Another Excerpt—Meet Luki and Sonny

June 20, 2011

Straits of Juan de Fuca (Where Sonny Lives)

Washington State, 2010

BRIGHT clothes, sunburns. Summer had arrived, and Port Clifton was awash in tourists. Since Juan de Fuca Boulevard constituted most of the town, they had nowhere else to go. They chattered and milled about, and Sonny Bly James wasn’t in the mood for chatter or milling because he was worried about his nephew, Delsyn, who always stayed gone for days, but who should have come home by now. Sonny quickened his long-legged strides and slid through the crush, trying to disturb the air as little as possible on the way to his truck.

Then he saw a man.

Which in itself wasn’t unusual, but this man, an islander, maybe Hawaiian, by the look of him, lounged cool and beautiful in loose summer whites, half-sitting on the fender of an ice-blue Mercedes, a strip of sand beach and the blue straits for a backdrop. Dark chestnut curls shining; straight, white teeth softly teasing a lush, plum-red bottom lip. His eyes, startling pale blue against brown skin, roved all over Sonny; the islander made no effort to pretend otherwise, and besides, Sonny could feel them. Their touch trickled over him like ice water, exciting every nerve he had, even those he’d never heard from before.

Which scared Sonny, a recluse by choice—and, he knew, because he’d always managed to be socially… well, clumsy. So, he turned to the weapon that had been his first line of defense since adolescence, when all the reservation had noticed that their star young grass dancer didn’t mind being gay: a smart mouth.

“What are you looking at?”

Even though the islander had responded by looking away, Sonny knew he hadn’t—couldn’t have—intimidated him. The stranger might have been a few inches shorter than him, but judging by his physique, and despite his laid-back manner, Sonny guessed the man could have dropped him with a cold look and a slap. It would have been less of a blow if he had. Instead, he freed his lower lip from his teeth and spoke.

“I beg your pardon.”

Sonny wanted to let a whole raft of words spill out, starting with “I didn’t mean it,” and ending with “so kiss me, now.” But the man’s attention had turned away. A baby in a stroller dropped a floppy brown bear at his feet. The young mother looked frazzled, at her wit’s end, carrying another child and trying to keep a third from making a dash down the boulevard. The islander squatted down—a graceful move—and picked up the bear. Right before Sonny’s eyes, his icy exterior melted, and though he didn’t smile and couldn’t pass for cheerful, he somehow seemed kind. He handed the stuffed creature back to the baby, who seemed to like him. She expressed her gratitude by spouting a number of syllables that all sounded a lot like “da.”

Sonny, angry with himself for blowing his chance to meet this chill but beautiful stranger—who might be trying to hide a kind heart—pretended he hadn’t seen. He turned his faux-stoic shoulder and walked away. A little shaky, perhaps; already sorry. Three strides and he heard a voice, unexpectedly scratchy, even hoarse.

“Hey.”

Sonny turned.

The man took a deep, lovely breath, flashed his cold-fire eyes at Sonny, and said, “I have coffee most mornings at Margie’s. In case you’re interested.”

MARGIE’S it was, then, the very next day. Sonny had weighed the wisdom of that, thinking it might be better if he didn’t seem so anxious. But hell, he thought, I am anxious. Nothing about me is un-anxious.

He took the truck—which his Uncle Melvern had left him when he died a year ago and which functioned as a good luck charm. After he pulled over to the curb a half-block from Margie’s, he forced the clutch to cooperate, wrestled the column shift into first, and shut the engine down. Sort of. It kicked and spluttered, backfired, and groaned to death. He really, really hoped that the man he had come to meet had not heard that. He wanted to make a good impression. He crashed his shoulder into the door to get out, slammed the door twice to shut it, then paused to look in the side-view mirror. Some other person spoke out of his mouth—or at least that’s how it felt. “Sonny,” it said, “here’s your chance. Don’t blow it.”

Great. A confidence builder.

The wooden sign attached over the arched brick entry said “Margie’s Cup O’ Gold,” but nobody ever called the cafe anything but just plain Margie’s. The elegant door—leaded glass set in oak panels—had been pushed open and held there with a shoe. All that stood between Sonny and whatever fate awaited him inside was a wooden screen door, the old-fashioned kind; it might have been there since the block was built in the 1890’s. He crossed the threshold wearing a smile for Margie, then reached back just in time to stop the screen from slamming behind him. “Hey, Marge,” he said, maybe not quite as loud as usual. He glanced around lazily, as if he weren’t looking for the man he’d come to think of as “the islander.” He didn’t see him. He let out a long breath that he must have been holding, wondering if he felt disappointed or relieved. He walked, casually he hoped, across the expanse of black and white parquet floor.

“Well,” Margie said, hand on hip and scolding in ringing tones. “Hello, Sonny. You’re here awfully early.”

“Margie, usually people don’t give other people a hard time for being early.”

“Shush, Sonny Bly. So what do you want? Never mind, I already know. You and your fancy coffees. What’s wrong with a good old-fashioned cuppa, eh? Now that young man that came in a little earlier—real nice looking fella; I think you’d like him—now he just ordered coffee, black and sweet. There’s a man that knows what he likes, I say.”

She’d nearly finished making the latte by the time she stopped. That was one thing about a conversation with Margie. Sonny never worried about what to say, because he was pretty sure he’d never get a chance to say it. But this time she had him a little dumbfounded. She’d said, “that nice fella” with a sly glance out of the corner of her eye. Sonny figured she was on to him, but he couldn’t decide whether that was good or bad.

She cleared up those muddy waters as soon as she handed over his latte. “He’s around the corner, dear. The last table. Don’t worry, you look fine.”

Which left Sonny absolutely certain he should have worried more about how he looked.

There he was, the islander. Same skin, same lips, eyes, even hair. Of course. But the rest of him was dressed in a posh business suit, a light gray, summer fabric so finely tailored that he might have been born in it. “So why the getup?” Sonny asked.

“Ah,” the stranger remarked. “A way with words.”

He didn’t have to say that. Sonny was already giving his forehead a mental smack. He stared at his coffee for what seemed like, maybe, a hundred and twenty-four years. He’d all but decided to bid an embarrassed farewell and beat a retreat, when the islander spoke.

“I have to go to work in a while,” he said. When Sonny looked up he added, “That’s why the getup.” No smile went with the words, but his eyes danced, like they were laughing—or maybe teasing. He reached halfway across the tile-topped table, holding out his long-fingered, manicured hand.

Sonny stared at it.

The islander said, “I thought maybe introductions would be a good place to start. I’m Luki. Luki Vasquez.”

Embarrassed again, Sonny blushed, which—he knew from experience—made his off-brown skin look purple. But in an act of sheer bravery, he put his own dye-stained and calloused hand out and took hold of Luki’s. Somehow, what felt like gibberish came out sounding like his name. “Sonny James.”

Luki leaned back when the handshake was done, draped his left arm casually over the back of the chair… revealing a bit of leather strap that might be part of a shoulder holster and something sort of gun-shaped half-hidden under his jacket.

“Is that what I think it is?”

Luki pulled his jacket back and showed him what was under there. Or some of what was under there, and not necessarily what Sonny wanted to see.

“Is that what you thought it was?”

“I’m afraid so. Police?”

Luki shook his head. “Used to be, sort of—ATF. Not anymore.”

“ATF?”

“Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms.”

Sonny said, “Oh.” Thinking he’d probably heard of such an organization, sometime. “What now?”

“Security.”

Security? Sonny’s mind raced. Luki couldn’t possibly have meant he was one of those people that walk around the factory at night. That wouldn’t make enough money for a man to feed himself, never mind buy a suit handmade by the angels of heaven. What kind of security work might be so lucrative? He imagined Luki running alongside royalty as they headed for the limo, staving off the paparazzi.”What, like bodyguard?”

Luki’s voice, low and raspy but sweet, tightened a bit. Apparently he hadn’t expected to be quizzed about how he paid the bills. “Yes, from time to time. And property—gems and what not. Investigations, sometimes. What about you? What do you do?” The look he shot Sonny was almost a glare.

The most honest response would have been, “Please, don’t look at me like that,” but belligerence is a tough habit to break. “I play with yarn.”

“Yarn?”

“And string.”

“String.”
“Yep,” Sonny said aloud. Silently, he told himself he’d probably gone too far. He wasn’t sorry that Luki’s cell phone, attached to his belt in a stylishly businesslike manner, buzzed just then.

Luki glanced at the number, looked up, and caught Sonny’s eyes with an entirely unreadable gaze. He set his hand on the table, preparing to rise. “Sorry,” he said, “I’d better go.”

“Alright,” Sonny responded, his voice faint. A wish that he’d spent this time with Luki getting to know him a little, rather than engaging in subtle verbal warfare hit him so hard that it took his breath. Heart pounding, acting on either bravery or desperation, he put his hand on Luki’s where it lay on the table. Luki’s hand turned and grabbed hold. His thumb washed across Sonny’s knuckles; his fingers promised Sonny’s palm a kiss, which struck remote bits of anatomy like lightning. Sonny tried to put some of his chagrin into a smile. His lips had gone dry, and he licked them. “Luki—” He stopped, surprised at how the name filled his mouth with something sweet. He laughed a little and went on. “Maybe we can try this again?”

Luki stayed silent, worrying softly at his bottom lip—again.

Sonny stopped breathing.

“Yeah,” Luki said, with that already familiar something in his eyes. “I’d like that. Tomorrow?”

Sonny’s confidence underwent significant restoration as a result of that promising end. He smiled a farewell to Luki and sat a few minutes longer to contemplate and sip the last of his tepid, but still delicious, raspberry latte. Getting ready to leave, he stood, slid his feet more firmly into his flip-flops, and patted his back pocket, as always, to make sure that indeed his wallet was still there. He took a step toward the door, but stopped when he heard conversation around the corner. He’d thought Luki must have gone out the back door to the parking lot, but there was no mistaking his voice.

“The man plays with string, Margie.”

Step one, Sonny thought, deflate ego.

“Oh, yes he does,” Margie said. “And he does it better than anyone I know. Would you like to see?”

Step two: remember who your friends are.

“Not today, Margie. I have to go. Some other day, maybe. I’m sure it’s spectacular.”

Step three: write off potential romance as a loss for tax purposes.

Footsteps. The back door opened, closed. Sonny came out of hiding to find Margie standing with arms crossed and a raised eyebrow.

“Well?” Margie made words like that into whole dissertations, having a talent for saying more when she spoke less.

“The man plays with guns,” he mumbled.

“Quite competently, so I’ve heard. Any word from Delsyn?”

Sonny didn’t mind changing the subject, but thoughts of his too-long-absent nephew hardly cheered him up. He shook his head.

“Don’t worry so, dear. He’ll come home.”

This time Sonny nodded, wished Margie a good day, and started for the door.

“He wants to see your work sometime.” Which, of course, did not refer to Delsyn.

“Don’t bother, Marge.” Hoping to convince himself that he didn’t care, he added, “He wouldn’t know crimson from scarlet if they jumped up and shouted their names.”

THE next day, Sonny talked himself through some considerable misgivings and went to Margie’s as arranged. Luki didn’t show. After an hour and 2.8 lattes, he left. He didn’t say a word, but Margie did. Of course.

“His work is unpredictable, Sonny. He should have told you that.”

“No big deal, Marge.”

“He doesn’t live here, you know. Leases one of those condos up the street, temporarily.”

“Luxury, I’m sure.”

Margie raised her eyebrows. “I expect so. Anyway, he said he lives in Chicago, has a business there, but he can run it from anywhere. It takes him all over the world, I guess, and right now, he has a job here.”

Sonny remembered how closemouthed Luki seemed. “You got him to say all that?” But of course Margie could get a signpost talking if she had a few minutes to spend. She didn’t answer, but she did keep talking.

“He likes it here, said he’s tired of Chicago, tired of always being on edge. Decided he’d stay a while, maybe not work so hard.”

“Why are you telling me all this, Margie?

“Because you want to know.”

LUKI glanced in the mirror for a minimal look before leaving his condo. He’d dressed more casually than he generally did when working—which in the past had been always—but today his face looked even more grim than usual. He didn’t like to see it, anyway. The scar that ran straight down the left side of his face from scalp to chin made him ugly, and he knew it. And he knew that, try as he might to distract people with perfect clothes and beautiful curls, that scar scared people and turned them away. Everyone except kids.

And Sonny James, maybe.

Which explained the grimmer look.

He’d been working, a nasty job that involved a wife trying to get her jewels back from a former trophy husband who, it turned out, had full access to a lowlife but dangerous security force of his own—exactly the kind of job he hated the most, though it paid well. He couldn’t help missing his date… sort of date with Sonny, but Sonny had no way of knowing that. He’d called Margie late that first day and asked for Sonny’s cell. She didn’t think he had one, she said, for practical reasons. That left Luki baffled, and then before he could ask for his landline, things started happening outside. “Tell him I called,” he’d said. Three days ago.

“Maybe I’ll be lucky and have a chance to explain,” he told his reflection.

He walked the four miles to Margie’s for exercise. And because he didn’t think Margie’s would be open this early anyway. Not being someone who could remotely be called a “morning person,” he’d never paid much attention to what time things opened. They were always open before he got there, except when he had to get up for work, in which case he didn’t go have leisurely coffee with a beautiful… exceptionally beautiful man.

I can’t believe it, he thought. I’ve got freaking butterflies in my stomach. Cigarette.

He had one in the first mile and hoped the next three would blow away the smell of smoke. I should quit. Not knowing why he thought St. Christopher might help in a situation like this, he touched the medal he always wore on its chain. Let him be there.

Right. Because I’d certainly be there if someone stood me up without a word and didn’t show up for three days….

Sonny didn’t appear at Margie’s that day, nor the next, nor the next, despite Luki getting there early—though admittedly later each day. Margie said he hadn’t been in after that first day, and when he asked where Sonny lived, she laughed. He hadn’t expected a laugh, but he hadn’t really expected an answer, either—other than the usual, “It’s not my business to tell you that.”

Instead: “You’d never find it, Luki.”

“I’m a detective.”

“Well, if you can detect yourself around the forest, through the bog, and over the back roads, then you’ll do fine. He lives about an hour out of town—not because of distance, because of the roads. Hardly ever comes to town, to tell the truth. One of those reclusive artist types, you know?”

No. He didn’t know. When would he have had a chance to know what “artist types” do with their off time? “What about his phone, then?”

“Well, I don’t know….”

“I’m sure you have it.”

“I do, and I’ve got your phone number too. Do you want me to just hand it out to any looker that asks?”

“If the looker is Sonny James, yes.” He meant it, but it didn’t look like Margie even heard it. She’d already walked away, heading for a table newly filled with four tourists.

Luki left, resolving not to come back with his hopes in the air again. Why he had done it in the first place mystified him. He never pursued relationships. Went out of his way to avoid them, in fact. He liked a tryst as well as the next guy, had honed his skills at sex the same way he perfected his marksmanship and tai chi. But relationships? No; single instances, adding just enough class to keep them from being sordid. He found the idea of a relationship dangerous.

Sonny James threatened his well-being. Better left alone. So he told himself, but after he walked out Margie’s door, he turned around and walked back in.

“You said you’d show me some of his work sometime. Can you do that now?”

Here’s an excerpt (PG rated) from Loving Luki Vasquez

June 20, 2011

(There is a sexy hot excerpt coming later. Just so you know.)

If you want to comment on this or any post, click on the post title to see the comment box at the bottom.

Loving Luki Vasquez Cover

Prologue

Oak Flats, Nebraska, 1982

A MUD-SPATTERED pickup in the front yard of a weathered house. Summer-gold hayfields rolling back farther than the eye could see. In the west, a sinking sun screened by a line of trees—cottonwoods and willows. Under those trees, a band of children just into their teens, whooping and laughing in that way that kids do in the summer when night is just on the edge of the next breath.

Luki ran faster than all the rest, and then looped back to taunt them. Excitement like electricity ran through him. Something about this day, this hour, this prelude to night, was special. “Maria,” he yelled. “I’ll race ya!”

It started a stampede, all seven of the boys and Maria, the one girl who always hung out with them, running as if they could fly, thrashing through brambles and over sticks and stones as if they couldn’t feel them. Out onto the Old Granary Road, onto the bridge, right over the rail and into the river, just as they’d done hundreds of times before.

Luki swam underwater for as long as he could hold his breath, which was longer than anyone, except maybe Maria. When he came up, laughing and spitting, and slicked his hair back out of his eyes, all of the other boys had gathered at the shore, whispering, or maybe arguing. Maria hadn’t even gone in, and now she was worming her way down the steep embankment from the road to the river.

The sun sank under the skyline, and the river turned dark, and Luki felt a chill run through him.

“Hey, Luki, c’mon over here, man.” It was Ronny Jemison, the boy that was a bit taller, a bit rougher, a bit meaner than any of the rest. Maybe the leader, if they had been a gang. “We’ve got something for you. C’mon.”

Ronny scared him when he was like this. Luki had seen the bully push Little Jimmy down the bank, yank Maria’s hair hard enough to put her on her knees, kill birds and frogs and rabbits—anything that lived—just to be killing. But, scared or not, Luki knew he had to choose: go and fight and maybe get hurt, or be deemed a coward and so get picked on—probably for the rest of his life.

So Luki went.

Before he quite made it safely to dry land, Ronny smacked him hard in the face with a balled up fist, and yelled one word, spit it at Luki as if it was made of acid and would flay him.

“Faggot!”

Loving Luki Vasquez—release party!

June 20, 2011

Loving Luki Vasquez Cover

Hi everybody and welcome to the party!

My name is Lou Sylvre, and Loving Luki Vasquez is my first book with Dreamspinner Press. It’s M/M romance, contemporary with a bit of an edge. (This is also my first virtual release party, but I’m already having fun.) Before I go any further, I want you to know a little bit about the novel. Read on—here’s the blurb from the Dreamspinner Press website.

“Reclusive weaver Sonny Bly James controls every color and shape in his tapestries, but he can’t control the pattern of his life—a random encounter with Luki Vasquez, ex-ATF agent and all-around badass, makes that perfectly clear. The mutual attraction is immediate, but love-shy Sonny has retreated from life, and Luki wears his visible and not-so-visible scars like armor. Neither can bare his soul with ease. While they run from desire, they can’t hide from the evil that hunts them. After it becomes clear that a violent stalker has targeted Sonny, Luki’s protective instincts won’t let him run far, especially when Sonny’s family is targeted as well. Whether they can forgive or forget, Sonny and Luki will have to call a truce and work together to save Sonny’s nephew and fight an enemy intent on making sure loving Luki Vasquez is the last mistake Sonny will ever make.”

In a little while, I’ll post an excerpt, but right now, I’d like to get the party started with a contest. It’s easy to participate—just comment under the next post.

Starting right now, if you have questions or thoughts about Loving Luki Vasquez or about me, my writing, whatever—I’m anxious to hear from you. Comment here after any post, and let’s talk. (If you’re at the Dreamspinner facebook page, you may have to come here to the blog to comment.)
Now, for that contest…

Excerpt #2 From Lorcan’s Desire

May 30, 2011

“GODDAMN sons of bitches! If one more of you nasty beasts breaks through this fence, I swear I will be holding a beef sale like this county has never seen.”
Quinn angrily tossed his tools back in his saddlebag and mounted Jeb. He was getting too old and too damn tired to be having to tend to an entire ranch practically single-handedly. Two months ago, that bastard Henderson had started rumors about Quinn‟s sexuality and offered his hands nearly twice what Quinn could afford to pay them. Since then, he‟d lost everyone who‟d worked for him except Ole John and his partner Conner. They‟d been with the ranch when his daddy had owned it, and since they had never hidden their preferences, he was sure Henderson had used them as his next attempt to shut him down.
The bitch of the thing was that no one had ever suspected him before. He‟d always been very discreet the few times he‟d gone over to Jackson to scratch his itch. Hell, he‟d only gone three times in the five years since his daddy had passed and left him the ranch. The only damn grudge Mr. Henderson could have against him was the fact that he‟d refused to sell him his daddy‟s land. The old fart had spent the last five years trying to run him into the ground and make him go

belly-up. It was now like an ugly obsession for them both, Henderson doing everything in his power to ensure Quinn lost the ranch and Quinn, in turn, doing everything in his power to prove the evil fuck wrong.
He couldn‟t begrudge his hands for going where the money was. Before they left, most of them made sure to let him know that they either didn‟t believe the rumors or didn‟t care, that it was purely for financial reasons. He couldn‟t blame them for wanting the extra cash flow. Still, no matter the reason, he was stuck trying to do the work of ten men and wasn‟t sure how much longer he could keep it up. Sighing, he reined Jeb around back toward the barn. No sense worrying on things he couldn‟t control. He had stalls to muck and critters to feed, and hopefully, when he was done, Conner would have him a nice spread on his dinner table.
When he reached the corral, Quinn swung down from Jeb, grabbed the reins, and led the horse to the barn for a much-needed grooming and some sweet feed. Jeb was a damn fine horse and hadn‟t let him down, no matter how much he‟d been demanding from the stallion lately. He‟d just cleared the side of the barn when the sight before him stopped him dead in his tracks.
Leaning back against the fence by the old water pump was either the most beautiful man he‟d ever seen or one hell of a big woman. The vision before him had fine, delicate features, a thin nose, and high cheekbones. Dark brows and thick lashes lay against golden, sun-kissed skin. Though the eyes were closed, Quinn was sure they‟d be as dark and stunning as the long chestnut hair that hung, braided, down the entire length of back to a firm, denim-clad ass. Quinn‟s dick twitched as a pink tongue darted out to lick full, lush lips. Jesus, he needed to get laid if just the quick flick of a tongue was enough to make his dick stand up and say hello. Maybe a little trip down to Jackson was in his near future.
Quinn took a step forward and cleared his throat before yelling out, “Something I can help you with?”
The man jerked his head up and straightened himself to his full height, nearly stumbling. He was definitely male. The sun glinted off

slight stubble on a narrow chin as he turned his head towards Quinn. If that wasn‟t enough to convince him, then the fact that Quinn instantly knew the man dressed to the right was a dead giveaway.
“Jesus, sir, you just took a year off my life.”
Quinn‟s blood rushed south at the sound of the deep, velvet-smooth voice. Oh, yeah, definitely time to head to Jackson.

Excerpt from Lorcan’s Desire

May 30, 2011

This is from the first chapter of Lorcan’s Desire and gives you a good look at the inspiration for cover art. Ann Caine did an amazing job bringing this scene to life!!

THE roads may have been dusty and dry, causing clouds to swirl around each booted step he took, but at least the skies were clear. Thank heaven there was a slight chill in the air, as Lorcan didn’t think he would have been able to take another step had it been as hot as it had the day before. The worst part was that it was his own damn fault that he was in this predicament to begin with. His mama had warned him that it was “rough out there” and had ended her speech with “I’ll see you in a week.” His foolish pride had his twenty-one-year-old butt walking all over this godforsaken country looking for adventure. All he had gotten for his troubles was nine cents in his pocket, no prospects for work or a place to stay, and some nasty-ass blisters on his feet. The last thing he wanted to do was put his tail between his legs and crawl back home to a round of Mama’s “I told you so.” He had one last prospect for work and a place to stay. One last chance to avoid seeing that smug grin on his mama’s face. Or the look of exasperation on Daddy’s face.

The gas attendant a few miles back had told him that the Whispering Pines Ranch was looking for hands, and although he was headed out in the direction the attendant had pointed, he wasn’t feeling all too confident. The way the man had sneered and laughed when he’d asked about work hadn’t surprised him. The way he’d suggested Lorcan was exactly what “those folks” were looking for had even had him fighting back his usual tendency to lash out. Had he not been so I-need-to-find-work-or-starve-to-death-on-the-side-of-the-road desperate, he would have let his fist teach the country bumpkin some manners.

Lorcan was used to people looking at him and assuming they knew his sexual orientation. Because of it, he had learned young how to use his fists to prove he was male enough. Puberty hadn’t improved the delicate, almost feminine features he’d inherited from his mother. Nor had his tall, lean body taken on the bulk and mass of muscles like his father and brothers. Yet he had proven himself over and over to be by far the toughest of them all. Lorcan had eventually found a perverse pleasure in taking down his tormentors. He took to growing out his thick chestnut hair, provoking others further, flaunting his waist-length braid. Only thing he could hope for now, as he walked the back dirt roads of another nameless town, was that “those folks” out at Whispering Pines could use a man with a good work ethic and a strong back, even if his braided hair did curl down around his ass.

As the Whispering Pines Ranch house came into view, Lorcan nearly turned around and hightailed it back the other direction. The big two-story house looked like it would be more at home on the cover of a magazine featuring haunted houses than Ranchers Weekly. Shutters hung from the paint-peeled siding, the porch tilted dangerously to the right, and it didn’t look as if the lawn had been mown or weeded in forever.

He made his way through the calf-high lawn and gingerly placed his boot on the front step, testing its strength before adding his full weight. Remarkably, the half-rotten porch seemed sturdy enough. Lorcan made his way to the front entrance, swung open the scarred screen, and then knocked firmly on the more solid door beneath. Lorcan removed his hat from his head and wiped his brow of sweat as he waited for a response. He strained to listen for any signs that there might be someone approaching the door. When he neither received response nor heard anyone moving around on the other side of the door, he knocked with a little more force. When again there was no sound coming from within, he made his way around to the back of the house and was surprised that the barn and fencing seemed to be in excellent shape. Obviously the owner cared more about the animals and their living arrangements than his own.

An old water pump called to him like a siren, and he headed for it, not realizing until that moment how thirsty he was. He pumped the handle several times before the water began to flow, and he gorged himself on the clean, cold water. Once his thirst was quenched, he took his bandanna from his back pocket, wiping his waterlogged face as he leaned against the fence. He was beginning to regret not cutting his hair before leaving home. He needed to make a good impression, one that would ensure him a job. Lorcan didn’t want to have to make the trek back to his mama’s home, and he damn well didn’t want to have to do it today. With nothing in his belly in over twenty-four hours, an untold number of miles under his boots, and no sleep, he didn’t think it below him to beg the owner for some food and a hay bale to curl up on if they couldn’t offer him a job.

Read more HERE

Release Party: Offside–Third Excerpt

April 28, 2011

Third and final excerpt of Offside.

***

ADAM rolled over, reaching for Colin, and slapped the empty bed. He opened his eyes. No Colin. He sat up on his elbow, listening for sounds from the bathroom. There was nothing. Shit. Had Colin developed remorse overnight? Adam hoped not because the sex was… well, it was awkward, actually. There were a few misplaced elbows, and Adam was pretty sure he had a bruise on his inner thigh, and Colin had fallen off the bed once and laid on the floor laughing until Adam pulled him back up, but it had all worked, more so because neither of them minded. It wasn’t even getting on with it and ignoring the ridiculous stuff. They had enjoyed the ridiculous stuff. They hadn’t even fucked. Just done every other possible thing[...]

[...]And now he was gone. Maybe he’d gone to church. Adam rolled out of bed. Was Colin one of those “wrath of God” morning-after guys? Colin hadn’t said anything, but maybe he didn’t know, this being his first time and all. Adam wasn’t sure if he could handle being part of something that made Colin feel guilty. He stumbled into the bathroom, peed, and brushed his teeth.

When he returned to the bedroom, he noticed a piece of paper lying on Colin’s—already thinking of it as Colin’s—side of the bed.

Lovell wants you in his office at 7:30 a.m. He wanted me at 7:00. I woke you up, but you said something very rude, so I’m leaving this note instead. Don’t say I didn’t try. Colin.

Adam glanced at the clock. 6:55. Shit. Lovell calling him into the office couldn’t be good. He yanked on a pair of jeans and a shirt. Grabbing a tie and his duffel bag, he raced out the door.

Two soccer players facing forward

Adam and Colin had a wild night.

Release Party: Offside–Second Excerpt

April 28, 2011

Here’s a second excerpt from Offside.

Two male soccer players facing forward

Adam and Colin love a good Italian meal.

***
Adam had to look away when Colin closed his eyes and moaned as the cheese burst forth from the pasta inside his mouth. Jesus. Adam shoved a forkful of lettuce in his mouth and concentrated on chewing.

“How are you getting along?” Colin asked.

Adam needed a second to realize that Colin was talking about the team, not about certain things going on beneath the table. He shifted his legs to give himself more room in his trousers. “Logan hates me and Doyle is not going out of his way to make me feel welcome. Logan was good in my position, right? Why take him out?”

“The Ians have a plan,” Colin said.

“Is it for the team to unite through a mutual hatred of me?”

“Just trust them. It’ll be fine.” Colin smiled. He shrugged after a few seconds. “I mean, it’s usually fine.”
Colin had his scrunchy nose thing going, and truthfully, he could have been telling Adam that Lovell was going to make an all-zombie team and Adam would say it sounded great because of that nose. Adam supposed he should be glad that he was self-aware enough to know this. For once he wasn’t overdressed in his suit. All around them, the other couples were dressed up too. Colin even had a tie and jacket on, borrowed from the maître d’. The jacket’s sleeves were too long. He pushed them up every few seconds but got marinara sauce on them anyway. The fifth time, Adam reached across the table for Colin’s wrist, and Colin didn’t protest when Adam folded the cuff inside. He gamely held out the other arm for Adam to do, too.

“Thanks. They were driving me crazy.” He looked delighted, dazzlingly so, and Adam had to look away again. When he did, he noticed the other couples, so the word “couple” was in his mind when he looked back at Colin. Nice restaurant. Nice clothes. Holy fuck, I’m on a date. Maybe he’d been wrong about Colin’s sexuality. And here he always prided himself on not being thick about these things. He looked at Colin again, feeling open and nervous. Colin, for his part, was busy shoveling pasta into his mouth and letting his tongue dart around to catch bits of cheese and sauce (oh God), which wasn’t helping Adam at all.

Release Party: Offside–Excerpt 1

April 28, 2011

The first of three excerpts today from Offside.

THE team’s house (“Hacienda del Gateway,” Colin called it) had a shared kitchen and game room, but other than that the living areas were divided into apartments modeled on deluxe hotel rooms with a living room separate from the bedroom. “It’s right next to mine,” Colin said as he opened the door to Adam‟s space. “I know it’s not much, but that shouldn’t matter to you since you aren’t staying, should it?”

“Colin,” Adam said. “I told you, I’m in for the season.”

“Good,” Colin said. “I hope we won’t bore you too much before you take off.” There was no mistaking that Colin was still offended.

The last thing Adam needed was the only guy he knew in this city disliking him, especially not when that guy looked like Colin. “I know I’m coming off like a dick, but it‟s been a tough few weeks, so maybe you could just cut me a little slack, all right? I promise, I’m not always like this.” He thought of his father saying, “Your face will stick like that” and wondered if that applied to personality too, if being angry for so long and betrayed and fucked over meant that he was going to be unable to shake it.

Colin turned back and smiled, his cheeks pink. “You just need some settling in time. You’re jet-lagged and you’ve been through some tough stuff lately.” He patted Adam’s arm. Adam clenched his teeth so he wouldn’t grab Colin and start doing the things he imagined. Maybe he was wiped out. That was probably why he was thinking nonsense about his dad’s sayings. Thankfully, Colin stepped back.

“You have no idea,” Adam said, once he got his words back.

Taste Excerpt #2

April 4, 2011

“Lil, I’m afraid I can’t make it.”

“Why not?”

“I’m babysitting for a friend,” Grier explained. “I’m really sorry.”

“Is it that kid I saw you with the other night?”

“Yeah, Luca.”

“Bring him along.”

“Are you serious?”

“Is he well-behaved?”

“Very.”

“Then bring him. What the hell, I’m not child-phobic.”

“That’s good to know.”

“See you in about an hour?”

“Okay.”

Grier disconnected and stepped back into his room, where he’d left Luca happily watching The Penguins of Madagascar on the Nickelodeon channel. He was sitting cross-legged on the floor with a Pop-Tart in hand.

“Pick up your crumbs, okay, kiddo?”

“’Kay,” Luca nodded as he chewed loudly.

“And close your mouth while you’re chewing.”

Luca shut his mouth instantly and proceeded to chew his food like a cow masticating grass, moving his jaw slowly from side to side.”

“You don’t need to exaggerate, buddy. You’ll end up with TMJ problems.”

“Huh?”

Grier laughed and ruffled Luca’s dark fringe. “You need a haircut.”

Luca agreed with a nod. “Tito A said I look like a girl.”

“When did he say that?” Grier frowned. Since when did Ali have a say in anything involving Luca? A girl? What the fuck!

“I don’t remember…the other day.”

“At the Taste?”

“No, at home. He came to have dinner with Mommy and me.”

Grier froze. “Does he come around a lot?”

“Not tho much,” Luca said, slipping on the S word.

“How many times, Luca?” Grier raised his hand and spread his fingers. “This much?”

Luca folded down two of Grier’s fingers leaving three standing. “That much.”

What the hell? How come nobody told him about this new development? “Finish up your breakfast, buddy, we’ve got to get going.”

By the time the cab made its way to Bucktown, it was close to ten thirty in the morning. Lil was already waiting at the door, looking very summery in khakis and a Tommy Bahama shirt. He’d left his hair product-free, choosing to have it flop naturally, rather than dealing with a sticky mess that resulted from the high levels of humidity. The end result was more youthful, with the soft hair falling over his forehead. Grier couldn’t help admiring the blond who’d captured his interest so acutely. He would have greeted him with a kiss but held back due to Luca’s presence. “Hey.”

“Hey, yourself,” Lil smiled broadly. “And who is this young man?”

“I’m Luca.” The boy stared at Lil with frank curiosity. “What’s your name?”

Lil was charmed. “My name is Lil.”

“Do I have to call him Tito Lil?” Luca turned toward Grier.

“That would be best,” Grier replied.

Tito?” Lil inquired.

“It means ‘Uncle’ in Filipino.”

“But I’m not his uncle.”

“And neither am I, but we’re adults, and in his culture it would be disrespectful if he addressed us without a formal salutation.”

“I see.”

“Everyone buckle up and let’s get this show on the road,” Grier said, helping Luca into the cab and adjusting his seat belt. They headed toward the Loop, not very far distance-wise, but with the perennial gridlock, they inched their way across town. Finally, a few blocks away from Willis Tower, they asked the taxi driver to stop. Walking would be far more enjoyable than sitting in a stuffy cab. Lil paid and they exited onto the sidewalk.

“Wow,” Luca said, craning his neck when they finally arrived in front of Willis Tower. “I can’t see the top of the building.”

“It’s certainly impressive,” Lil seconded. “This should prove very interesting.”

“Why’s that?” Grier replied, noting the tiny bit of apprehension in Lil’s voice. “I thought you wanted to do this?”

“I’m not comfortable with heights,” Lil confessed. “They make me queasy, and I always have this urge to throw myself over the edge.”

“I’ll hold your hand, Tito Lil,” Luca said solemnly. “Don’t be afraid.”

“Thank you, Luca. I need all the help I can get.” Lil looked at Grier and mouthed. He’s so fucking cute!

Grier smiled. “He is.”

Taste Excerpt #1

April 4, 2011

The sun was beating down on Lil’s shoulders as they stood in line to get on the boat. It was another scorcher of a day, with high humidity levels, but there was a slight breeze which made it somewhat tolerable. He wasn’t used to this kind of weather, being from San Francisco, but he’d remembered the sunscreen and had applied the non-greasy SP 45 lotion liberally on his arms, the back of his neck, and his legs. Jody had loaned him one of Clark’s baseball caps to protect his face and head.

Grier had shown up in another wife beater, a black one this time, with the words Vinita Ice Cream scrawled in neon green. It had big circles in vivid primary colors simulating ice cream scoops splotched throughout.

“Your T-shirt is very attractive.”

“I designed it,” Grier said proudly. “You like it?”

“As I said yesterday, what’s not to like?”

“I meant the T-shirt.”

“I know,” Lil smiled. He couldn’t see Grier’s eyes behind the Oakleys, but the seductive tone of his voice was a pleasant indication that nothing had changed since yesterdays meet and greet. “I thought you moved furniture?”

“Among other things.”

“I like a man of many talents,” Lil flirted.

“That’s me. I’m a veritable jack-of-all-trades.”

The line started moving again, and when they got on the boat they were given a choice of sitting below, in the cabin, or up on top, exposed to the elements. “Do you have a preference?” Grier asked.

“Even though the sun is deadly and will surely age me overnight, I’d rather sit up on the deck.”

“Good choice.” Grier steadied Lil with a hand on his lower back, guiding him up the narrow iron steps onto the open deck. Their seats were toward the rear of the boat, and they conversed while they waited for the rest of the passengers to be seated.

“Tell me about Vinita Ice Cream,” Lil asked. “Does it belong to the group of people you were with last night?”

“Yes. The Garcias are friends, as well as neighbors, and my family helps them each year with the booth.”

“Who does the little boy belong to?”

“Luca is Jillian’s son. She’s Jake’s twin.”

“Jake?”

“My best friend.”

“Oh, right.”

“I’ve known that family since I was four years old.”

“How old are you, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“I just turned twenty-five.”

“When’s your birthday?”

“June eighteenth.”

“A Gemini!”

“Is that a problem?”

“No, it’s a treat. Geminis are wonderfully complex.”

“And here I thought I was just bipolar.”

Lil laughed out loud. “A little duality, perhaps?”

“Something like that,” Grier said, smiling. “What’s your sign?”

“Pisces.”

“I don’t know anything about astrology,” Grier admitted.

“They say that Pisces are the best lovers.”

“Is it truth or hype?”

“I’ve never had any complaints,” Lil stated frankly.

“I like men with experience,” Grier said.

“Do you?” Lil took off Grier’s sunglasses for a minute so he could look into the dark eyes that were appraising him frankly. “Then you’ve just won the jackpot. It’s one of the few advantages of being over thirty.”

“Are you thirty-one?”

Lil handed back the sunglasses but not before he traced Grier’s scruff with gentle fingers and brushed his lips against the luscious mouth in a soft kiss. The brunet leaned into his touch, and Lil was pleased to see the spark of desire in the obsidian eyes before he hid them again behind the smoked glass.

“I’m thirty-seven and holding,” Lil whispered.

“Impossible.”

“Flattery will get you everywhere.”

“It’s the truth,” Grier insisted. “You don’t look your age.”

“I certainly hope not,” Lil said. “Nonetheless, time marches on, and plastic surgeons get more affordable each day.”

“You’re not a candidate yet.”

“You’re sweet,” Lil said, basking in the compliment.

“Tell me about Lyndon Lyle Lampert,” Grier asked. “Do you have a partner?”

“Heavens no.”

“Don’t you believe in love?”

“I do, but I haven’t met the right guy yet, and I won’t settle.”

“Does he have to walk on water?”

Lil laughed. “Not necessarily, but he’s got to make my heart flutter, my breath catch in my throat, my cock surge with interest, and not always in that order. Two out of the three ingredients are a requirement.”

“I suppose I could always glamour you.”

True Blood fan?”

Vampire Diaries,” Grier admitted. “My heart jumps around whenever the bad vamp shows up on the screen.”

“Damon is rather hot, isn’t he? Makes you want to bare your neck willingly.”

“And other parts as well.”

“Slutty boy,” Lil teased. “Do you have anyone special?”

“If I did I wouldn’t be here, would I?”

“Oh, you’re one of those good boys who believes in monogamy.”

“Don’t you?”

“I’ve never found anyone who’d make me even consider it.”

“That’s hard to understand.”

“We can’t all be Clark and Jody.”

“I wish I had a little bit of Clark in me.”

“Hon, you’re just as gorgeous, except he’s got the whole Viking God thing going, whereas you’re more Italian bad boy.”

“Shit,” Grier mumbled. “I’m nothing like Clark.”

“In what sense?”

“He’s out and proud.”

“And you’re not?” Lil was very surprised considering Grier had no problem kissing him in public.

“I take that back,” Grier clarified. “I’m out with everyone except my father.”

“And his approval means the most?”

“Yes.”

“What about your mother?”

“She passed away last year.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I miss her a lot.” Grier looked out toward the horizon, and Lil could feel the melancholy that swamped the young man as memories surfaced. “Her biggest regret in dying so young was leaving me unsettled.”

Lil put his arm around Grier and drew him close. “She was your friend.”

Grier nodded.

“Don’t think that Clark’s journey wasn’t difficult, Grier. His father is a homophobic megalomaniac. I can’t imagine your father being half as bad.”

“I read about Clark’s dad…he’s a little controlling.”

“A little is an understatement.”

“My dad is a good person, Lil. He loves me, and my brother, and has worked very hard to provide a future for us. Unfortunately, he doesn’t understand that my sexual orientation is nothing like his. Mom and I were trying to figure out how to convince Dad to let me finish my schooling, but then she got sick.”

“You’re not done with college yet?”

“Two years of general ed courses is all I’ve accomplished so far. When I asked to transfer to the Illinois Institute of Art, he had a fit.”

“Why?”

“Only queers go for design.”

“Give me a fucking break. Hasn’t he heard of Frank Lloyd Wright? He was one of the greatest architects who ever lived, and he was from the Midwest, for Pete’s sake, and from everything I’ve read about him, an absolute hound with women.”

“Lil, even if he’d heard of him, it wouldn’t make a difference. All he wants is someone to take over Dilorio Trucking, but even Ali won’t touch it.”

“Who’s Ali?”

“My brother, Alissio.”

“You boys certainly have unusual names.”

“Lil isn’t that commonplace either.”

“Touché.”

“Why do they call you Lil? I think I prefer Lyndon.”

“Oh, please, Lyndon makes me sound like an old fart. When I was younger, and utterly outrageous, my friends started calling me Lillian. It got shortened through the years.”

“Lillian,” Grier frowned slightly. “I don’t see it at all.”

“Enough talk about me, okay?” Lil said, embarrassed about bringing up ancient history. Grier was only eight years old when Lil was prowling The Castro and earning that nickname. He leaned into Grier and said, “Let’s postpone this conversation until after the tour, alright?” The boat had finally filled up and was slowly moving away from the dock.