Working It Out Release Party—A Taster and a Giveaway

July 19, 2014

Hello, Kristen Slater here again. I thought I’d give you a flavour of my novella, Working It Out, this time. But first, a chance to win something. At the end of the party I’m going to give away a copy of my story to one of the people who comment on my posts here today. It’ll be totally random—I’ll put names in a hat and draw one out—so talk to me and you never know, it could be you.

To start us off, tell me about your first kiss. Was it romantic? Yucky? Perfect? Awkward? Or you can just comment randomly, if that’s what you’d prefer.

So, I promised a taster, and I’ve chosen the opening of the story.

If this whets your appetite, you can buy the whole story from the Dreamspinner store.

You can see what I’m thinking about on my blog and on twitter.
Part of cover of Working It Out by Kristen Slater


What is love, anyway? I mean, you tell me how you know you’re in love.

Joe’s been saying I love you for months. I get the feeling he’s expecting me to say it back. But. I dunno. It just doesn’t feel right, you know? Aren’t you supposed to just know? And I don’t. Maybe I love him. I know I like having him around. Those days when he’s late home and there’s no one in the house when I get back, it feels kind of… empty. But that’s habit, isn’t it? Because most times he’s already there when I walk through the door. So it’s bound to feel odd when he isn’t. Isn’t it?

I remember the day he asked me to move in with him. We’d been seeing each other casually for over a year, meeting up and going to his place or mine for some mutual fun. I’m still not sure how it developed into spending most of our spare time together, but we became really good friends at some point. Then there was the day we went back to his flat in the middle of the afternoon, unable to wait to get our hands on each other’s bare flesh. Afterwards, the late afternoon sun bathing us with warmth, he propped himself up on one elbow and looked down at me with an uncharacteristically serious expression.

“Cas? I like being with you. I like it a lot.” Joe’s hand idly stroked my belly in circles and swirls. “I don’t just mean the sex, although that’s incredible. I like the way we never seem to run out of things to say to each other, the way we like doing the same things, going to the same places.” The hand stopped and rested over my diaphragm, warm and relaxed. “What I’m trying to say is I’d like to spend more time together. All our time. I want to wake up next to you every morning and know I’ll see you again that evening. I’d like to try living together.”

The longer I stayed quiet, the more tense his hand became. His beautiful gray eyes were fixed on my face, as if he was trying to read my thoughts. He’d have had a problem. I didn’t really have any coherent thoughts initially. Then, when I did, I wondered why he was asking. What we had was good. Why change that? Living together was like some sort of heavy-duty commitment. I’d seen enough people who had a good thing going break up after moving in together. And we’re only in our midtwenties, what’s the rush?

I suppose I should have seen it coming. The “I love you” thing. I’d said yes to living together because I couldn’t see a way of continuing to see Joe if I didn’t. And I wanted to keep seeing him. Like he said, the sex was—and still is—incredible. Also, I’ve never been one of those people who have hundreds of friends. I always say it’s because I’m picky and have a different definition of what the word friend means. And Joe was—is—a friend. He isn’t the only one who likes us spending time together. The way I define friend, I’ve only ever had about four or five, and Joe’s the best one I ever had. It’s not that I’m antisocial or anything, but most people are acquaintances. Some closer than others, but still—acquaintances.

Tonight, I’m on my own on the sofa, some program or other on the muted TV providing a bit of light and movement in the corner. And getting all introspective. Tonight’s one of those late nights for Joe. His job at the Council is on flextime, which looks like an excuse to mess people around, if you ask me. Unlike him, I don’t have unexpected delays at work, because the library at the University has set closing times. It’s a specialized library and I help people find the information and references they need, and assess the quality of their sources, as well as the usual library things. You know, making sure everything’s back where it belongs at the end of each day, keeping our journal subscriptions up to date, chasing down students and staff who don’t bring stuff back when it’s due. But mostly I help people with their research.

I came home to a text on the mobile I accidentally left on the kitchen worktop when leaving for work this morning. I could tell he was pissed off about working late. He doesn’t normally swear in texts. Or any other time really. When he gets in, he’ll need to let off steam about his boss, Penny. I keep telling him he needs to get another job. The trouble is, he likes what he does. It’s just her.

I was disappointed. I’d been looking forward to telling him about my day, finding out about his. There’s always some small thing that’s happened in the day and I need to share it with someone—with Joe specifically. He understands what I’m saying, he gets why it was funny, or sad, or annoying. I like to hear what he’s been up to as well. We sit there after dinner swapping anecdotes, snuggled up on the sofa or one on the sofa and the other in a chair, depending on our mood. I feel like I’ve known him all my life, and even when we’re quiet, it’s comfortable sitting together. I don’t have to make this huge effort to be constantly entertaining, and if a thought crosses my mind I know I can say it out loud and he’ll understand.

So. Where was I? Oh yeah. What is love, and how do you know if what you feel is love? Why should I be worrying about this tonight of all nights, you ask? Well, we’re going away this weekend. Joe’s planned this incredibly romantic weekend in Brussels. I know why. Sunday’s six months to the day when we moved his things in to join mine. If we’re going to start celebrating anniversaries and stuff like that, I need to think about what sort of relationship this is. Is this just good fun, or are we in it for the long haul?

15 Responses to “Working It Out Release Party—A Taster and a Giveaway”

  1. JenCW says:

    My first kiss was good. It was a 16 year old boy when I was 12. I thought it was really awesome that this older cute guy wanted to kiss me.

  2. Kristen says:

    It was! I was a late developer. I was 18, he was 20 and neither of us knew what we were doing.

  3. Sula says:

    Hmm funny my experience was similiar to JenCW, although mine was a bit embarrassing and tinged with a sense of danger. Danger that it was one of my older (over protective) brothers friends, he was bout 16/17 and I was about 13. He had been flirting with me for a ages, much to my brothers (all of them) annoyance, and one day we were talking outside and he just leaned over a kissed me. Then he had to run as AJ, my eldest brother, walked out saw this kiss and started growling. Sadly nothing more happened again, as I think my brothers may have had ‘a talk’ with him and he just acted embarrassed when ever he saw me.

  4. Trix says:

    I don’t even think mine counts, since it was under mistletoe…

  5. Kristen says:

    I think a lot of people have their first kiss at about that age. I think I was kind of oblivious, which wasn’t helped by being in an all-girl school from 11-16 years old.

  6. Kristen says:

    Even under mistletoe counts. It was a kiss, wasn’t it? :)

  7. H.B. says:

    I’m going to say I’ve never been kissed. Although there was a incident when the lunch lady gave me a peck on my lips but I always put that off to being her way of greeting people she knew real well.

  8. Deborah H says:

    My first kiss was sloppy. At the time I thought it wasthe best. Lol. But now looking back it was horrible. Haha

  9. Susan says:

    My first kiss was nothing special, more like a rite of passage to get through. I improved with practice later.

  10. Kristen says:

    Hi all, and thanks for stopping in :D

    H.B., I suppose the question is whether you wish you’d been kissed. Or are you looking forward to that first time?

    Deborah, I hope they’ve got better with time. I guess if it felt good at the time, it was good in a way. :)

    Susan, I’m glad to hear it all improved with practice.

  11. My first kiss was okay I guess. It was an older guy and he had a beard which was sort of weird and it was kinda wet and organic and not what I was expecting at all.

  12. Kristen says:

    Hi, Ashavan, thanks for joining in. Sorry it didn’t live up to your dreams. They’ve got better, I hope. :)

  13. H.B. says:

    Very interesting questions that I don’t have an answer for. I’m not sure I will ever find someone I’m comfortable or really interested in kissing. I can’t even say that I really anticipate experiencing that first kiss either. I suppose I won’t find those answers until the time comes when someone makes that move on me and I can experience it myself first hand. In my mind I can’t even imagine myself with someone else. I kind of don’t think it’s in the cards for me.

  14. Kristen says:

    The important thing is if you’re happy with that. I like the way I am. I’m not really suited to relationships and so I’m much happier since not worrying that I ought to be with someone. Normal is a very variable thing and I’ve decided I’m perfectly normal – just near one end of the spectrum, that’s all. :)

  15. It got better. I met a wonderful man whose lips were just incredible and when we kissed time stopped. And I always thought that was a joke, the idea that you could feel that way. Sadly that one slipped away. Sometimes that chemistry is perfect but nothing else works.

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