“No Quarter” Day: Excerpt the First.

April 3, 2012

Here’s an excerpt from “No Quarter.” It’s a scene between the Archangel of Death, Samael, and Archangel Gabriel’s two adopted children, Mira and John. It provides some of the back history of the Archangels in the form of a story told by Samael.

Samael smiled at Mira as she joined John in sprawling on the floor of the living room. While some of the Heavenly Host might sneer at the prospect of spending time with Gabriel’s adopted human children, and consider it little more than babysitting and a demeaning trial and waste of time at that, Samael was entirely the opposite. Humans were made by God; Archangels were commanded to guide and protect them. To Samael, it was as simple as that.

Gabriel’s two children were also two humans that Samael was deeply fond of. Mira, with her long, wavy blonde hair and green eyes, was a delight; her laughter was infectious, and she had always, even from when she had been a small child, questioned him closely about the meaning of the stories he had told her. He had helped Gabriel teach her, helped raise her, comforted her in the night when she had woken from nightmares while Gabriel had been away on a mission. He had bonded with her almost from the moment Gabriel had handed her to him as a tiny two-year-old toddler, her eyes wide and glassy with tears, her lower lip wobbling as she tried not to weep as he took her into his arms. She had been so small then, so delicate, he had been half-afraid he would break her. But Gabriel trusted him, and Gabriel’s trust and confidence in him were not things that Samael intended to lose. When Mira had smiled a small, shy, hopeful smile at him that day, she had reached out with her tiny hands and claimed his heart. Samael was as devoted to Gabriel’s daughter as he was to his son, as he was to the rest of his kind.

John, Gabriel’s younger child, had come to Gabriel in tragic circumstances, and Samael remembered the day that he, Gabriel, and Remiel had found the infant, squalling helplessly upon a crude altar in the jungles of South America. He had felt rage unlike anything he had experienced for thousands of years as he had beheld the zealot who strove to sacrifice the child to the Son of God. Gabriel had lopped the head off the man wielding a knife above the baby’s sternum without a word and scooped the child up in his arms, as Samael turned and laid waste to the cultists who had rushed to defend the man who would sacrifice an infant.

That day was one of the days that Samael, Archangel of Death, would never forget, and he had seen many such days. John, once he had settled into life with Gabriel and Mira, had grown into a quiet, shy, intense child. His intensity had given him a gravitas that made him appear much older than he really was. He had eschewed the companionship of humans his own age, preferring to spend his time with animals, and at school he had spent his free time in the library or helping his biology teachers. He was as introverted as Mira was extroverted and had dark blond hair and hazel eyes.

The two children also resembled Gabriel. Perhaps it was a mark of the Archangel who had raised them as his own that had somehow imprinted itself upon them, but there was a familial resemblance that sometimes made Samael do a double take. Gabriel had adopted children from all over the world over the many centuries of his life, and none of them had resembled him so closely physically as Mira and John.

Now, with Gabriel away training humans in specialized combat for Michael, Samael had taken it upon himself to spend the day with Gabriel’s children. The way they called him “Uncle” never failed to stir his Grace, the light of an angel’s soul, and he treasured every time they used the term with him. While he and Gabriel were not brothers, they were of the Archangel Brotherhood, and Mira and John’s love for him as their uncle was one of the most precious things in Samael’s life.

He toyed with a feather that had dropped from one of his wings, the black plume longer than any of those from a peacock’s tail. Angel wings were more than nine feet long at their fullest stretch, Archangel wings being longer still. Thus, their feathers were longer, finer, and stronger than those of birds.

“Is that from your wing, Uncle Sammy?” John regarded the feather in fascination.

“Yes.” Samael smiled, holding the feather out so they could see it more clearly. There was a deep, rich indigo sheen to the feather, more visible when direct sunlight shone on it. “From time to time, we lose feathers. It is a natural part of our biology.”

“Papa’s wings are like vulture’s wings, he said.” Mira was staring transfixed at the feather. “They’re all black and gray. Are yours like his too?”

“No, child, mine are just black. Save for this,” Samael indicated the sheen of indigo at the edge of the feather with his index finger. Against the darkness of his skin, the blackness of the feather seemed even more intense. “That is the color of my power.”

“Purple?” John looked confused. “Death’s purple?”

Samael laughed heartily at that. “No, dear one. Indigo. Death is shadows and light, death is everywhere, but death is not the end. Indigo is a mood and a color and a shadow. So it is with my power.”

“What about the other Archangels?”

“What about them, Mira?” Samael smiled fondly at her.

“What are their wings like? What color is their power?”

“Ah.” Samael sat back comfortably, idly turning the feather between his thumb and forefinger. “Michael’s power is gold, and his wings are russet, like those of an eagle owl. Gabriel, as you know, has black, white and gray mottled wings, like a vulture, and his power is silver. Raphael’s power and wings are both white, like a dove. Uriel’s wings are a dark gray, like a hawk, and his power is orange, like fire. Mine, as you can see with this feather, are black and my power is indigo. Metatron’s wings are mottled white and pale gray like a goose, and his power is pale blue. Tzadkiel’s wings are spotted and banded black on white, like a peregrine falcon, and his power is copper colored. Remiel’s wings are russet, tan, white and black, like those of a Mandarin duck, and his power is deep green. Haniel, Archangel of Love, has wings that are a soft gray, like the gray dove, and his power is red. And Raziel, our youngest Archangel, has dusky brown and white wings, like the swan goose, and his power is the color of bronze.”

Samael watched the two young people as they digested his words. Mira’s expression was thoughtful as she rested her chin in her hand, propped up on her elbow as she lay on her stomach. John, leaning back against the armchair in the corner of the living room with one of his legs stretched out, the other tucked beneath him, wore a slight frown on his handsome face.

“What troubles you, John?” Samael smiled. “I can see you are thinking hard.”

“Nothing really,” John admitted. “I just… they don’t say any of this stuff in the Bible or any of the other holy books.”

“No,” Samael agreed, “they do not.”

“Why?”

“Because there are things that humans are not meant to know. Consider how many wars have been fought because of religious disagreements. How many more would there be if such things were common knowledge?” Samael shrugged. “It is how things are. We are told that the information that exists about angelkind is enough for humanity to understand and no more and no less.”

“But you and Pops tell us stuff that isn’t in the Bible. Or stuff that’s hinted at,” John pointed out.

“True. We do. But you two are not about to declare war upon a nation, are you?”

John grinned. “No. That sounds like too much mingling with people for me.”

Mira laughed. “You’ll be the mystery man wherever we live, Mr. Solitary with his horses. I feel like I should buy you a cowboy hat or something,” she teased.

John shrugged. “Animals I get. People I don’t.” He was silent for a moment, and then, as Samael tilted his head to one side, John said, “But you’re not brothers, are you, I mean, not like we humans think of brothers, right?”

“No, we are not related in the way that humans define brothers or sisters.” Samael smiled a small smile. “We are of the choir of Archangels, which is best described as being akin to a religious order. You are both aware of there being many religious orders, such as the Brothers of the Christian Schools or the Christian Brotherhood of Ireland or the Little Sisters of the Assumption. The men and women who are part of these orders address each other as brother or sister; thus it is with us. We are, however, much, much older.”

Mira laughed at that. “You don’t look a day over forty, Uncle.”

“Thank you, dearest Mira.” Samael smiled warmly at her. “Does that description help you, John?”

“Yeah, yeah, it does.” John grinned. “I know angels are a totally different species to humans, but the way you describe the different choirs of angels as like different religious orders makes a lot of sense. I was sort of thinking it might be like different countries or something, but you’re all the same race, so that wouldn’t really work as an analogy.”

“Quite so.” Samael nodded. “You are wise, John.”

John flushed. “Not really,” he demurred.

“Uncle, can you explain how angel society works?” Mira canted her head slightly to one side. “Papa tried to explain, but he totally confused me.”

Samael chuckled. “Angels are a species,” he explained. “As you know, we are divided into choirs—what humans would call races as well as religious orders, as I explained previously. Thus, I am of the choir of Archangels. Gabriel commands the choir of Seraphim, who are the warrior legions of Heaven. Michael is the Commander in Chief of all of us, but he is not a ruler; his title is Prince of Heaven, yes, but he does not rule over us. We are ultimately responsible to God Himself.

“The Archangels are ten in number,” he continued, “and there are so few of us compared to the other choirs because we are the most powerful, the strongest, the most feared weapons and tools of Heaven. Even those whom you would consider to be noncombatant: Raphael, the Healer; Remiel, the Merciful; Haniel, the voice of Love. All of us fight when we are commanded to do so, and all of us have a blade and armor. We are the first made, along with Lucifer himself. After us came the other choirs. The Seraphim, Ophanim, Thrones, Dominions, Cherubim and the like. They all answer to us and we to God. Does that explain the structure of society of angelkind?”

Mira nodded slowly. “I think so. It’s like a race that’s governed by a body of ten and you answer to God?”

“Quite so, beloved Mira,” Samael said with a warm smile. He regarded them both thoughtfully and changed the subject to one he thought more important. “How do you both feel about this proposed move of Gabriel’s?”

“Good.” Mira nodded. “No, really, I do. I mean, I like it here, but it’s been really uncomfortable for a few months now. I wish what happened to me hadn’t, but… I can’t say I’m going to miss this place.”

“Same here.” John leaned back, resting his hands behind his head. “Wherever family is and my horses, I’m good.”

“You are good people,” Samael said simply.

“So are you, Uncle.” Mira smiled at him. “Can you tell us a story?”

He chuckled at that. “I see, you flatter me in the hopes of tales of the past!”

“You tell good stories.” The smile broadened into a grin. “You tell us stuff that even the Apocrypha only hints at. It puts things into perspective. Wasn’t that what you said yesterday, John?” She turned to her brother.

“Yeah, I did.” John reached over to ruffle her hair, and she lightly smacked his knee in retaliation. “Ow, brat.”

“Oh hush, you, I didn’t hurt you.” Mira rolled her eyes theatrically, and John laughed. She turned back to Samael. “So, will you please tell us a story?”

“A story, then. What sort of a story?”

“From the early days,” John said instantly.

“On Earth,” Mira added.

“The early days on Earth.” Samael pondered it and smiled slightly. “As you wish.”

As Mira and John got comfortable on the floor, Samael began to speak.

“When the Earth was newly made, there were three races of beings. There were the angels, the demons, and the monsters. There were no humans then, not yet, for God had decided to send us down to ensure that His creation was safe and would be welcoming when humanity began to walk the Earth. The Earth was young and beautiful, and her seas were a rich, lustrous blue, her lands green and lush.

“The demons sought dominion, and they went forth, born as they were out of the first moments of Lucifer’s rage after his Fall. The Fallen Ones, angels who had followed him to Hell, remained at his side, and these newly made demons swarmed up out of their natural realm and onto the Earth.

“They strove at first to draw the monsters to their banner—they wheedled, they promised, they cajoled. And when their entreaties did not work, they used more foul means, but still the monsters remained firm and would not be drawn into their conflict. The monsters, what humanity calls such creatures as vampires, werewolves, shape shifters, djinn, faeries, dryads, naiads—all of these creatures and more—were born out of God’s regret, born out of His tears as Michael threw Lucifer down into Gehenna. They were—are—God’s children, even as we all are.

“One night, a werewolf by the name of Aiyah sought out Michael. She was weary and mortally wounded when she found him in council with the rest of us, but she survived long enough to tell us what the demons were doing. They were torturing the monsters, who sought only to survive and embrace the world made by God in peaceful existence, into doing their bidding. And by doing so, they were driving some of the clans of the monsters insane.

“She died in Michael’s arms, and he wept, for she was a valiant and steadfast friend to us all, and then he took up his blade, which shone with the golden light of his power. ‘Archangels,’ he said, ‘we must go forth and punish these iniquities so they know their place. They must not overrun this planet; they must not take control or break the balance that God wishes us to maintain’.

“We rose with him and we went out and we made war. Dreadful, terrible war, the first war outside of Heaven. This war was long and brutal, and it drew out those gifts we were made with when God first created us out of His thought. Gabriel, the General; Raphael, the Healer; Uriel, the Guardian; Michael, the Commander in Chief.

“It was sixty years into the war as you now measure time, and Gabriel went to Raziel and Uriel and commanded them to build a place of safety. For, he said, our forces were being injured, and we were not omniscient. Raphael and Remiel would need a secure place to practice their arts of healing and mercy, and the monsters who fought beside us and the Seraphim, Gabriel’s warrior angels, would need a place to rest in between battles. And so Raziel and Uriel went from the plain where battle raged and found a valley, a rich, beautiful valley, verdant and green with plant life, and there, too, were the first animals: unicorns and dragons, saber cats and mammoths. There was water—a crystal clear river that mankind later named the Euphrates, and there were flowers, wheat, fruit and vegetable plants and great, leafy trees stretching as far as the valley went.

“Together, Raziel and Uriel built a wall, a great, high wall, one hundred and forty feet high and sixty foot thick surrounding this beautiful valley. They created a gate out of Celestial steel and covered the stones of the wall with their power, protecting and reinforcing it. And then, within the boundaries of the wall, they built a city, a city the likes of which no human has seen since they were evicted from it by the command of God.

“Eden, Raziel named it, with its spiraling towers that almost touched the sky, its broad promenades and buildings with many windows to let in the light and air. Eden, which in the old language of angelkind means sanctuary. And Uriel left the city to gather up the wounded and Raphael and Remiel, who were caring for them all, and bring everyone there so that the injured might recover and heal.

“And Michael and Gabriel came with them, and Michael wept tears that became glass as soon as they touched the sand of the desert that lay for miles outside the borders of Eden, glass that was stronger than any glass that has been created since. Such glass can still be found in places in the Sahara and the Gobi. His tears were of relief and of joy, for he knew that God’s plan was truly working as it should be and progressing as it had been foretold, for Eden had been a concept that he had long discussed with God before there was such a thing as Time.”

“This is better than any movie,” Mira said softly as Samael paused to take a breath.

“No kidding,” John agreed.

The two of them fell silent as Samael took up the story once more. “God looked down on the workings of Raziel and Uriel and the destruction and carnage caused by the war fought by our kind, and He decided to end it. The demons were banished again to Hell, bound there by spells and sigils and wards that some foolish beings have tried to use to their own ends, raising demons for their own selfish purposes. He blessed those of the monsters who had fought with us and gave them lands and places wherein they could prosper. And then He blessed Eden and called it the Cradle of Civilization.

“There was a great, blinding light then, and we all shielded our eyes against it, for even though our true forms are bright light and energy, the light of God is brighter still. When it faded, we saw there in the city of Eden, you. Humans. God’s voice was heard then as He issued us our first commandment in that place.

“‘Thou, my beloved children, angels and Archangels, will guide, nurture, and protect these humans. Thou wilt serve them as thou serve Me, for such is My will, and the rewards shall be great.’

“There was great rejoicing, and Michael sent those of the Host who were not Archangel back to Heaven, leaving the ten Archangels of God to walk the Earth and serve. And the rewards were great and continue to be great, yes, even after the expulsion from Eden. For that, too, was a necessity, and it was intended to be a blessing in the long run and not a curse.”

Samael fell silent then and watched Mira and John who were gazing at him with expressions of open awe on their faces.

“Wow,” John said finally. “I’ve never heard that story before.”

“It has not been told since Adam was the Prince of the Garden,” Samael said reflectively. “He was a modest soul and his wife also.”

“Who told it?” Mira asked.

“Tzadkiel sometimes, Metatron other times.” Samael’s voice was soft. “Uriel, Michael, Gabriel, and I patrolled the walls of the city and kept guard. Raziel wrote a guide for Adam, a book of secrets and mysteries. Raphael made sure there was no unhealed sickness or injuries, Haniel arranged marriages.”

“Where did the Grigori come into it, then?” John asked.

“Long after those warm, peaceful days.” Samael sighed sadly. “They came, they watched as they were commanded. And then Ishtahar was born. When she was sixteen, she was made to be high priestess of Semjaza, for she was born at a certain time when the stars and moon were in a certain place in the sky, and so it was her destiny.”

“The one they call the Mother of Nephilim?” Mira’s eyes had grown large. “Because wasn’t Lilith the first wife of Adam and she went off and had giants as children?”

“Quite so, beloved Mira. The stories and histories gloss over the pain that Ishtahar endured in her role as high priestess and unwilling wife to an angel, but Semjaza was smitten with her, and he had to have her.” Samael shook his head sadly. “He was always selfish. He broke the laws of God—angels must not marry humans or breed with them—and so he was punished by Gabriel and locked into the constellation of Aquila. The other Grigori who believed as Semjaza did were thrown down into Hell and imprisoned there by Michael. It was just. Ishtahar was a quiet, shy, beautiful girl, she was intelligent and kind and compassionate, and she did not deserve the agonies he forced upon her.”

“Ishtahar… wait, isn’t she Uncle Remi’s girlfriend?” John frowned in confusion. “If the Grigori were punished, then how can they be together?”

Samael chuckled. “We—angelkind—are barren. We cannot procreate. We cannot breed, God saw to that after the Grigori were punished. We can, however, love, and so we do. We do not marry for that is not our way—that is a human ritual. We have our own rituals for lasting relationships. Generally, we do not take long-term partners that are human. It is… painful to do so. We live forever and humans do not, and the death of loved ones who are mortal is painful. Ishtahar, for her part, was punished with immortality, made to wander the world forever and made barren. Harsh, perhaps, but she has turned what was seen as a punishment into a blessing and done much with her extended life. She and Remiel are well suited to each other, and he adores her. God approved the match—neither can have children now and both are immortal. She is no longer truly human by virtue of her immortality.”

Mira’s face screwed up in thought as she turned that around in her head. “It sounds complicated,” she said finally.

“These things are often thought to be so,” Samael agreed. “Yet they are actually very simple. However, it is the simple things that are complex because of their simplicity.”

Mira blinked several times. “What? You totally lost me, Uncle!”

John laughed. “He lost me around Albuquerque, Mir. About all I got out of that was that angels don’t marry or have natural-born kids and Ishtahar’s immortal and no longer human.”

“That is correct.” Samael smiled a small smile. “In sum, that is correct.”

“You couldn’t just say that?” Mira asked.

“I could, but then it would have less impact, would it not?”

“Are you sure you weren’t a school teacher as well as an Archangel?” Mira teased, and Samael laughed loudly.

“No, dear child, not I. I am feared because I am Death. It is you and your brother, and your father, who welcome me most, who do not fear me. And so, I tell you these things so that you understand and appreciate what it is we all do.”

Mira got to her feet and moved to the sofa, sitting beside Samael and hugging him. It was an awkward hug, but Samael didn’t appreciate it any less as he hugged her in return.

“So angels don’t marry,” John mused, “then what do you do when you’re in lasting relationships, as you put it?”

“We bond.”

“Bond?”

“Yes.”

“And that means…?”

Samael smiled. “That is a story for another day. You two need rest, for the hour is growing late. I will tell Gabriel that you are both excited for the move to Deep Bay.”

“Fine.” John sighed with great exaggeration as he got to his feet. “But you should rest too, Uncle Sammy, okay?”

“Okay,” Samael said with a grin. “I will.”

“Good.” John gave him a quick hug and left the room.

Mira stretched up to kiss Samael’s cheek. “Thank you for telling us the story,” she said softly. “It was amazing.”

As she stood up, Samael held out the feather to her. “Here, child. For you.”

Wide-eyed, Mira took it. “Really?”

“Really.” Samael smiled. “Take it as my gift to you and sleep well.”

Mira’s fingers closed around the feather, and she nodded hard. “Thank you,” she said. “Good night, Uncle Sammy.”

“Good night, child.”

Samael sat back as she left the room, turning off the lamps with a thought, and reflected on the wonders of humanity as he waited for Gabriel to return home.

Quick Final Note: The contests end… And a few sentences of not-quite-sex from Delsyn’s Blues

January 2, 2012

… three days from today, which will be Thursday 1/5. So if you haven’t entered, there’s time, and if you have, please be patient.

As long as I’m here, a teeny little titilating excerpt from Delsyn’s Blues:

Sonny looked at him and he got warm. More than a little. Sonny’s hair, wet and dark, sending rivulets meandering down his just-cut-enough belly, pooling in his navel and in the hollows inside his hip bones, then soaking into the rough white towel he’d wrapped around and tucked at the waist. Luki’s breath went a little ragged, and he raised his eyes from the spectacle to find Sonny watching him back.

Sonny’s eyes had that look. The one that said “take me, you’re in charge,” but conveyed clearly that he knew Luki was twisted right around his finger. Or his dick. Didn’t so much matter which. Luki didn’t really care who had whom by the balls, so to speak, and he could play too. He licked his fat lips, knowing quite well what that did to Sonny. “Come here,” he said, not so much a request as an offer.

Sonny rolled his eyes, but it didn’t mask the heat rising up his neck. “What, again?”
***

Whatever books you’re spending time with now, folks, happy reading. Au Revoir!

Excerpt—Vasquez and James in Seattle

January 2, 2012

The famous and unique Rachel the Pig returns to Pike Street Market after being treated for injuries sustained ina pig vs car accident

*

LUKI had miraculously woken up only fifteen minutes after Sonny. It would be a busy day, he thought, so as soon as he had crept out on the balcony for a cigarette and had a second cup of coffee in his hand, he joined his lover… his partner… his fiancé, for God’s sake, for morning ablutions. The hotel had a big bathroom, surprisingly practical rather than luxurious, and while Luki stood at the sink brushing his very white, very perfect teeth, Sonny sat on the edge of the tub clipping his toenails. It made Luki smile inside; it meant Sonny planned on sex, which hadn’t seemed appropriate the previous night. And about which Luki had doubts with the stitches in his thigh still feeling like they were going to rip out every time he turned his leg or put weight on it.

“Don’t worry,” Sonny said, “I’ll do all the work.”

He reads my mind. Not fair. Still, watching Sonny out of the corner of his eye, the sleek stretches of hard muscle and long hair falling over his shoulders, his own sex responded with a quick leap.

“Not now, though.”

Luki rolled his eyes, sure Sonny couldn’t see him.

“Don’t roll your eyes, Luki—”

What, he heard me roll my eyes?

“We have to leave, and you know it.”

“I guess we should go see Kaholo and….” Luki choked his next words back and very deliberately started heating his razor under hot water. He’d been just about to say “and the ’phews,” which was how he and Sonny had jokingly referred to the boys when there were still three and Delsyn had been one of them. He started again, “I guess we should go see Kaholo and Jackie and Josh. Once again, he felt he was missing some piece of the puzzle about what was going on. Something he should have his finger on, but didn’t. Still, ever since Ladd suggested Nebraska as a destination, it seemed more and more like a good idea. He missed Kaholo, and he missed the boys too—and he hadn’t really had a chance yet to get to know them.

“Yeah,” Sonny said, looking vaguely surprised. “I already made our travel arrangements.”

“You didn’t even know I was considering the idea! You got the plane tickets?”

“No, not plane tickets. I knew about the idea because Ladd suggested it—he told me. And it seemed like a good plan. Though I have to say, again, there’s something not quite right about him.”

“Sonny, we talked about that. You don’t have to like Ladd, that’s your business, but I’ve known him for twenty years. He had my back, and vice versa, in a lot of very dicey situations. When you work with a guy in a job like that day after day, it’s like you’re family. I’d trust him with my life. I’d trust him with your life.” He picked up the can of shave cream and squirted probably too much into his hand, balancing mostly on one leg and watching Sonny in the mirror. Sonny stared back at him, silent and relaxed, his gaze warm but telling. Sonny’s stare meant he would say more about Ladd if he thought Luki would listen. And there was a bit of irony in the mix. Luki got the message, though he wouldn’t have been able to explain how. Maybe he just knew Sonny that well now. “No, Sonny. Stop right there. There’s no comparison between the way I trust Ladd and the way I trust you, so you can’t measure one against the other. He’s my friend. You’re my life.” In usual Sonny fashion, he didn’t respond to that at all. Luki hated that, but he admired it as well. It was a rare skill, letting things go unsaid. And he used to think he had a corner on that market.

“I didn’t get plane tickets,” Sonny repeated. “I reserved an RV.”

“Excuse me?” He stopped with the mountain of shave cream lifted halfway to his face.
“An RV.”

“I heard you.” He waited, but clearly Sonny wasn’t going to say more unless he asked directly, so he voiced the most logical question. “Are you crazy?”

“Some people think so. Really, I’m just a weaver with a doctorate and a colorful history.”

“Sonny—”

“And it’ll be like a vacation.”

“C’mon—”

“It’s a really nice one.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“And on the way, we could listen to Delsyn’s blues.”

A brief excerpt from Delsyn’s Blues (farther along the twisting plot!)

January 2, 2012

(This is one of the softer, gentler, isles in the San Juans, just at nightfall.)

*

Climbing over the gunwale, Luki remarked, “Why did you call this a bucket? Looks like a perfectly good boat.”

“Look over the side, back there.” Sonny pointed.

“Melvern’s Bucket,” Luki read. “Oh.”

“So, anyway,” Sonny said. “Off we go to Mack’s Island.”

Luki had already sat down and started to do his routine weapons check. He tended not to be as heavily armed these days as he had been when they first met. But he still had his favorite handgun and two knives, and of course, a supply of ammunition and nylon handcuffs. He
was taking stock now, making sure everything was where and how it was supposed to be, a job clearly requiring that a cigarette hang out of his mouth. He puffed at the damn thing without using his hands, which meant he had to keep his eye squinted like Charles Bronson in The Mechanic and his face scrunched up on one side—the side with the scar. Sonny hated that he looked damn sexy that way.

“It’s not fair,” he said.

“What’s not fair?”

That something can look sexy and kill you at the same time. He shook his head to dismiss Luki’s question, didn’t answer at all out loud.
Besides, there were other things he needed to have his mind on now. And he hadn’t forgotten that one reason Luki seemed lightly armed was because he, Sonny, still had his other gun. Sonny didn’t bring the subject up, but he was pretty sure Luki hadn’t forgotten either.
Sonny set the boat in motion, having a fair idea of the coordinates and a fair sense of direction. Not more than fair, out on the water, just like he only had a fair ability to drive the damn boat. Melvern had insisted he learn, but… well, it just wasn’t a car. He couldn’t remember the first time he’d lain across a hood wrenching on a car engine, but as far as activities go, cars had always been what he loved best—aside from weaving and dyes and that sort of thing. And now, aside from Luki. Everything to do with Luki. Including staring at Luki, watching him smoke his lungs dry and play with guns. Disgustingly, Sonny wanted to weave him like that.

“I hate being on the water,” Luki said.

“Yeah?” It didn’t surprise Sonny; he just didn’t know why.

“I’ve had not so good things happen around water, you know?”

“Like getting beat up and cut and generally gay-bashed?”

“Mm-hm.”

“And almost drowning while getting blown up in a river.”

Luki holstered his gun and adjusted the position of the leather accessory, took the cigarette out of his mouth, and looked up at Sonny.

Not smiling. “That too.”

Sonny sighed and stepped over to his lover, letting the Bucket drive itself for a moment. He stood in front of Luki, so close he had to
part his legs to either side, which basically parked his sex in Luki’s face. He wished they had more time, but second best would have to do. He buried his hands in Luki’s curls, forcing him to look up. Then he bent low and eased into a kiss, a long, sweet, sucking and sliding one.

After a moment, he regretfully eased off, kissed Luki’s nose on the way by, and stepped back to the wheel. “Very nice,” Luki said, voice huskier than ever. “But there must be an explanation.”

“Now you’ve had something good happen to you on the water. I hope.”

Luki didn’t answer for a moment—which was okay. He absently patted the big red dog, which had been sticking close to Luki since they’d come on board and now leaned into Luki’s legs and stared with him at the gray planks that made up the deck. There was no way to know if either of them saw what they were staring at. After a moment, Luki looked up, chewing his lip, then he let it slip from between his teeth. “You love me, Sonny.”

Sonny nodded.

Luki said, “I love you back.”

An excerpt from Delsyn’s Blues: the Prologue

January 2, 2012

Sonny's Forest


*

DELSYN played the blues, played his frustration and grief away with old songs, heart songs, songs that did the crying for him and let him laugh. Mostly, anyway.

It was hard, and it didn’t get easier. The summer before, he’d nearly died; he’d been long unconscious, and his brain had almost starved for oxygen—lacking the blood that was instead filling the spaces in his joints. He’d surprised everyone but his uncle Sonny James when, despite everything, he lived. Perhaps he’d surprised even Sonny when his brain recovered, worked almost like normal. But his joints hadn’t been so forgiving, and every bend of knee or ankle, every bit of weight to bear meant pain, sometimes as hot and swift as lightning.

He’d just turned eighteen. This wasn’t the way the world was supposed to work.

Del’s world had narrowed down mostly to Sonny’s acres, a beautiful place that he’d known all his life, but even there he couldn’t go wherever he wanted. A wheelchair is useless over rough, soft ground, and crutches worse, dangerous even. He loved this place and hated it for the trap that it had become. His music—his guitar and his mercifully spared hands—helped. Sonny did what he could: drove him up the coast to Neah Bay, into Port Angeles for a movie, into Port Clifton—the nearest town—for Frappuccino at Margie’s. A couple of times, Luki Vasquez—the man his uncle loved—had carried him on his back as easily as if he’d been a child, took him down to the beach, and helped him wade through the low waves at the edge of the Juan de Fuca Strait.

But he hadn’t once been in the forest, Sonny’s forest, the woods he’d grown up in—and that mattered. One night he’d felt particularly lost and frustrated, and after saying goodnight to Sonny and Luki, he’d left the house by the back door and made halting, unsteady progress on his crutches to the line of trees that guarded the thick forest beyond. The smells, cedar and dust and new-formed frost, were memory and real all at once, and Delsyn desperately wanted to be in there with the trees and insects, just breathing the same air. So, placing the crutches carefully where they didn’t sink, following one weak leg at a time, Delsyn went in.

He only made it a few steps before he needed to rest, so he propped his crutches against a familiar stump, a gigantic memory of the old-growth forest that once lived there, still rotting into red dust a century after it had been cut. He settled himself down carefully into its folds, glad he couldn’t see the bugs that were certainly feasting off the soft pulp even at this time of night. By shifting from foot to foot, he could rest his legs, and then he’d leave. But he was glad he’d come. For once, he’d go to sleep with sweet, forest-scented dreams.

He heard a scrabbling at his feet—probably a vole or a shrew, but he wanted to know just what it was that made the sound. “Light,” he mumbled. “I need a little light.” He always had his phone with him even though it was useless for making calls around Sonny’s place, where no signal could snake past the giant barrier of the Olympic Mountains. He used it to play games. He took pictures. He recorded his own music, the blues he loved to play. He planned to add the SD card to the tapes he’d made on an old cassette deck and give them to Sonny for his birthday in May, if he could wait that long. But for now he thought the phone could help him. He slid his thumb over the screen to light it up but soon realized the glow wasn’t enough to see the ground, and he knew he couldn’t bend down close if he wanted to be able to get back up. “Bummer,” he said and was about to slip the phone back into his pocket when he heard voices.

A man’s voice, rough and hard. “You’re an idiot! A fool, and if I’d known that before I got involved in your little retirement venture, I would have stayed miles away. Those twins are devious, worse because they’re stupid, too, and everyone in the life knows that—even their own daddy. You managed to pull them in, as lame as you are; that should have told you something.”

“I’m not sure it was them—”

“What an ass! They practically advertised the location. They’re the reason we had to move the samples.”

“And you’re the one who brought ’em here. Not the brightest, in my opinion.”

Del caught the sarcasm in the words, could imagine the man’s gesture encompassing Sonny’s land: “Here.”

“I know this place,” the first man said—a voice Delsyn didn’t recognize. “No one will look here. All we need is a little time when the owner—and his latest fuck—are absent, and we can move it again. Arrange it.”

“Fuck you.”

“Don’t even, you bastard. You’re stupid, and thanks to your little minions, nobody’s going to touch this stuff until it cools off. We’ll be lucky to move the goods by spring.”

The men were moving now, Delsyn guessed; their conversation became obscured by a rustle through leaf-trash and brush. Then, suddenly, he realized the voices were getting closer, and all at once he felt very exposed, very crippled, and very scared.

One set of footsteps moved back into the forest, but the other seemed to be looking for an exit, and that one would pass right by Delsyn. If Del had been fully able, if he hadn’t needed the crutches, he could have held still. But he had no faith in his body, and panic sent him stumbling toward the edge of the trees. He wanted to be out before the man caught him.

He might be killed, he thought. He didn’t want to die hidden in the dark.

“Hey!”

Too late. Aching to move legs that wouldn’t cooperate, Del shouted “Uncle Sonny!” But he was so afraid, his voice barely stumbled past the fear in his throat. And he was too far away from the house. And Sonny and Luki didn’t even know he was out here.

The voice seemed slimy, seemed to ooze up Delsyn’s spine. “Now, Del, take it easy. You know me. You know I’m not going to hurt you.

All I need is for you to tell me what you think you heard so I can explain. You probably misunderstood. We wouldn’t want you to get yourself hurt, now would we?”

Delsyn tried to answer, hoping he’d be smart enough to talk his way out of it. But he didn’t because he couldn’t. Ever since last summer, when he got upset—good or bad—his throat and tongue locked up, like he couldn’t get the language in his brain to come out into the world. And then….

A blow—no more than a slap, but Delsyn felt the change. Felt the simple knot that had held his damaged brain together slip free. Not in the dark, he thought, and he pushed forward as he fell. With moonlight in his eyes and shining silver on the coastal fog around him, Delsyn began to die.

Later, he knew he was no longer home, knew they had taken him someplace machines could reach him with their long plastic arms. A place to wait. And while he waited, he heard things.

A doctor said, “… very probably will not wake up.”

Sonny answered, “But he woke up before.”

Sonny spoke to Delsyn, sometimes, discussing and scolding as if they were riding in the Mustang on the way to the store. The nurses came in, usually chattering, one of them sounding young and very sweet. Other patients, still able to cuss out loud. Even Luki, singing the blues for him in that scratchy voice when he thought no one else was around. Del wanted to smile. He wanted to touch someone. He wanted to sing too. Then his brain came apart a little more and he dreamed a little farther down in the darkness where it was far too quiet. He entered a tunnel that led to the other side of that line, that fence between life and death. He felt pretty good about it. He’d done the best he could to say goodbye.

And he thought that, after all, dying might have been his own idea.

“Blue Notes,” by Shira Anthony, Excerpt #2

December 30, 2011

Here’s another excerpt to whet your appetite- this time from Chapter Two of  ”Blue Notes.”

Note:  Pre-publication excerpt, may differ from final publication

****************
BACK at the apartment several hours later, Jason sat on the chaise portion of the sleek, Italian sectional (another of Rosalie’s sophisticated touches) and checked his e-mail, while Jules prepared dinner in the kitchen. Jules had insisted on cooking, and Jason—knowing that the kid saw this as a way to thank him for his generosity—had obliged. They had stopped at a small supermarket on the way back, where Jason had let Jules select the ingredients for their meal. Now, as the smell of butter and shallots wafted from the kitchen to the living room, Jason pondered whether he should ask Jules to spend the night again.

It’s already getting late, he told himself as he gazed out onto the dark street. Tomorrow, I’ll send him on his way. As soon as he made the decision, he felt better: in control again, as he preferred to be.

DINNER was delicious and quite simple: chicken breasts in a delicate cream sauce, pureed vegetables, a leafy salad with Jules’s homemade vinaigrette and, of course, the obligatory bread and cheese to follow. For his part, Jason had purchased several bottles of wine, choosing the white Pouilly-Fumé with its dry, smoky flavor to pair with the chicken. John Coltrane’s classic jazz album, Blue Train, played softly in the background. But for the fact that his companion was a man, Jason was reminded of the intimate dinners he and Diane had shared when they had first dated. They talked about less personal things this time—of how Coltrane’s style had changed after he’d quit drugs, of trends in jazz and classical music, and of the difference between French and American cuisines. Jules surprised Jason with his understanding of each subject and his wit. There was no mistaking that Jules had lived on the rough streets of the Paris suburbs, but it was just as clear that Jules had transcended his difficult surroundings.

Over coffee, Jules asked Jason about the recent negotiations in the US Congress over the budget, easily comparing the American system of governance to the French parliamentary system. They discussed the latest French political sex scandal, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and its implications for the US military, and the financial crisis in the European Union. During, and even after the dinner, Jules did not flirt with Jason, although Jason found it difficult to separate Jules’s outgoing personality with some of his more flamboyant behavior. Agreeing with little comment that Jules would spend one more night in the guest bedroom, the two men cleared the table, Jason insisting on doing the dishes over Jules’s vocal protests.

The dishes done, they returned to the living room, and Jason settled back onto the couch. Jules pulled out his neon violin case and asked, “Mind if I play a little?”

“You kidding?” Jason replied. “I’d love to hear you play.”

Jules grinned and clicked open the fiberglass case, pulling his bow out first, tightening and rosining the hairs, then picking up the violin and planting it beneath his chin. He closed his eyes to tune the instrument and opened them again to ask, “What should I play for you?”

Jason had not been expecting the question. “I don’t know,” he shrugged. “I guess something that you love to play.”

“D’accord,” replied Jules, his mismatched eyes glittering in anticipation. “Bach. Sonata no. 2 in A Minor.”

The choice surprised Jason, but he said nothing, instead propping a pillow behind his head and leaning further back against the sofa. Jules took a deep breath and closed his eyes once more, gently laying bow to string and beginning the opening phrases with their insistent, rhythmic repetition sounding below the melodic line. The simplicity of the piece was both stunning and heart wrenching. Each phrase built upon the next, rising in intensity and in pitch. It reminded Jason of a prayer, powerful in its stark beauty, and he heard Jules’s soul poured out into every note. And then it was over, and Jason was left sitting in silence, staring at Jules as he had in the club, transfixed.

“Well? What did you think?” asked Jules.

The words woke Jason from his reverie. “That was… beautiful, Jules.” There were tears in his eyes, and yet he could not put into words why the music had so stirred his heart. In that moment, he saw the boy in a different light—no, “boy” definitely was not the right word—the look in Jules’s eyes was anything but childlike.

What are you thinking, Greene? he asked himself. You’re letting this get away from you.

Jules rested the violin and bow on the case and sat down next to Jason. He hesitated for a moment, watching the older man with uncomfortable intensity, then reached for Jason and brushed a single tear from his cheek. For Jason, the touch was electric, and his physical response unexpected.

“Bach always touches my soul,” Jules half whispered. His fingers still rested against Jason’s cheek. “He must have known great love, and great pain, to write something so powerful.”

Jason realized that his own pain must be showing on his face, because Jules, too, looked sad.

“I’ve never been religious,” Jules said, his eyes never leaving Jason’s, “but I played this piece in a tiny church once. It was like God was there with me, speaking through me.”

When Jason remained silent, Jules leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the lips. At a loss to explain the intense emotional and sexual response of his own body and equally unable to stop himself, Jason reached for Jules and returned the kiss. The younger man’s lips tasted of wine and musk, and Jason realized that he was hungry for more.

What are you doing? With this thought, he pulled abruptly away from Jules, stared at him for a moment, then frowned and stood up. His heart pounded in his chest and he felt dizzy. You’re straight, remember?

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, his throat dry. “I shouldn’t have… I’m tired. I’m going to sleep.”

“Of course,” Jules said, appearing to be just as stunned by their brief embrace as Jason was.

IT TOOK Jason nearly an hour to fall asleep, and even then, his sleep was restless. He could not fathom his reaction to Jules’s music, at first telling himself (as he had before) that his response could be blamed on alcohol and jet lag. And yet he knew that he was only denying the truth: he was attracted to the younger man. In that moment, he had wanted Jules. He had wanted to feel Jules’s body against his own. He had wanted all of him.

It’s not as if you’ve never considered what it might be like with a man.

The vague memory of Robbie Jansen’s blue eyes, the feel of the other boy’s chest under his fingers, a high school party and the drunken hand job afterward in a friend’s basement came to mind. It had felt damn good, but then it hadn’t happened again, either. It had just been easier to be with women—they had always been plentiful and eager. Still, he couldn’t help but recall the feel of his lips on Jules’s and the scent of his skin.

Damn, he smelled good.

At last his mind slipped into sleep, succumbing to his body’s deep exhaustion.

Back! With an excerpt…

August 15, 2011

I’ve made it back with a brief excerpt from John and Bryan’s story. You can actually read the complete first chapter on the purchase pages through the Dreamspinner site, but this is a bit further in. :)

John slept like a log that night and woke up early Saturday morning feeling better rested and more refreshed than he had all week long. Typical, he thought. The one day of the week I could sleep in, and I’m awake at dawn.

Being up so early gave him a chance to do one of his favorite things: go down to the beach and watch the sunrise. Beth wouldn’t be awake for at least another hour, especially since she was still recovering from whatever little bug she’d had the day before. Meghan would be up around eight to head into the restaurant, earlier than during the off-season.

Moving quietly so as not to wake them, John slipped into swim trunks and a T-shirt and pulled on socks and sneakers. Sliding his keys, wallet, and cell phone into his pockets, he headed toward the water under the lightening skies. The clouds from the day before had disappeared, and it promised to be a gorgeous day. Probably hot too, but they’d be in the air-conditioned comfort of the Marine Science Center part of the time. John planned to invite Bryan and Jeremy for a walk out on the pier and maybe along the beach once the kids got tired of the animals. The center was small, but Beth loved the touch tank, where crabs, small rays, and other marine life were available for kids to pet.

Crossing the last street at the edge of the island, John climbed the wooden steps leading across the dunes and onto the beach below. As the water came into sight, he could see two figures standing ankle-deep in the surf, boards under their arms, talking about something. After a few seconds, they both waded out farther, dropping the boards and climbing onto them, stroking out toward the breakers.

John smiled as he settled on the bottom step to watch. Surfing wasn’t common at Tybee, since the waves weren’t anything to write home about, but John knew Kai liked to go out sometimes. He couldn’t tell who the two men were for sure—at least, from here they both seemed to be men—but one of them was about Kai’s height and seemed to have his broad, muscular build. John had no idea who the other man might be but watched as he turned to catch a low wave, rising to his feet, gliding across the water. It wasn’t a long ride or a fancy one, but it was smooth and steady, and he dropped back down to the board with an easy grace as it moved into shallower water. He slipped off the side and stood up, turning back to yell something to Kai before gathering up his board and walking up the beach.

Between the increasing light and the man’s proximity, John could recognize then that it was Bryan. As he watched, transfixed, Bryan shook his head, throwing off droplets of water in all directions, then wiped his face with one hand. He bent to grab a sports bottle that sat in the sand next to a pair of shoes, and John’s mouth went dry as the move stretched Bryan’s swimsuit tight over his ass. Bryan came back up and tilted his head back to pour water into his mouth, and John couldn’t look away.

“Holy hell, he is hot,” John murmured.

Almost as if he’d heard him, even though John knew he was too far away, Bryan froze in place and then turned, catching sight of John where he sat staring. Bryan grinned and waved his free hand, bending to set his water bottle back down and then walking in John’s direction. John fought for composure, but watching Bryan’s muscles flex as he moved, bare chest still glistening with sea water, wasn’t doing much to help him get himself under control.

THE ATTORNEY by Carolyn LeVine Topol – excerpt (Adult)

August 3, 2011

Here’s a little treat for you to enjoy as we close for the night, but I’ll be back over the next 24 hours to check on comments.  Happy Reading!  Enjoy the second book in The Male Room trilogy.

Chapter 3

SAM closed the door as soon as they entered his apartment, flipped the deadbolt, and pressed Chris against the door, crashing their lips together. Chris tasted like the perfect blend of green tea, Thai spices, and something more. It didn’t matter what it was. Sam wanted it; he was hungry for him.

Pressing back, Chris explored Sam’s mouth, wrapping his arms around Sam as he pushed his tongue inside. Sam felt a sound escape from his throat, his reaction more intense than he’d expected.

It didn’t matter that Chris was broader and taller; Sam took back control, tugging his date’s shirt out from where it had been neatly tucked into his pants. He immediately started to deftly unbutton the garment, exposing the beautiful, fair skinned six-pack underneath.

Taking a step back, Sam gazed at Chris’ heaving chest, leaning in to lick and suck each nipple, moving from one to the other, over and over, sometimes moving away from one nipple, only to return to it immediately, keeping his date guessing as to which nub he would attack next. Chris moaned, threading his fingers through Sam’s hair as the onslaught continued.

“Look at them—erect, hot, wet, waiting for me.” Sam continued to suck harder on each nub, then nipped at them both.

“Ahhh!”

“You like that, don’t you? You’re waiting for more?” Sam loved Chris’s responsive movements and wanted to experience more.

“Want to touch you,” Chris breathed out.

Anxious to oblige, Sam quickly unfastened the buttons of his own shirt, pulling it off and flinging it off to the side. Chris’ big, smooth hands instantly gripped Sam’s back and then moved to his chest, massaging in circles over every muscle, purposely avoiding his own erect nubs.

“You’re beautiful.” Eyes darkened, Chris stared at Sam as he continued rubbing his hands over his entire upper body. It wasn’t long before he began to search lower. Chris unbuckled Sam’s belt and then his own.

“You want more and I want to give it to you.” This was the moment Sam would find out if he had been right. Would they clash for control and implode before they got any further? Although he knew it bordered on cliché, Sam still wasn’t convinced two tops could handle the compromises that would need to be made.

“Bedroom.” Sam froze, a grin on his face when he heard Chris. “Can we move to your bedroom?” Chris didn’t wait for an answer, kissing Sam once again, wrapping his arms around him. The touch of the now warm hands sent a shiver up Sam’s spine.

Taking Chris by the arm, Sam hastily moved them to his bedroom. He tossed the comforter to the side, revealing the dark, burgundy-colored sheets below.

As Chris began to remove his belt, Sam stilled his hands. “Let me.” He whipped the belt out of the loops and unfastened the pants. No need for those any more. Before lowering them to the floor, Sam pressed his hand against Chris’s hard member still trapped beneath the fabric.

“Oh God.” Chris’s head fell back, his eyes slowly closing.

Inching the pants and briefs down together, Sam got his first look at the prize underneath. “You’re so damn big.” Chris’s cock was incredible; long, thick, and hard, waiting for Sam, responding to Sam’s every touch and word.

While Chris toed off his shoes and socks, then stepped out of his pants, Sam quickly stripped off the rest of his own clothing. “You’re not so bad yourself.” Chris grinned.

Sam knew men loved to suck his cock and practically lined up to get fucked by him, but for some reason he wanted Chris more than any other he’d ever made a play for before.

Jeff had sucked him off in the backroom of the Music Box once. He’d been great, but it was a onetime event. Jeff belonged to Craig, with Craig, and he was off the market now.

“I want to take you.” Sam pressed his lips to Chris’, slowly guiding him to the edge of the bed, hoping with each step forward he wouldn’t meet a wall.

“I know.” Chris pulled back briefly and then pressed their lips together again. The hunger and urgency between them grew until Sam wanted more and more of everything about Chris. He needed to have him sprawled on his bed so he could kiss every inch of that amazing body and then fuck him until he begged for release.

Chris lay on his back rolling his lips inward, clearly out of his comfort zone. Sam hovered over him. It was just how Sam wanted it. He was in charge. This was his show and he would make it a performance neither of them would forget.

Starting at Chris’s lobe, Sam nipped, licked, and kissed his way down the long neck, sucking just enough not to leave a mark. He then moved on to touch, and lavish attention on, the hot, muscular chest, and finally the tight abdomen. The man beneath him began to writhe, gripping the sheets in his clenched fists.

“You are so damn hot.” Kissing, licking, teasing the huge reddened cock, Sam listened to the moans urging him on. Each sound from Chris went right to Sam’s dick. He was harder than he’d been in ages without touching himself. When Chris began to buck under Sam’s ministrations, he stopped, grabbing the lube and a condom from the night table drawer.

“Sam.”

Blinking, as he squirted a large dollop of the gel onto his fingers, Sam looked up. Chris’ eyes were wide. He had that deer in the headlights look. “Are you okay?”

Closing his eyes, Chris turned his head to one side, obviously having second thoughts. Sam worried this would be over before it started.

“Chris?”

“I just, I don’t usually—” Biting his lip, Chris couldn’t seem to finish the sentence.

“I figured. I’ll take it easy.” Sam pressed his lips gently to the matted hair streaked across his forehead. “I’ll take care of you.” Sam wasn’t sure why he offered so much, but it felt right.

Warming the lube in his fingers, Sam positioned himself between Chris’ legs, encouraging him to spread them even more. When he responded, Sam’s breath hitched at the sight of this amazing, hulking man lying wanton and needy, waiting for him. “I’ll give you a night you’ll always remember.” He pressed one finger slowly into the waiting hole.

Chris arched his back slightly in response, breathing heavier as Sam pushed another finger in to join the first.

Opening up the tight channel wasn’t easy. Chris had obviously not been doing much bottoming, if any at all.

“More. Another. Please.”

Smiling as he witnessed the building desire, Sam gladly added a third finger, spreading Chris from the inside, opening him up so he’d be ready for the hot, long cock he was about to take. Moving his fingers within, he found the spot he was looking for and nudged it.

“Oh shit!”

“You like that? You want more?”

Chris nodded, licking his lips. Sam captured the seductive tongue between his lips and sucked on it as he dove in for another heated kiss. Chris’s legs fell further to the side as their contact became more urgent, and he began to buck against Sam’s fingers.

Pulling out carefully, so as not to hurt Chris with too sudden a move, Sam looked at the man below. “Are you okay?”

Smiling, Chris laced his fingers in Sam’s hair and pulled him in for another kiss.

That was all the encouragement Sam needed. He couldn’t hold back any longer. Adding to the thrill for Sam was the experience of watching the tight muscles of Chris’ sculpted body heaving as he panted, waiting for Sam to penetrate him. After putting the condom on with one smooth stroke and coating it with the lube remaining on his fingers, Sam slowly pushed his cock inside. “You’re so damn tight.”

A nod was the only response as Chris once again clutched the sheet in his fists.

Continuing to carefully move deeper, Sam pushed into the tight tunnel until he was completely inside. Looking down, he stilled, allowing Chris to signal when he could move again. When he felt the strong legs wrap around his back, Sam knew it was time.

Starting with a slow, steady pace, he thrust in and out, enjoying the warmth. Sam couldn’t tear his eyes away from the man beneath him. He was so open, so trusting. As Chris began to join the rhythmic movements, Sam felt something foreign in his gut. Ignoring it, he continued, changing the angle to make sure to graze Chris’ prostate on every stroke.

“Oh God, Sam!”

Leaning down, Sam crashed their lips together, swallowing Chris’ words and moans, wanting to take all of him at once.

“Ahhh. I’m gonna come. Please.”

When Chris made a move to touch his dick, Sam swatted his hand away. “You’ll come without even touching yourself.”

“Fuck!” Chris bucked beneath him, his reddened member bobbing freely, as Sam’s movements became faster and harder.

Resting his cock against Chris’ prostate, he delivered short thrusts over the delicate spot.

His head thrashing from side to side, Chris grabbed Sam’s shoulders, digging his nails in as he arched his back one last time. “Sam!” Creamy white spurts of liquid shot between them, hitting the full length of Chris’ chest up to his chin.

Feeling the intense pressure around his cock, Sam followed him, filling the condom.

After catching his breath, Sam gently pulled out, removed the condom, tied it off, and tossed it onto the floor.

Before he could say or do anything, Chris wrapped his arms around him, holding him close. This wasn’t what Sam normally did after fucking a trick—it would typically be too intimate—but Sam didn’t mind. Although he might regret his actions later, Sam followed suit, embracing Chris. The two lay, their legs tangled, sticky come drying on their chests.

Although he thought about getting up to wash off, Sam instead reached out with one hand to pull the comforter over them. It was Friday night and there was no need to think about alarm clocks or deadlines for the next day.

Holding one another beneath the blanket now cocooning them, Chris kissed Sam’s neck. “I’m not sure why I let you.”

“Shhh, just go to sleep.”

“No, Sam,” he whispered. “I need to tell you. You’re the first.”

Sam’s eyes shot open for a moment, and then a smile spread across his face. He nibbled at Chris’ lobe and then kissed his neck, cheek, and lips tenderly. “I’m glad it was me. And I’m not sure how, but somehow I knew.”

“Good.”

The two remained entwined as they fell into a sated sleep.

SAM didn’t feel or hear anything until he awoke to the light streaming into the bedroom. He rolled over, frowning when he discovered he was alone. His reaction set off an internal alarm, which he chose to set aside for the moment.

Then he spotted a small note on the nightstand.

Thank you for last night. You’re right, I’ll always remember it. It’s your move now, since your friend fixed us up. Here’s my phone number. I hope you use it. Chris

Damn! Now Sam had to really think about how he felt. He had been in his element the night before. In the light of day, out of bed, could he make a relationship work?

THE ATTORNEY by Carolyn LeVine Topol – Excerpt

August 3, 2011

Welcome to our second post of the day of celebrating the bumpy road to love in The Attorney.   Today I’m going to make it easy to win a copy of this new novella… everyone who comments will get entered into a drawing to win!  Here’s the “catch” — I will enter your name for each Virtual Party post you comment on.  You can only be entered once per post.  So join the fun, grab a virtual cocktail (or a real one) and sit down and enjoy the beginning of The Attorney, and getting our party underway.

Chapter 1

WALKING into his large corner office, Sam took a seat at his oversized desk. He had several active cases he was working on, but instead of diving into them as he typically did each morning, his curiosity won out. Sam pulled his laptop out of its carrying case and set it front and center on the smooth glass surface.

After logging on, he immediately searched out his newest bookmarked site, The Male Room. He snorted, still not believing he’d actually done it—Sam Solomon had filled in a profile at an online dating service. Five years ago, the only way he would have ever done anything like this would have been in response to a dare when he was too drunk to think clearly. Now that he was living alone and wishing for more than just a good fuck at the end of the day, Sam had decided instead to try the newest trend in dating.

He remembered the day his friends, Craig and Jeff, had sat in his office signing the documents necessary to start their online business. His two friends had really done their research, and the commitment they’d made to take the risk with a new business was certainly paying off. It had been less than two months since The Male Room had opened its virtual doors, and they already had one of the three most lucrative gay online dating sites on the east coast of the United States.

Having received a free profile for all the legal work he’d helped them with during their start-up period, Sam had given it a try. He wasn’t sure what he was hoping for, but knew that going to the Music Box three to five nights a week to get his dick sucked or find a good ass to fuck was becoming less and less appealing. He envied his friends, remembering how, as they’d started their new business, they had also discovered the love that had been looming just beneath the surface for years.

Now Sam wanted a shot at something longer-lasting, but he was picky. He’d already accepted several dates from his online prospective pairings, but none actually had gone beyond a couple of brief encounters. One or two first dates had become second dates, but after a hot fuck and a good dinner, he didn’t have much desire to develop any of the matches into relationships.

When he looked at the home page for The Male Room, he noticed there were ten couples, captured in smiling pictures, listed as success stories. That was what Sam wanted. He wanted to be a success story, and not just in his professional or sexual world, but in his personal life. Hell, he wanted to have a personal life.

Exploring his profile’s “Connection” location, he noticed three new hits. All the men were good looking, but he’d learned through many years of gathering evidence for court cases, digitally enhanced pictures could go a long way to improving appearance. Now his search for the ideal date supported the same theory. Many of the pictures posted on the profiles were far less than honest representations.

Ignoring the photos, giving them no more than a passing glance, Sam looked at each new prospective match’s profile.

Two intrigued him immediately; the third seemed too much like him to be worth a second look. Sam didn’t think he could handle a coffee, let alone a dinner, with someone who was as much a control freak as himself. The thought crossed his mind that maybe he’d be better to stick to the old adage about opposites attracting each other.

Before he could think about it any further, the intercom on his phone buzzed. “Mr. Solomon, Jeff is on line two for you. Would you like to take his call or should I send it to your voice mail?”

“I’ll take the call, Donna. Please put it through.”

“Hello, Jeff. How are you and Craig enjoying your success?”

“At the bank or in the bedroom?”

“Touché! You two really have got it all.”

“It only took him ten years to figure out something I already knew when we were in high school.”

Sam chuckled. Although Jeff had started out as a trick who could have won a contest for best cock-sucker in Boston as far as Sam was concerned, he had since become a good friend and confidant, something Sam didn’t have many of. Lots of hot men wanted to be his trick, but very few took it further than that.

“Are you still there?”

“Oh, sorry. My mind wandered.”

“Well, honey, has it wandered over to your profile this glorious morning? There are some new prospects I think you should most definitely explore.”

“Are you a mind reader? I was just looking at them. I have to admit, I’m beginning to lose hope. I may be your first truly unsuccessful client.”

“Nonsense! You just don’t know how to pick ’em.” Jeff paused and Sam could hear some beeping and chiming noises in the background. “There. I just opened your profile.”

“Isn’t it cheating to have one of the owners of The Male Room act as my personal consultant?”

Jeff snickered. “It’s not normally offered as part of the service, but I’m more than willing to make an exception for you, especially since you clearly can’t tell a good match from a mediocre one.”

“So none of the matches are just bad, are they?” Sam smirked, looking forward to hearing Jeff’s comeback.

“There is a good match for everyone; sometimes at The Male Room you just have to sift through the less-than-perfect to find the diamonds in the rough.”

“I think you’re twisting your metaphors.”

“Maybe so, but I see the perfect match for you.”

“Which one? There’re three new additions who’ve shown interest on my profile page.”

“I tell you what, Sam. Let me act for you and set up a meeting tonight at the Thai place near the Boston Aquarium. Do you know the restaurant I’m talking about?”

“Yes. I’ve eaten there a number of times. They’ll probably recognize me when I arrive.”

“You’ve eaten there or done take-out?”

“I’m not answering your question on the grounds it might incriminate me.”

“You lawyers are all the same.” Sam heard Jeff clicking away at his computer. “Okay, you’re all set for tonight. I’ll contact the restaurant; you just be there at eight.”

“So, who am I meeting?”

“You’ll know him when you see him. It’s the man who was meant for you.”

“I’ll go along with this one time, but if you’re wrong, I think it may be time for me to take a break. Maybe I’m just not cut out to find someone. Not all of us can be as lucky as you and Craig… and all the men on the home page.”

“There’s a soul mate for you. I’m sure of it. And I think I’ve found him.”

“We’ll see.”

“How about a friendly wager?”

“What?”

“A bet. Let’s bet on it.”

“You want to bet on whether you’ve found the right man for me?”

“Exactly. I have that much faith in myself.”

“I could just throw the date to win the bet.”

“You won’t want to if you give it half a chance. I trust my instincts, and I think it’s finally your time.”

Hating to admit it, Sam hoped Jeff was right. He was nearly thirty-five and alone. Friends were great, fucks were temporarily satisfying, but Sam wanted to come home each night and know someone cared whether he’d be there or not. “Okay. It’s a bet. What do you want if you win?”

“That’s easy. I want to put you and your partner’s picture on the home page and get a few quotes for the caption. A respected lawyer in Boston is fabulous free advertising.”

“Sounds fair to me. And what if I win?”

“Don’t you get it, sweetie? You and I will both win if I win the bet. Focus on that… for me, better yet, for you.”

Biting his lip, Sam was glad no one could see him. Jeff was right. He really wanted his friend to win the bet, even if it meant an embarrassingly sweet picture of him would be plastered on the site’s home page. “Thanks, Jeff. I do hope you win.”

“Talk to you later, honey. Remember, eight o’clock at the—”

“Thai restaurant. I’ll be there, just make sure my date is too. I’m not in the mood for take-out this time.” Hanging up the phone, Sam refocused on his profile.

Studying the three faces, Sam searched each of the viewing profiles of the two likely candidates. He re-examined them as if he was preparing for a case. Each man had good qualities, and it seemed like he could spend a comfortable evening with either one of them.

Scrutinizing the two profiles, Sam hoped Jeff had picked the bartender. If anything, he should have some great stories to tell of people he’d witnessed while working. Besides, bartenders were supposed to be great conversationalists.

Enough! He was wasting too much time on this. It was in Jeff’s hands now. While Sam wasn’t counting on much, he was hoping his friend had better luck selecting the perfect match than he had. Clearly Sam only knew how to find the hottest fucks. It was too bad he wanted more.

Blinking himself back to reality, Sam pressed the intercom button on his phone. “Donna, bring me the files I requested you pull yesterday. I have to be prepared for court on Monday morning.”

“I’ll be right there, Mr. Solomon. Do you mean the files about the school purchasing computers for disabled kids?”

“That’s the one. And good news for both of us, the district is actually paying for my services. This one isn’t even pro bono.”

Donna laughed. “We both know you’d help them just as diligently even if it was.”

“Just bring me the files. I have a job to do, and so do you, if you want to get paid next week.”

“Be right there.”

Lifting his finger from the intercom, Sam prepared himself to re-examine every detail of information regarding the case of a local special education school fighting against a large computer distributor that had sent them systems that didn’t meet their specified needs, or the needs of their students.

He would be the first person to admit he enjoyed having enough money to spend as he chose, but one thing Sam couldn’t stand was robbing from those in need. He also couldn’t stand losing a case. Sam had no intention of losing this one; the case was too important and was beginning to receive more attention than he would have desired in the news.

Rarer Than Rubies, Excerpt 2 (PG)

July 29, 2011

Here’s another little taste to tempt you to check out Rarer Than Rubies! Hope you enjoy it!

****


“Are you following me around?” Trent put his backpack on again, this time putting both arms through the straps. Obviously he wasn’t taking any more chances. Reed knew he wouldn’t get another chance to get into the pack, but where could the map be? Had Trent found it in his pack and knowing it wasn’t his, already thrown it away? Or was he working for a competitor and had already passed it off. Reed hadn’t let him out of his sight for very long, but there might have been someone waiting in his room at the Pink Tiger.

But this guy appeared too clueless to be part of any underworld organization. No one was that good an actor. The only explanation was Trent somehow realized the map was valuable and hidden it hoping to sell it to someone who would pay big money for the information.

“No, man. Bangkok’s really kind of a small place for farangs, you know? I run into the same people all the time. I’m Reed Acton, by the way.” He started to put a hand out but Trent didn’t look to be in a trusting, hand-shaking mood yet. He also didn’t volunteer an introduction.

Farangs?” Trent rolled the word around on his tongue and squinted in puzzlement.

“Foreigners…Westerners. It’s kind of an insult, but if you spend enough time here you get used to it.”

“But you speak Thai. You said you live here?”

“Yeah, for work.” Fuck. This conversation was getting into dangerous territory for Reed. But he didn’t want to just walk off on his own and suddenly it had nothing to do with the map. He wanted to get closer to Trent Dallas and breathe in the beautiful scent of him—probably courtesy of that fancy body wash Reed had watched him apply earlier—and lick along the curve of his jaw, and then maybe rip off that shirt Trent was wearing and trace around every muscle on his chest and abs. Reed had seen what was under there and this time he wanted more than to look. He wanted to touch, and taste and…

“Well, thanks for getting my bag back. Do you want a reward or something?” Trent’s voice jolted Reed back to reality and with difficulty he pulled his mind out of Trent’s pants. Which was too bad, because he was just starting to plan out what he wanted to do with that ass.

“No, no.” Reed shook his head. “I don’t want money. If that’s what you’re thinking, that I’m trying to scam you or something, you’re dead wrong.”

“Well…” Trent looked at Reed out of the corner of his eye and Reed knew he wasn’t convinced Reed was harmless.

“Look, let’s sit down for a few minutes and grab something to drink. The heat is getting to me.” Reed wiped the back of his hand across his sweaty brow and smiled up at Trent, getting another suspicious look in return. But Trent looked hot and sweaty, too—though it just made him look even sexier—and let Reed lead him to table set up under a canvas canopy near half a dozen street vendors.

Reed ordered cool coconut drinks for them. Trent eyed the drink warily at first, but when he saw Reed slurp down half the glass in one long pull he cautiously sipped and smiled in delighted surprise. The coconut drinks were one of Reed’s favorites, though some vendors made them too sweet. He loved the soft fresh coconut flesh that floated in the glass and he’d usually save a few pieces to suck on and savor the taste after he’d drained the liquid contents. From the look on Trent’s face he seemed to be relaxing and Reed decided to take a time out here and put him at ease.

“I admit I saw you in the airport and thought it might be fun to hang out. I know a lot of places to go in the city, if this is your first time here …” Reed smiled hoping Trent would trust him, no matter how suspicious Reed’s behavior might have been up till now. He wished he could forget about the map and enjoy a few fun-filled days with Trent Dallas—preferably in a bed in Reed’s air-conditioned apartment where they ordered in food and didn’t get dressed the entire time.

“How do I know I can trust you? I mean, what were you doing in the airport anyway?” Trent repeatedly poked his straw at the pieces of coconut at the bottom of his glass.

“I had to pick up a package for my boss.” Thankfully Reed could tell the truth. “It got misdirected so I have to get it from a different location later today.” He paused for a moment. “You can eat that. It’scoconut flesh.” Reed took a bite from a piece he pulled from his own glass, to demonstrate it was safe.

“Really? I’ve never seen it so soft.”

“It’s from young coconuts. I guess they don’t leave them on the trees long enough to get really hard. They’re much easier to open when they’re young, too.”

Trent fished a piece out and took a tiny bite. He quickly ate the rest of it. “Mmm.”

“See? You can trust me.” Reed laughed. He enjoyed watching Trent consume the rest of the coconut pieces, picking each up and licking it to catch the last drops of the drink before sucking it into his mouth with a tiny slurp.

“Eating coconut and going somewhere with you are two entirely different things.” Trent tilted his head slightly then licked his lips and Reed had to keep from jumping across the table and kissing him. Did Trent know how he was torturing Reed as he imagined what else those lips and tongue could be doing. The smile on Trent’s face led Reed to believe that maybe he did. Damn tease! But Reed was enjoying the game. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d felt a spark like this for anyone.

“Fair enough.”

They chatted casually for another ten minutes, where Reed kept the conversation mainly about Thai food–deftly avoiding personal topics–until Trent seemed to have relaxed and become less suspicious. Reed noticed Trent’s appraising glances and grinned, hoping his dimples might be extra convincing. God, he hated doing it this way but he was on a short timetable and he didn’t have the luxury of being smooth about it.

“Have you decided you can lower the threat level on me to blue or green?”

Trent laughed and Reed’s spirits picked up. He liked the sound of Trent’s laugh.

“Well, I might go as low yellow, with an option for blue.”

****

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