Dreamspinenr Press: Your new novel is a science-fiction gay romance. What were some joys and challenges writing a romance set in a sci-fi world?
In Under Glass I wanted to play with the idea that for certain people true love is genetically determined. I’m a biology geek, and so I created a concept called psychogenetics to describe how Ollie and Kai, the main characters in ‘Under Glass’, are linked and how the link is mediated by a special organ called the caerellon. Only in science fiction could I get to play and run away with such ideas. Another joy was making Kai a novice planet builder. His species creates planets, one of which is where Ollie was spirited away to by his mother as a young child. New races and planets mean I get to shape the evolution of a species and create their mythology, and that is so much fun. But there are things to be mindful of and it is a challenge to keep the balance right. ‘Under Glass’ is a romance, its focus is on the relationship between Ollie and Kai so the world building and background needs to support and not overwhelm the story. I’m also very aware not to drown the reader in jargon or make them think they’ve accidentally wandered into a lecture.
Dreamspinner Press: Do you listen to music when you write? Snack? Drink tea/coffee/vodka?
I’m very fortunate that I can write pretty much wherever and don’t need specific places or rituals. I tend to curl up on the sofa so I can still be the same room as my family and don’t have to lock myself away. My hubby does provide tea on demand and the odd glass of wine when I’m writing after dinner.
Dreamspinner Press: How did you begin writing gay romance?
I didn’t set out to write gay romance. In fact, I didn’t realise it was a separate genre. I was writing a high fantasy novel and the only way the plot would work was if the two male main characters were in a romantic relationship. When I came to try and get it published I started looking around for a suitable publisher and market and discovered that gay romance was a genre in its own right. The high fantasy story was ‘Servitude’, my first published novel with Dreamspinner Press.
Dreamspinner Press: What are you working on next for readers?
One glance at my back catalogue and you’ll see I like to play in different genres. I’ve written historicals, contemporaries, fantasy and sci fi, and where I’m heading next is a contemporary novella series based around an amateur dramatics society. The series is called ‘Treading the Boards’ and the first novella, ‘Overlay Dramatic’, is already contracted to DSP (tentative release this summer). I submitted the second, ‘Summer Season’, at the end of March and I’m currently writing the final one – a Christmas story called ‘He’s Behind You’ – which I plan to submit before my summer holiday at the beginning of June. They are romantic comedies, each with a different leading couple. The first one includes a papier-mâché goat and a very bad play called ‘Whoops, Vicar. There Goes My Trousers’.
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
March 3, 2015
DSP: What is your dream vacation?
Relaxation. Relaxation. Relaxation.
I’m one of these weird people who has no huge desire to travel overseas, and I’m happy to stay in Australia and explore our lovely land. I don’t mind the heat, but I’ve only ever seen snow once in my life – so I can’t picture cold vacations with snow, just hot ones with swimming.
My dream vacation would involve a house/cabin to stay in, not a hotel. The cabin would be set on the edge of a beach, or in the middle of a forest, and would be surrounded by nature. There would be lots and lots bushwalking nearby, swimming (either in an ocean or a natural pool in the tropical forest), maybe a bit of fishing, but it would be close enough to civilisation that I could get in the car and drive to a nice restaurant for dinner.
The point of the vacation would be to do nothing. I could sit and read if I wanted, or stroll through the bush, or jump in the ocean. Re.Lax.A.Tion.
DSP: Do you have a favorite character you’ve written so far?
**cringes with shame that she doesn’t love all her guys equally**
Yes. I’m sorry to say to my other characters, but I adore Jay from Loving Jay the most. He’s one of these characters you just cannot help but love. There’s not a single sliver of hate or malice in his body. He’s an open book to what he’s feeling, because he just opens his mouth and it all comes tumbling out.
He gets upset about animal testing for makeup. He takes over an hour to get dressed. His restaurant order is so complicated that you just want to shout at him. But gosh, you have to love him too. If Liam hadn’t snapped him up, I would be rushing over there and taking him home with me. Because most of all, Jay makes me happy. He’s such a sweet, over-the-top, joyful, zany, loving guy, that he makes everyone around him happy too.
What is the oddest place Shawn and Harley have sex in Shawn’s Law, your forthcoming novel?
Oh, ha ha ha. I’m not sure about it being an odd place, but one of my favourite scenes in this book is when Harley persuades Shawn to sneak off into the vegetation while at a beach. To me, sex is about having fun, not just pleasure. And Shawn’s Law has a lot of fun sex scenes.
In this scene, Harley and Shawn are visiting a local island off Perth for the day called Rottnest Island. It was originally named “Rats Nest Island” because the early European explorers thought it was infested with large rats. In fact, these animals are small marsupials called quokkas. (Think miniature kangaroos).
So Shawn and Harley are getting funky when:
Suddenly he stopped, completely freezing in my arms and giving me a frightened look.
“What is it?” I questioned urgently. Had he heard something? Was someone coming?
“Harley? Where are your hands?”
I frowned. My hands? I was more worried about his hand around our dicks to think about my own hands. I flexed my fingers on each hand and found one on his shoulder and one threaded through his black hair. “Here and here. Why?”
“If your hands are there, then what’s touching me on my bum?”
We stared at each other for endless seconds before I raised my head and stretched my neck to peer over his body. Two black eyes stared back, unblinking. The creature wiggled its nose at me, then took a funny little hop forward, touching his whiskers to Shawn’s naked flesh.
“Harley? Please tell me that it’s not a snake?”
I bit back my smile. Shawn got all embarrassed when I laughed at his calamities. “No. Not a snake. Just a quokka,” I informed him.
He jumped a mile, scrambling over my body so that he was scrunched in the bushes on the opposite side from the little marsupial.
I laughed. “Hey, buddy,” I crooned to the animal. “What are you doing here?”
“Touching my bum,” Shawn shrieked. “How dare he?”
I laughed harder. “He was just wondering what we were doing,” I soothed Shawn. “He wasn’t going to nibble your nuts or anything.”
“That’s what you think,” Shawn cried. “How do you know it’s a boy? Maybe he’s a queer quokka. Maybe he was coming over to join in?”
Poor Shawn – the wildlife are really out to get him in this book.
DSP: What is your writing space like? (if you wouldn’t mind sharing a picture we’d love that!)
My writing space is a white desk in what is known to my family as “The Craft Room.”
Several years back, we extended our house and everyone got an extra space to call their own. My husband got a theatre room where he has the biggest, shiniest, (and most expensive) home theatre system going, complete with speakers and fancy do-dahs, that’s also hooked up to PS3 and Wii. My kids received a huge multi-purpose room that houses their toys, their drawings, their craft activities, their TV, their DVDs, etc. This is where they spend their time if they’re not at school or outside playing.
And off to the side of this huge room is The Craft Room for me.
In this room I’m surrounded by “my” stuff – my paperback books, my craft magazines, my craft projects I’ve completed, my pictures for inspiration, my half-finished projects, my one-day-I’ll-finish-this projects, Christmas cards from dear friends, toys kept from my childhood, and framed pictures of my book covers. It’s very junkie, its window has a view of the fence and the neighbour’s air-conditioning system (yay), but it’s home and comfort for me.
And most importantly? I have clear sight of the kids in their space so I can keep an eye on them.
DSP: Coffee or tea?
Coffee, coffee, coffee all the way.
DSP: Chocolate or peanut butter?
Chocolate. Especially white chocolate with something gooey in the center.
DSP: Print books or ebooks?
Both. My budget says eBooks. Portability says eBooks. But you can’t help loving print books. It’s so much easier to browse a bookshelf, than scroll through lists and try to remember the name of the book.
DSP: Wine or beer?
Um. Neither. I actually don’t drink alcohol. I tried it when I was 18, but I didn’t like it, so I prefer cola when I go out. Did you need a designated driver?
DSP: Cats or dogs?
Cats. I have three. All of them are sitting less than a meter from me. It’s their dinner time and they think I may forget.
Renae Kaye is a lover and hoarder of books who thinks libraries are devilish places because they make you give the books back. She consumed her first adult romance book at the tender age of thirteen and hasn’t stopped since. After years – and thousands of stories! – of not having book characters do what she wants, she decided she would write her own novel and found the characters still didn’t do what she wanted. It hasn’t stopped her though. She believes that maybe one day the world will create a perfect couple – and it will be the most boring story ever. So until then she is stuck with quirky, snarky and imperfect characters who just want their story told.
Renae lives in Perth, Western Australia and writes in five minute snatches between the demands of two kids, a forbearing husband, too many pets, too much housework and her beloved veggie garden. She is a survivor of being the youngest in a large family and believes that laughter (and a good book) can cure anything.
March 3, 2015
He stirred on the bed, not quite awake, not completely asleep, the sensation of warm air moving over his skin odd enough to rouse him from his sleep. Prying open sleep-glazed eyes, he blinked slowly, waiting for his vision to clear. It took longer now than it once had, though he refused to acknowledge that side of his age. He’d turned forty last month, and some days he felt it. Memories filtered through the haze of sleep as he stared at the expanse of white sand and blue water. Campoverde. Vacation. Private villa. He’d stretched out on the canopy bed on their terrace, enjoying the sight of Tom playing in the surf with their dog. He must have fallen asleep because the shadows had all but disappeared since morning. Sitting up, he looked around for his absent lover, wondering where Tom had disappeared to. A cold drink pressed against his sweaty back answered his question.
“Here, love,” Tom’s voice murmured in his ear. “Have something to drink. You wouldn’t want to get dehydrated.”
Jake took the glass and drained it in one long gulp, the crisp flavor of fresh orange juice incredibly refreshing against the heat of the afternoon. He glanced down toward the water and saw the beach was deserted. “It looks like everyone’s gone inside for their siestas,” he observed huskily. “I seem to have taken mine early.”
Tom’s grin widened. “Then we’ll just have to think of something else to do while it’s too hot to go out. Let’s go inside.”
“Why?” Jake asked. “We have a perfectly suitable bed right here and there’s no one to see. They’re all tucked away in their own beds.”
“Exhibitionist,” Tom teased automatically even as he stripped the T-shirt over his head, revealing skin darkened from their week here and muscles toned from the exercises that had become part of his routine as he recovered from his shoulder surgery. He’d expanded that workout over the years as his strength and flexibility increased, but he never missed a day. His body suffered too much when he did.
“You’re one to talk,” Jake retorted, reaching up to pull Tom down next to him, pressing their bare chests together. He ran callused fingers over the smooth skin of his lover’s side, firmly enough not to tickle, but still lightly. It was too hot to rush. Besides, they were on vacation. He wanted to linger over every inch of Tom’s body, to take his time and reaffirm the bonds that ran to the very depths of their beings. He fingered the charms that still hung around Tom’s neck, lingering on the newest addition, a half heart whose mate lay on a chain in the bedroom with Jake’s wallet and watch. He bent his head and kissed the muddled array of trinkets quickly before lifting the lanyard over Tom’s head, tenderly untangling it from the disheveled curls. He wanted nothing between their bodies, not even an expression of their love.
Tom smiled and nuzzled the strong hand, welcoming Jake’s attentions as always. Deciding his lover had the right idea, he reached for the shorts Jake wore and pushed them out of the way, leaving the blond deliciously naked. He hoped he looked half as good when he was forty. He ran his hand up one solid thigh toward the shaft that had jumped to attention the minute Tom joined Jake on the bed. “Glad to see me?” he teased, fingers dancing up and down the awakening cock.
Jake growled and rolled Tom beneath him. “Imp,” he scolded, grinding down against Tom’s groin.
Tom just laughed and pushed Jake off. “Uh-uh,” he scolded. “You lost the bet, which means I get to top the rest of the week if I want to, and I definitely want to.”
Jake sighed in mock resignation, his legs parting without conscious thought, just the idea of Tom inside him enough to make him achingly aware of the emptiness that nothing but his lover could fill. “Tell me you remembered to bring out supplies.”
“Of course I remembered,” Tom sniffed, “but I can think of more enjoyable ways to open you up for me.” He stripped his own shorts off, straddling Jake’s shoulders, carefully feeding his cock into his lover’s mouth. Jake swallowed him down immediately, drawing a deep groan from Tom’s chest as he bent to lick a long stripe down Jake’s erection on his way to his ultimate goal. Jake spread his legs wide, lifting his knees to give Tom better access to his ass. Grinning, Tom ran his tongue over hairy balls and farther down into the musky cleft of Jake’s ass, tasting sweat and desire.
The moan that escaped Jake’s chest vibrated around the head of Tom’s cock, convincing him to hurry his preparations. He curled his tongue and stabbed the tip into the clenching portal that guarded the deepest recesses of Jake’s body. It would open for him momentarily, no part of his lover off-limits to him, just as he would hold no part of himself back from Jake. His thumbs massaged the exterior muscle as his tongue worked its way inside, stretching the always tight sheath. It didn’t matter how many times they did this. Jake always hugged him snugly when they made love.
Jake bucked up against his mouth, driving him even deeper, making Tom smile. His lover was such a greedy slut of a bottom when he gave in and let Tom take him. Adding a long finger next to his tongue, he probed deeper, widening the channel so that their joining would bring only pleasure. He deliberately avoided Jake’s prostate, not wanting this to be over too soon.
He half expected Jake to finger-fuck him given their position, but his lover’s hands stayed above his waist, twiddling with his nipples, tugging occasionally on the hair under his arms. He added a second finger, Jake’s talented mouth making it difficult to take things as slowly as he’d planned. When his digits could slide easily in and out of the stretching hole, Tom pulled away, grabbed the lube, and squirted some on his cock quickly as he turned around. “Ready?” he asked, the head of his erection seeking entrance.
“Always ready for you, lover,” Jake replied instantly, tilting his hips eagerly.
Tom smiled and slid home, mating their bodies as they had mated their lives, two halves of one unbreakable whole. They groaned in unison, their lips meeting blindly, each tasting himself in the other’s mouth, the mingled flavors only adding to their desire.
Tom’s hips thrust of their own volition until Jake caught them, holding his lover still against him. “Slowly,” he urged. “Slow and deep until we come just from being together this way.”
Tom nodded and rocked against Jake slowly, never withdrawing, just stirring his erection inside his lover until the sense of connection was so strong Tom wondered why he couldn’t see the ties binding them together. The emotion, the desire built and built and built until neither of them could hold back any longer, their release spooling out of them in long, slow waves.
They lay together panting, foreheads pressed together as their heartbeats settled. Jake lifted one arm over his head to find Tom’s, twining their fingers together, eyes drifting shut again as satiation sapped what little energy the heat had not already stolen. Smiling, Tom dropped the mosquito netting on the bed to provide them with a modicum of privacy should anyone pass by before they awoke. Then he stretched out next to his lover and joined him in dreams.
Ariel Tachna lives outside of Houston with her husband, her daughter and son, and their two dogs. Before moving there, she traveled all over the world, having fallen in love with both France, where she found her husband, and India, where she dreams of retiring some day. She’s bilingual with snippets of four other languages to her credit, and is as in love with languages as she is with writing.
February 3, 2015
A soft knock at the door.
Martin stirred, stretching arms over his head. The book on his chest fell, plopping to the floor. He’d fallen asleep reading it last night.
“Come in.” Did the bed-and-breakfast include room service? He was too fuzzy-headed to remember.
“Sorry, did I wake you?” A friendly, freckled face peered round the corner, smiling apologetically.
Martin’s mouth fell open. The guy had striking red, flame-like hair that seemed to have a life of its own. It was long, reaching nearly to his shoulders. Freckles stood out on his pale face, his expression shy.
“Josh?” asked Martin.
“Hi, Mr. Winston.” He ducked his head a little, blushing. “Didn’t think you’d remember me.”
“Of course I remember you.” He sat up, pulling the sheets modestly to his chest. A few years ago, when he was a young tutor still working on his teaching degree, Josh had been his favorite student.
Josh was only a few years younger, and they’d both felt a friendly connection, but kept from getting too close. Martin was trying too hard to be professional to allow it. But there had been something about their interactions that made him wish he was younger or Josh was older.
“Do you work here now?” Martin fumbled for his glasses. Josh’s features appeared more clearly. The last few years had transformed Josh from shy teen to handsome young man. Their slight age difference didn’t seem to matter much now.
I’m an idiot for thinking about such things. It must be his morning wood doing the talking.
“Er, yeah, I’m the cook.” Josh reached up to push back a few strands of his gleaming red hair. “Just wanted to bring you your tea.” He held up a blue mug. “I hope I’ll see you again later. Sorry if I woke you.”
“You—ah—thanks,” mumbled Martin, wishing he knew what to say. It had been easier when they had rigorous homework assignments to get through.
Josh closed the door quietly, and Martin stared at its warm wooden texture, feeling bereft. Josh’s cute face and striking red hair had filled his dreams more than once, although he always resolutely pushed away the images when he was awake enough to realize. It wasn’t nice to fantasize about a seventeen-year-old. But Josh wasn’t seventeen now…
* * * * *
Martin went for a walk after breakfast, hoping he’d see his favorite ex-pupil.
The bed and breakfast was at a peaceful, wooded area in beautiful Vermont. Martin needed to rest up from a difficult year, catch up on his reading, and start writing the novel he’d been putting off for years now.
He rounded a corner of the quaint building and stopped suddenly. Ahead was a small wooden bench, where a familiar redheaded figure sat looking up at the trees.
Martin stood still, just watching. The breeze moved red hair slightly, and Martin felt his throat tighten with longing, and then his trousers, too.
He started to retreat, embarrassed, but his feet made a sound on a small branch; a little crunch. Josh turned his head. “Hi, Mr. Winston.” His smile held an apologetic question. “Sorry, you don’t have to go just because I’m here. You won’t disturb me. Sit down if you want.” He patted the bench. “There’s plenty of room.”
Martin cleared his throat, cheeks heating. He knew he was just being shy and awkward. As usual.
“Thanks,” he mumbled. He moved to sit beside Josh, wondering if he could fake the old attitude, that he related to Josh as someone older and more mature.
“Do you still tutor kids?” Josh cast him a shy look. It was an intimate look, full of humility and interest.
“Ah, no, I’m a teacher now. High school English. Sometimes I miss tutoring, though. Especially when I got to work with kids like you. You actually wanted to learn.”
Josh blushed. “But I was terrible at it.”
“You weren’t. Learning disabilities don’t make you terrible.” He hesitated, not sure if he was allowed to ask. But he’d already said so much. “Do you have trouble reading recipes when you cook?”
Josh shook his head. “I make most things from formulas that I learned in culinary school. I keep them up here.” He tapped his head. “And I make my own variations.” He shrugged. “It would be easy to mix up the numbers and letters in a cookbook, but I know what I’m doing now. I know if I misread twelve as twenty-one, because it doesn’t feel right. But mostly I don’t follow recipes at all. Sorry, I’m going on and on.” He pressed his knees together, hands between them as if to keep them from fluttering around, betraying his nervousness.
Martin longed to reach over and give his knee a gentle squeeze. He cleared his throat. “I’m glad you’ve done well. I always thought you would. That breakfast was wonderful, by the way.”
They sat next to one another in silence for a moment. Yet somehow it didn’t feel awkward.
“It’s so nice to see you,” said Josh again. “I think of you sometimes, wished I could show you I grew up…worth something.” He blushed, ducking his head. “That…came out wrong.”
Martin made a sound in his throat. “Oh, Josh, you were always worth something.”
“I…I know…I just…” He looked at Martin now, his ears pink, his smile slightly naughty. “I wanted you to see me as an adult. I guess you know I had a crush on you.”
“Did you?” Martin found himself grinning, wide and teasing and full of delight. He stretched out a little, putting one arm along the back of the bench—almost but not quite around Josh’s shoulders. “Tell me more.”
Josh laughed, ducking his head, looking giddy with relief. “Maybe a big crush,” he admitted.
Their eyes met, both gazes filled with relief and something more.
Maybe this unexpected reunion could be the start of something wonderful.
Hollis Shiloh writes love stories about men, also called gay romance or m/m romance, with the preferred genres of contemporary, historical, and fantasy. Hollis’s stories tend towards the sweet rather than the spicy. When not writing, the author enjoys reading, retro music, and being around animals.