Release day excerpt for “Possession”

March 30, 2011

It’s release day for Possession, my first novella, so I thought we’d get the party started with the excerpt that can also be found at the Dreamspinner Press site where you can buy your copy of Possession:


IT WAS a sunny Saturday afternoon in the Westcroft neighborhood. A mild autumn breeze stirred Tyler Ward’s dark curls as he strolled along, crunching the dry fallen leaves underfoot. The trendy end of the city was a cross between an artist’s village and boys’ town, a close-knit community that often felt like one big family. Most every storefront on charming yet chic Aspen Avenue was a small, locally owned business that proudly sported a rainbow flag on the premises, and everyone knew their neighbors.

Tyler rolled his eyes as a particularly flaming couple across the street circumvented a ladder leaning against a building, despite having to walk into the street to do so. Some people were so gullible about that sort of thing. Wasn’t it more dangerous to walk into the road and risk being hit than to walk under an empty ladder and risk some vague, mystical punishment of “bad luck”?

The smell of fresh roasted coffee from the Celestial Café, a block down the street, was a perfect complement to the scent of turning leaves in the cool, crisp air. Tyler’s stomach rumbled slightly; it was definitely time for his Saturday afternoon snack. Tyler knew most everybody in their little “gayborhood”—many of the shop owners were good friends of his, and Saturday was usually his day to visit and shop with friends.

“Hey, Ty.” Lukas Zamora, the owner of the café, smiled from behind the counter. Tyler could always be trusted to show up on a Saturday afternoon while business was slow. Lukas put down the local indie paper and automatically poured a cup of hot water, knowing exactly what British expatriate Tyler would be having.

“No extra business from the fair on Chestnut?” Tyler asked, sitting down at the bar.

“Yeah, we were pretty busy earlier. Probably pick up again when they all come back to their cars this evening. Oh, Ty, if you’re shopping, this isn’t a good day for you to… um…. Wait a minute,” Lukas said, pulling up the astrology website on his ever-present laptop. “Here: ‘not a good day to bring home anything impish’.”

“Well, I wasn’t going to hit the sex shop, but now you’ve mentioned it….” Tyler grinned at Lukas.

“Hey, it’s serious, man. Says here it could have ‘disastrous and far-reaching consequences’. See, Mars and Saturn are conjunct right now with Uranus, during a freakin’ Jupiter retrograde. And I think Mercury is also square Saturn, which just reinforces the whole point. You being a Capricorn and all….”

Tyler quirked his brow and smirked at his friend. “Just give me my cuppa, yeah, mate?”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” Lukas said, handing Tyler his usual cup of Earl Grey with vanilla syrup mixed in.

“I consider myself duly warned.” Tyler nodded gravely, handing over a five, taking a peanut-butter brownie, and telling his friend to keep the change.

“You and Kevin coming over for dinner tomorrow?” Lukas asked, putting Tyler’s change in the tip jar, where he knew it would end up even if he’d forced Tyler to take it. Tyler and his partner, Kevin Strabane, had been joining Lukas and his partner, Daniel, for Sunday evening dinners for the last few years. Daniel worked in Kevin’s art gallery and was also a former Briton who had been one of Tyler’s first friends in the US.

“Yeah, of course,” Tyler said, munching on his snack at the counter. “What are you cooking?”

Lukas shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ll probably figure that out when I’m in the store at one in the morning.”

“You need to let other people close up shop once in a while, mate. Well, I’m off. See you guys tomorrow,” Tyler said, finishing his brownie. He headed across the street, sipping on his tea and leisurely window-shopping the avenue. He was tempted to try on a new pair of shoes, the red-brown alligator oxfords in the shoe boutique window really catching his eye, but his shoes already outnumbered Kevin’s by about five to one.

Instead, Tyler continued on to the vintage clothes shop a block up. Stefan, the shop owner, couldn’t wait to show him the collections of Levi’s he’d just gotten in, and Tyler ended up gleefully taking two pairs of the jeans, along with a dark brown corduroy jacket, a belt, and a couple of autumn-toned scarves.

Tyler and Stefan chatted for a bit about news in the neighborhood and around their little circle of friends. Tyler couldn’t help snickering and grinning at the aging drag queen that passed by the shop, waggling fuchsia fingernails at Stefan through the window. Stefan just smiled back politely before shooting Tyler a glare.

“Aw, c’mon, don’t you like Tierra?” Tyler cackled. “I guess I oughta get outta here, though. I think she wants to stop in while you’re not with a ‘customer’.”

“Sometimes I really hate you, Ty,” Stefan muttered.

“Yeah, of course you do, Steffers. You won’t be saying that when I’ve brought you some of Kev’s pumpkin bread.” Stefan was an absolute addict for Kevin’s sweet autumn breads, as were most people who’d ever tried them. “Okay, I’m gonna go poke around in the antiques for a bit. I’ll ring you sometime this week,” Tyler said.

“Alright. No, wait, don’t call me till like Thursday. Lukas told me this morning that there’s something bad about communication for people born too close to each other’s signs or something.”

“Bloody hell. You two are too susceptible to that shite. He told me not to bring home anything impish, for fuck’s sake. What’s that even supposed to mean?”

“I dunno. Don’t pick up any flavored condoms?” Stefan grinned.

“Yeah, well, Kev and I don’t need those anyway. I’m leaving now. I promise I won’t ring till Thursday.”

Tyler just shook his head at all these silly ideas as he crossed the street again to the antiques shop. The prices were a little high-end for him, but he hadn’t been in there in ages, and he really enjoyed just looking at the old and odd things acquired there. He quietly wandered about the three levels of the old house-turned-shop for a little while, looking at hand-painted fireplace screens and paintings of people’s grumpy-looking grans, barley-legged tables and cut-glass wine sets, old porcelain dolls and heavily embroidered ottomans. The soft hum and vibration against his thigh told him Kevin was calling, and Tyler started back down to the main level of the shop as he answered and told his boyfriend he’d be home in about ten minutes.

Just as Tyler hung up, though, something caught his eye. In front of the shop’s downstairs fireplace, amongst several sets of fireplace tools, was a painted cast-iron figure of the mischievous puppet Mr. Punch, in cameo. The prominent chin and drooping jester’s hat made the form of a crescent moon, with a hooked nose, hunched back, and evil grin. The words DON’T YOU TELL were painted along the base of the figure.

It was a rather grotesque thing and patently creepy, but it made Tyler chuckle. Out of pure curiosity, Tyler moved closer to look at the tag, which simply said, “19th Century English Punch doorstop: $50.00+.” It was an incredibly low price for anything in that shop, and Tyler felt like he really couldn’t resist. Sure, it was ugly and disturbing, but Punch and Judy shows were so nostalgically British that Tyler just had to have it as a little reminder of home.

As he signed the check and handed it to the old woman who ran the shop, he couldn’t help grinning as he thought of that horoscope’s warning. It didn’t get much more impish than Mr. Punch. Maybe this would show Lukas and Stefan to see reason when nothing bad happened just because he brought something “impish” home. Because, of course, nothing would happen….

I’ll have a few more goodies to share today as well, including a little bit about me, some background on how Possession came to be, and interviews with my wonderful MCs Tyler Ward and Kevin Strabane.


Enlightened Release Party: Brian and Jamie interview J. P. Barnaby

March 14, 2011

[Brian McAllister]: Hello, my name is Brian and I’m here with my boyfriend Jamie <sweet smile at the mention of “boyfriend”>  and the author who so graciously agreed to tell our story.  Say hi, Jamie.

[Jamie Mayfield]: Hello <small wave and indulgent smile at Brian>

[Brian]: J. P., our series of books are your first with a traditional publisher, before that you were self-published. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

[J. P. Barnaby]: Hi Brian. Hi Jamie. You know, recently, we went through Enlightened and edited it for the re-release by Dreamspinner Press.  It was wonderful to meet you guys all over again.

[Brian]: Wait, you edited it? You didn’t cut out anything important did you?!?

[JP]: Nothing was cut from the original version, don’t worry. In fact, like we talked about a few months ago, the book is now 20% longer (about 10,000 words). Three scenes were  added along with bits and pieces through the novel.

[Brian]: That awesome! I’m sorry, I interrupted you.

[JP]: That’s okay, there’s really not much more to me than you can read in my bio. I read a lot, play video games and keep the writing precariously balanced with my career as a software developer.

[Brian]: Have you written a lot of books?

[JP]: In addition to the Little Boy Lost series, I’ve written two novels, a novella, and two short stories that are all published (except the novella which will be out with Dreamspinner in the fall) and maybe a dozen stories that aren’t. These are being loaded onto my website [http://www.jpbarnaby.com] as free fiction as they are edited.

[Jamie]: Where is the best place to find your stories if someone were looking?

[JP]: They could find everything under my author biography at Amazon.com  or on my author profile at Goodreads.com no matter where the story has been published.

[Brian]:  Okay, okay, enough about you… Let’s talk about us. <laugh> Where did the idea for Little Boy Lost come from?

[JP]: It came from you, and from Jamie. At first, you started just giving me bits and pieces, glimpses into your story. Then, we started to sit down and really talk – after that, it just flowed.

[Jamie]: Tell us a little about the first book. That time was so turbulent for us. It was hard, but at the same time…wonderful.

[JP]: For me, Enlightened is a beautiful story – but then I’m biased because I’ve come to care for you guys so much. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the last year.  The story is about love and loss, faith and fear, acceptance and persecution. It’s about two teenage boys who find solace and love in each other amid the hatred and bigotry of their small town.

[Brian]: Did you find our story difficult to write?

[JP]: In some ways, I did, but in other ways it was easy. The love and happiness were easy to write while the pain and sorrow broke my heart for you.

[Jamie]: Enlightened was originally released in March 2010, exactly one year ago. People have been waiting for the second book for a pretty long time. Is there an expected release date for Abandoned?

[JP]: Abandoned will be released by Dreamspinner Press on May 16, 2011. After that, the books are scheduled to be released every 2-3 months. One of the great things about working with Dreamspinner is that they have an established process. Each book goes through the same process on a clearly defined schedule.

[Brian]: Okay, can we get a peek at Enlightened?

[JP]: Sure. This is one of my favorite scenes in the book – your first kiss.

<Jamie reaches over to take Brian’s hand and smiles>


From Little Boy Lost: Enlightened

As I watched, his expression softened, the fear and the shock replaced by a different emotion. He kept his eyes on mine and leaned forward ever so slightly and then hesitated. If I hadn’t been watching him so intently, I wouldn’t have noticed that he had moved at all. When I didn’t punch, scream, or even back away, he leaned in a little closer—an unspoken question in his eyes.

Do you feel it too? 

I felt his warm breath on my face; he was so damn close. My heart rate accelerated wildly, and I could hear the blood pounding in my ears. He whispered, almost too softly for me to hear.

“Please… please don’t hate me.”

Then, in the lightest of touches, soft but unyielding, his lips pressed against mine. My eyes closed, and I felt a rush of emotion, sexual tension, something, building within me. As his mouth molded over the contours of my lips, we reveled in the untamed surge of passion that flowed between us. The kiss was delicate, sweet, and lingered just long enough to make me want more. I had waited my whole life for my first kiss, and while it wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured it in my youth, it was perfect. His lips were warm and smooth as they moved against mine, causing a swelling tension in my stomach. The rain continued to pound the tree house roof as my arms nearly ached to go around him. I was scared to break the spell that had enveloped us. It was everything that a boy’s first kiss should be.

Only it wasn’t with a girl.


[Jamie]: God, I was so scared. I really thought you were going to hit me.

[Brian]: Have I ever hit you? <strokes Jamie’s face gently>

[Jamie]: No, no you haven’t…  Okay, JP – if I promise not to tell anyone, including Brian – will you tell me if you gave us a happy ending? <Brian smacks Jamie’s arm>

[Brian]: There, now I hit you.  She’s not going to tell us that!  Uhmmm… Are you?

[JP]: Nope. We have a pretty long and dangerous road ahead of us, and I want everyone to enjoy the ride.

Excerpt – Little Boy Lost: Enlightened by J. P. Barnaby

March 12, 2011

Little Boy Lost: Enlightened coming March 14th
As I watched, his expression softened, the fear and the shock replaced by a different emotion. He kept his eyes on mine and leaned forward ever so slightly and then hesitated. If I hadn’t been watching him so intently, I wouldn’t have noticed that he had moved at all. When I didn’t punch, scream, or even back away, he leaned in a little closer—an unspoken question in his eyes. 

Do you feel it too? 

I felt his warm breath on my face; he was so damn close. My heart rate accelerated wildly, and I could hear the blood pounding in my ears. He whispered, almost too softly for me to hear. 

“Please… please don’t hate me.” 

Then, in the lightest of touches, soft but unyielding, his lips pressed against mine. My eyes closed, and I felt a rush of emotion, sexual tension, something, building within me. As his mouth molded over the contours of my lips, we reveled in the untamed surge of passion that flowed between us. The kiss was delicate, sweet, and lingered just long enough to make me want more. I had waited my whole life for my first kiss, and while it wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured it in my youth, it was perfect. His lips were warm and smooth as they moved against mine, causing a swelling tension in my stomach. The rain continued to pound the tree house roof as my arms nearly ached to go around him. I was scared to break the spell that had enveloped us. It was everything that a boy’s first kiss should be. 

Only it wasn’t with a girl. 


About Little Boy Lost: Enlightened  | View Trailer 

Little Boy Lost is the story of Brian McAllister, the boy next door. 

Brian goes to school, does his homework, and helps his foster parents around the house. Brian also has a secret: he is in love with his best friend, Jamie. But in Crayford, Alabama, being in love with another boy is the worst kind of sin. 

 Brian and Jamie will discover just how deep their emotional bond runs, and at what cost. What will they do if their secret is discovered? From fumbling through their first sexual experiences to hiding all aspects of their relationship from everyone in their lives, Brian and Jamie battle for the one thing that is truly theirs—love.

Undercover Sins: excerpt

March 7, 2011

“Ty,” Demetrius spoke gently and moved over. “You did splendidly,” he whispered against Ty’s ear. “I was amazed by your action. Do you not have any fear?” Demetrius put his arms around Ty and pulled him close.

Ty felt his body reacting to Demetrius’s: increased heartbeat, shortness of breath and heating skin. There was no reason for these reactions other than the shock his body had just gone through. “He’ll kill me,” Ty whispered without fully realizing.

“He won’t touch you.” Demetrius’s lips brushed Ty’s neck. “He knows you belong to me.”

“I don’t,” Ty stated, and Demetrius chuckled.

“You will if you want to live.”

Ty gasped and pushed Demetrius back. “You planned this.” He studied Demetrius’s calm expression. “You force me into being collared by you just to live.”

“If I wanted to own you, I wouldn’t need to go to such lengths,” Demetrius said evenly. “Hitting Arden was not a reaction I had expected. When I said ”bite”’ I meant with words.”

“Why are you after me?” Ty narrowed his eyes. “Your payment last night, the bonus, the suit, and the payment for tonight is all too extravagant. What are you after?”

Demetrius sighed and shook his head. “You might not understand, Ty, but being a man like me, you get very bored. You can have everything you desire. No one treats you as an equal. Do you know how long it has been since I had someone as brazen as you play a game of chess with me?”

“That game was hardly normal.”

“That’s my point,” Demetrius laughed. “You’re so different. You don’t seem to care about my status or the fact that if you anger me you’ll be gone tomorrow. I am most taken by that attitude.”

Ty shook his head. “You aren’t making a lot of sense.”

“If you please me tonight with the attitude and behavior I think you have, I want you to be as near me as Lee is,” Demetrius explained with a child-like smile.

It all seemed too strange to Ty. Was Demetrius truly this easy to win over? “You’ve never met anyone that treated you unlike a Greek god?”

“Arden hardly counts.” Demetrius seemed to read Ty’s mind. “He is my rival for ownership of the business his father runs. He is afraid of me because I hold no fear toward him.”

“Do you want to make me a pet?” Ty questioned. “You don’t partake in pets.”

“In title and outward appearance, yes; except you’ll have two lives like I do. In private you won’t need to behave like a pet, but in public I only need you to give the appearance of a loyal pet.” Demetrius leaned back and explained with a soft smile. Ty had never hated that smile before this moment, but now he saw how easily it deceived. “I still agree to no games,” Demetrius added.

As he saw it, Ty had two options: becoming a pet or losing Demetrius. He could remain close to Demetrius and gather the evidence he and his department needed to arrest Demetrius only if he agreed to be a pet in public. Of course, Lesley would not agree to it. A pet’s treatment was poorer than that of a whore. Pets were discarded by their owners at the slightest whim. Could Ty wander into Demetrius’s world as a pet and remain sane?

Purchase Undercover Sins from Dreamspinner Press. Paperback or ebook.

Mr. August by K.R. Foster

February 20, 2011

Hello, everyone! *Waves*

I’ll be the first to admit that I was nervous about writing for this anthology. I tend to dwell in the land of fantasy and science fiction, and honestly had no intention of writing a contemporary cowboy romance.

However, my younger sister always tells me that I should forever be willing to try something new; as usual, she’s right.

Sometimes writing is like trying to breathe underwater without an oxygen tank—useless and impossible—just one step away from death. But sometimes, on occasion, a story just wants to be told and the words pour from my fingers without hesitation. Those are the stories that I most enjoy working on. Luckily for me, Mr. August is one of the stories that doesn’t want to drown me. *Grins*

Mr. August isn’t what I expected it to be, certainly didn’t head where I thought it would, and proved to me once again that the words are the mistress and I’m their slave. I hope you enjoy this daylong ride outside my comfort zone; I know I did!

Synopsis:

Colby Fremont, owner of Ghost Creek Ranch, has learned everything he needs to know about city boys. They’re only good at one thing—leaving. But famous photographer Ethan Walker won’t get off Colby’s property, no matter how many times Colby tells the damned boy that he isn’t interested in being in Ethan’s cowboy calendar.

Excerpt:

Colby Fremont huffed in annoyance and yanked open his front door to stop the incessant knocking. He took one look at the man on his front porch, glared, and slammed it shut again.

“Mr. Fremont! I—”

“No!” he snapped, perfectly aware that his gruff voice would carry through the door. When the knocking started up again almost immediately, he turned and stalked across the wood floor of his living room, boots clomping loudly.

The doorbell started ringing at the same time as knuckles rapped again, and Colby barely restrained the urge to take his shotgun off the wall and blow a hole through the door. He most certainly was not going to participate in that… travesty. Ugh.

After turning the corner and entering his large and empty kitchen (his workers were actually out working like honest men), he strode toward the back door, scooping his beaten brown Stetson off the table and onto his head along the way.

Smirking once he realized the aggravating harassment of his front door had ceased, Colby twisted the doorknob, opened the back door, and walked right into the bastard who was no longer on the front porch.

“Mr. Fremont, I’m—”

“Can’t you read, boy?” Colby asked, looking down his nose at the overly hyperactive runt who couldn’t possibly have graduated from college yet.

The too-thin lips snapped shut for just a moment. “Of course I can!”

“You sure? Because I’ve lived here my whole life, boy, and I distinctly remember there being a Private Property: No Trespassing sign way down by the mailbox.” He gestured off east, toward the dusty road that led onto his ranch. “It’s black and orange—damn near impossible to miss.”

“I did see it, Mr. Fremont.” The kid stuck out his chin, which lacked even the barest hint of stubble. Had the runt even hit puberty yet? His brown hair flopped in his eyes like a puppy dog, that girly haircut all those actors in Hollywood seemed to favor.

“Then why’re you here, boy?” he drawled.

Additional Information:

To purchase Riding Double, the anthology that contains Mr. August and several other cowboy tales, please go here: Riding Double.

My other published stories can be purchased here: K.R. Foster.

Additionally, feel free to e-mail me if you would like to discuss my stories, offer constructive criticism, or just talk about writing. My e-mail is kamerreon@yahoo.com.

Thank you! Happy reading!

K.R. Foster

Facing Up

February 20, 2011

Donovan looked at me like he was still trying to figure me out, and I guess he was debating my honesty as well.  I must have passed muster after a while, because he reached down and took my hand in his and brought it back to where it had been.

“I like you too, Kyle,” Donovan replied. “I’ve been waiting a hell of a long time to hear you finally admit that.”

I was more dumbstruck by his words than the feel of his hands pressing against me once more. Maybe I was drunk after all.  I leaned toward Donovan, hoping I wasn’t reading this all wrong. A thing like that could get you killed out here, but I found I couldn’t care less about that once Donovan met me halfway and our lips touched for the first time.



 

Excerpt Time! The Demon Catcher, by Lesley Hastings

January 6, 2011

If you head over to the Dreamspinner page for The Demon Catcher you will see that there is already one excerpt up, from the beginning of the novella. But right here, exclusively for the readers of this blog, is ANOTHER EXCERPT.

I chose this excerpt, from about 1/3 of the way through the novella, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an exciting scene set just before a very crucial turning point for Euan’s character — things are never going to be the same for him again. Secondly, this is the first scene that I wrote for this novella — so it’s special to me, and I’m glad to be able to share it with you.

The excerpt is under the cut:
Continue reading “Excerpt Time! The Demon Catcher, by Lesley Hastings” »

Who wants to win a copy of Final Encore? Someone…Anyone? Please………

November 19, 2010

Hello again, Scotty Cade here.  By now, if you’ve been reading my blog postings, you probably know way more about me than you need or even want to know, but heck, you only launch your first book once, so thanks for indulging me.  So now, would you like to see what all the hype is about?

At the end of today, we will put the names of everyone who commented on any of my blogs posts today  into a mason jar (remember, I am from the south), and give away an autographed hardcopy and an electronic copy of “Final Encore.”  In addition, if I have bloggers from Georgia, I will draw for two tickets to the Tony Award winning play “Rent” opening in December at Fabrefaction Theatre, Atlanta’s hottest new live Theatre venue,  where I have a book signing on December 10, 2010.

Please visit me at my website as well — and let me know if you would like to be notified when my next novel, Wings of Love is coming out (scheduled for sometime in February 2011).

Good Luck!

Scotty Cade

Excerpt – Final Encore by Scotty Cade

November 19, 2010

My first book — Final Encore — is being released today.  I hope you will take a moment to read the excerpt below — and if you like what you read, just click on the cover picture to learn more.

Billy’s drive from New Orleans to Nashville was long and uneventful.  The uninterrupted hours of interstate, with country radio stations fading in and out, gave him a great deal of time to plan a strategy, at least a short term strategy.  The first day he arrived he would find a hotel, look for a day job to help with expenses, and then look for a more suitable place to live. 

As the first few days passed, he missed his family terribly, but was nonetheless energized with the infinite possibilities of the unknown.  Nashville was his new home and for as long as it would have him, he was happy to be there.  The first week, as planned he searched the want ads for a position that would sustain him financially.  He answered several ads and within a few days, had a great lead.  The position was for a foreman at a large horse farm just outside of town called the Lazy H Ranch.  He set up an appointment to meet the owner at ten o’clock the next morning.  It wasn’t his dream job, of course, but it would pay the bills until he found something in the music business.

 When Billy turned in under the large iron arch etched with “The Lazy H Ranch,” he looked down at his watch to confirm he was right on time, nine forty-five.  Billy drove down the dust covered road and after a half mile or so, he saw two large barns on either side of the drive with what looked like an old farm house that he assumed was used for command central.  When he got out of his truck, he was looked over, more than greeted, by a rough and unfriendly looking sort.  The man was short and stocky, carrying about thirty extra pounds on his frame.  His skin was scarred from years of acne and his teeth were stained from what appeared to be chewing tobacco, as indicated by the Styrofoam cup he spit into.  Hoping this wasn’t the owner, Billy introduced himself and learned the guy was a ranch hand named Buck Stevens.  Buck directed him to wait near the east barn and someone would be with him shortly. 

Billy waited around for about forty-five minutes and no one approached him.  He was about to go back and remind Buck that he was still waiting when he saw a tall, ruggedly handsome man walking in his direction.  The man, who reminded him of an older version of the Marlboro Man from the old cigarette commercials, walked up and offered his hand.

“Hi, I’m Jules James. I’m the owner of the ranch. Are you William Eagan by any chance?”

“Yes sir, but I go by Billy.” 

The two shook hands and looked each other over for a few seconds before Jules broke the silence. “I had just about given up on you, son. I thought your interview was at ten o’clock.”

“It was, sir,” Billy replied.  “I arrived at nine forty-five and Buck told me to wait at the east barn and someone would be with me in a minute.  I was just about to go back and see Buck, when I saw you walking over.”

“That’s funny,” Jules said. “I told Buck to have you meet me at the west barn.  I have a mare about to foal and I want to be there in case there are any problems.”

“I’m sorry about the confusion, sir,” Billy said. “Would you like me to come back?”

“No problem,” Jules answered.  “Why don’t you walk with me to the west barn and we can have a chat along the way.”

“Yes sir,” Billy said, and the two men headed to the stables.  

On the short walk, Billy filled Jules in on his experience with horses and why he was in Nashville.  Jules, of course, had heard the same story many times before, but listened intently and offered words of encouragement. 

They soon reached the stall housing the expectant mother.  The mare was lying on her side and as they watched her tense up every few minutes, it was apparent she still had some time before she’d deliver.  Billy thought she looked a bit distressed, but held his tongue and tried to get a better gauge on the situation.  As they examined the mare more closely, Jules continued to tell Billy about the ranch operations and the job he had available.  After the examination, Billy was sure something was wrong.  More convinced now, he mentioned it to Jules.

“Good call,” the ranch owner said.  “I was just about to tell you I’m certain the foal is breached.”  Billy spent the next several hours helping Jules try to get the foal in the right position for a natural birth.  Eventually they succeed and by late afternoon the little filly was born healthy.  

Once the danger had passed, the two men, impressed with each other’s abilities, cleaned up and headed back to the tack room to put the supplies away.  As they entered the tack room, Buck was filling up the feed barrels and looked up and eyed Billy.

“Well, Billy,” Jules said, “I’m pretty impressed with your knowledge and skill.  As far as I’m concerned, I’ve seen as much as I need to see.  If you want the job, it’s yours.”

Before Billy could speak, Buck turned around with a disgruntled look on his face and stormed out of the tack room, brushing Billy’s shoulder in the process.

“Wow,” Billy said.  “What was that all about?”

“Oh, don’t pay him any mind,” Jules replied.  “He interviewed for the job, but I just don’t think he has the skills to be a foreman. He’s a little hot headed for my taste.”

“If I take the job, is he going to be a problem for me?” Billy asked.

“Don’t you worry, I’ll deal with him,” Jules said.  “Does this mean you’ll take the job?”

“Yes sir,” Billy replied and the two men shook hands.

On the way back to the office, Jules said, “My wife and I own a little club on Broadway and I’m headed there for couple of beers, then right back here to check on our little one.  You want to join me?”

Billy said “Sure,” and within ten minutes they were on their way downtown.

When Jules’s truck pulled up to Jean’s Magnolia Saloon, they got out and headed inside. 

As Jules opened the door to the lounge, Billy’s eyes struggled to adjust to the dark lighting, he glanced around.  It was much larger than it looked from the street, he guessed about the size of a small supermarket.  On one side, the large mahogany bar ran the full length of the room.  Opposite the bar was a raised stage with a colorful set of drums, an electric keyboard and various musical instruments on stands. In the center of the room was an expansive oblong dance floor surrounded by split rail fencing with openings at each end, and what looked and smelled like fresh sawdust scattered about. Over-stuffed chairs in numerous groupings, along with high cocktail tables and bar stools provided ample and comfortable seating.

Jules immediately led Billy up to the bar and introduced him to a beautifully matured, very well dressed woman behind the bar pouring beer from a tap. His first thought was that must be Jules’ wife Jean and his second thought was that she To him, she didn’t look like she belonged behind a bar. As he studied her, he noticed her tall slim body.  She looked to be about five foot nine and her weight around one hundred and twenty-five pounds, give or take. Her smile was beaming. With her dark brown hair and deep brown eyes; she appeared to be the epitome of joy, strength and sincerity. He had heard the term “ageless” before, but had never really understood it. It had nothing to do with how young a person looked although this woman looked very youthful. It was really about natural style and confidence

“Hey, hon,” Jules said, “this is Billy Eagan.  He just joined the Lazy H as our new foreman, but he really wants to be a country singer.  Billy, this is my wife, Jean.”

Jean stuck out her hand and Billy said, “Pleased to meet you, Mrs. James.”

“Nice to meet you, Billy, and please call me Jean.  Welcome to Jean’s Magnolia Saloon. By the way, you any good?”

“Well, ma’am, I’ve been told I am by more than just my family and friends,” Billy replied, “and I sure hope no one’s been pulling my leg.”

Jean smiled.  “Monday nights once a month, we have open mic and you’re surely welcome to join us.  Many celebrities got their start here.  We have a regular crowd of talent scouts that hang around on open mic night just to see if they might just catch the next best thing.”

 “When’s the next one?” Billy asked.

“Tomorrow night, but you better show up early because every newcomer dreaming of stardom will be here and ready to go. And the best thing is, the winner gets to be the opening act for the headliner for the month until the next open mic night.  We open the mic at ten, but you better get here by eight to sign up. We only have time for ten acts before the regular house band starts.  I hope to see you tomorrow,” Jean added, as someone down the bar called her name.

“I’ll be here,” Billy said as Jean walked away. “And thanks.”

Jules and Billy sat at the bar enjoying small talk for an hour or so, getting to know one another at a leisurely pace.  Jean came and went as business dictated, but always came right back and joined the conversation.  Finally, after all the business seemed to be addressed, Jean landed on the bar stool next to Billy.

“So what’s the hot topic you two seem to be so involved in?” Jean asked.

“Oh, we were talking about the Ranch,” said Billy. “Jules was telling me you guys live in Brentwood, but that he sometimes stays at the ranch when he needs to pull a double, or when they’re expecting a foal, things like that.  So how long have you two been married?” “Forty-nine years now and still going strong,” Jules said, as he reached behind Billy and gave Jean a squeeze. “What about you, do you have a girlfriend, son?”

“Uh, no sir,” he replied.

Jean chimed in, “I don’t mean to assume anything, but do you have a boyfriend?”

“Uh, not at the moment, ma’am,” he said with a grin.

Both Jules and Jean smiled and Billy’s eyes got as big as quarters and they all broke into laughter.  When they were finally able to control themselves, Billy asked, “So how did you know about me? I mean, I try not to spit sequins when I talk .”

As they all chuckled again, Jean said, “Our son is gay and we’ve been around you sweet boys for over twenty years now.  One’s gaydar becomes pretty accurate after so many years.”

“I guess it does,” replied Billy.  “So, Jules, how will the boys back at the ranch react when they find out?”

“Oh, no need to worry about those lugs, they’re all harmless.  You may take a little ribbing every now and again, but if you pull your weight they’ll respect you and it won’t matter none.  But I would keep my eye on Buck. As I mentioned, he’s somewhat hot headed and he already has it in for you since he thinks you stole his job.”

Billy said, “I can take care of myself, but when Buck’s around, I’ll sleep with one eye open and a baseball bat under my bed.” 

The three of them enjoyed the rest of the evening and around midnight began to say their goodbyes.  Jules asked Billy if he wouldn’t mind taking the pick up back to the ranch and checking on the little filly, so he could go home with Jean.  She would drop him off in the morning on her way in to town. 

Billy agreed and drove back at a leisurely pace, taking a mental recap of all that had happened to him since he left New Orleans.  He eventually made it back to the ranch, and after checking on the mare and filly, hopped back into his truck and headed back to his motel room for the last time.  When he got there, he stripped down to his shorts, brushed his teeth and climbed into his bed.  For a long while he laid there and anticipated the next day and night.


Click on the bookcover to find out how to purchase Final Encore.

We’ll also be having a drawing at midnight tonight – free signed paperback, or     ebook or, for Atlanta people, 2 free tickets to RENT, beginning December 3rd at Atlanta’s hottest new  entertainment venue – Fabrefaction Theatre!

(I’ll be there for a book signing on December 10th for the evening show.)

Drawing tonight at midnight – 3 prizes!

November 19, 2010

Tonight at midnight 3 drawings from the names of people commenting on today’s blog. You could win any one of these just by leaving a comment and your contact information:

Signed paperback copy of Final Encore.

Free Free Final Encore ebook.

For people in the Georgia area – 2 free tickets to Fabrefaction Theatre’s production of RENT beginning December 3rd.

Good luck!

Scotty Cade