Awakenings Contest Question!

January 6, 2012

OK, a lovely e-book copy of Awakenings (format of your choice) will be awarded to the first person who can tell me……..

…What hotel does Adam work at?

Last Excerpt from Awakenings, by Tara Larson

January 6, 2012

***I WILL ASK A QUESTION AT AROUND 9PM PERTAINING TO THE 4 EXCERPTS I’VE POSTED. THE FIRST PERSON TO ANSWER CORRECTLY WILL WIN A FREE E-BOOK COPY OF AWAKENINGS.***

JUNE had been quietly observing her son over the past couple of weeks. She still had to quash her anxiety about Sean’s “disease,” but she found herself relaxing more and more. He was going to counseling, he was taking the medication she had advocated for, and he was a genuine pleasure to be around. She noted how he relished his role as cook and groundskeeper of the house. She also noted how he never once brought up law school, or Lindsey. She had a nagging feeling that he was hiding something, though… she just couldn’t put her finger on it.

ADAM spent the following weeks with his head down, staying as busy as he could so he wouldn’t dwell on his situation with Sean. He tried to focus on the pieces for his upcoming sculpture show and spent a lot of his free time in the metal-sculpture lab at UM, which he had free access to due to his blossoming friendship with some of the art department faculty members. They had encouraged him months before to show his work publicly and had helped him secure the show he was working toward in the spring in New York. They had also been the ones who talked him into trying out posing for the life-drawing classes, saying he would make a perfect subject with his long limbs and pronounced musculature.

These people were intelligent, successful people, not the opportunistic vampire types that he used to hang out with in the South Beach party scene. He had gotten caught up in that scene a few years prior, when he was entangled in a very destructive relationship. The guy he had dated was named Marco, he was Cuban, and he was a drug abuser. He also was a friend abuser, Adam came to find out.

When they met through a mutual friend, Marco had seemed very charming and seductive. He was a very handsome guy: tall, dark-haired, like Adam. In fact they looked very similar; people used to call them “the twins” whenever they went out. He wore a goatee and had his eyebrow pierced. He had dark brown eyes, which at the time Adam found delicious and mysterious. Later, however, he came to see them as cold and calculating and evil. He spoke Spanish, but together they spoke a mixture of Spanish and English—Spanglish—which was pretty common in Miami for second-generation Latinos who grew up in Florida with foreign-born parents. They frequented the many clubs throughout the hot party scene on the beach together, and Adam often found himself up all night and sleeping all day because of all the drugs he was doing with Marco. He also sometimes found himself waking up in beds he wasn’t familiar with, that belonged to some random third party—sometimes male, sometimes female—that Marco had hooked them up with for a tryst without Adam’s full, lucid consent. He realized that drugs were making his decisions for him when he awakened late one night after having passed out on Marco’s living room couch, only to find Marco in bed with not one, but two other guys in a wild three-way. He left the house when Marco insinuated he should join them, like that had been the original plan all along, had Adam not been such a lightweight and passed out. However, it wasn’t long before Marco wormed his way back into his life again.

Soon after that happened, he also discovered Marco was stealing money from him. Adam’s father had passed away during this period, and Adam, who was lost in grief over his father’s death, didn’t notice at first that Marco had gained access to his bank account. Apparently Marco thought since Adam was now relatively wealthy he should be footing the bill for all their partying and proceeded to pilfer several thousand dollars from Adam, which was promptly blown on cocaine, Ecstasy, alcohol, and expensive clothes. Upon this discovery, Adam realized he’d had it with Marco and his conniving selfishness, and he left him—and the party scene—for good.

It took Adam a couple of months to detox and get over the initial sharp pain of the experience. After he got his wits about him again, he made sure he was disease-free. He had remembered both a guy and a girl from their crowd who had contracted HIV. And there was no telling who Marco had been with half the time. He got a clean bill of health and counted himself lucky to have escaped that whole situation relatively unscathed. It left him with a healthy cautiousness, though, regarding unprotected sex. He knew it wasn’t a harmless activity, especially in Miami.

It was Marco, though, who had helped him get the job at the Rose Bar at the Delano. Marco had a high-profile reputation on the beach as a big spender and a party animal and knew the manager of the hotel well. Adam considered quitting the job when he left Marco, but kept the position, partly out of spite and partly because he really liked the vibe of the bar. It wasn’t an all-night disco, at least, and the hotel was posh; he made good money there and they liked him, so he decided to stay on. He knew Marco would never come in there, anyway; it was too mellow for his tastes.

So, because of the mess he had found himself in with Marco, he reasoned that hanging out with people at the university was a more stable choice than hooking up with unreliable types from the South Beach party scene. It meant a much quieter life, but that was perfectly okay with him. He was determined to live his life as cleanly and as productively as he could now. The only thing that had been missing was someone reliable to share it with.

And then he had met Sean, who seemed to be everything he was looking for and everything he felt like he needed: someone kind and sensitive, who wasn’t a moocher but wanted to be a professional person in his own right, who had artistic interests, and who was incredibly and naturally sensual, despite being an ingénue. He ached over the situation now, with Sean back in Charlotte and being held pretty much against his will by his parents—which to him was baffling. How could a grown man fall prey to such a situation? He reasoned that Sean’s family must have a tight grip on him emotionally for him to even tolerate such crude insensitivity. He also realized that Sean’s family probably wouldn’t be as accepting of him, either—not like his own parents had been toward him. He knew he had to trust Sean to navigate that terrain, as he obviously knew it better than Adam did. It required patience from him, though, and that wasn’t easy to come by. He had to keep busy so he wouldn’t wallow in his thoughts and his anxiety about it.

One evening, while he was in the metal-sculpture lab at UM working out the details of one of his show pieces, his friend Angie, who was also a sculptor, mentioned that he seemed a little distant lately. She asked if he was okay. He acknowledged that he was lost in his thoughts, and then decided to confide in her as to why. She seemed sympathetic to him and wished him well with Sean; she said she hoped to meet him someday. Adam said, wistfully, that he hoped for the same.

IN THE meantime, Marisol could tell Adam was becoming a little depressed, even a little resentful, even though—and perhaps because—he was keeping himself so busy. He would talk about the situation with her, and she knew all the details, but she figured the inability to control the situation was really eating at her son. She knew him better than anyone else.

She confronted Adam. “Mijo, listen to me,” she began. “I see you moping around here, with your eyes all dark and serious, and then keeping yourself so busy you don’t allow yourself time to even think about him. You could be happy and relaxed right now, but you choose to be miserable.”

Adam shook his head. “It’s not that easy.”

“Of course it is easy. Choosing is easy.”

“No, Mom, it’s not. You don’t understand. Sean—he’s special. I feel like he was… like he was gifted to me, you know? I feel like I created this mess—like I created this part of him, like some kind of Frankenstein, I guess—and now I should protect him, or help him, and I can’t. I can’t do anything to help him.”

“Don’t you think he can take care of himself? You don’t think he made his own choices too?”

“Yeah, Mom, I think he made his own choice. But he wouldn’t have even thought about it, wouldn’t have even considered it, if I hadn’t thought, from the moment he walked in that room that night, that he was there for me. I made the moves on him, I initiated it. And now he might be in a shitload of trouble because of it. I feel responsible. And on top of all that, I can’t shake the feeling… the fear that it’s all bullshit, anyway—that he’s just stringing me along. That he’ll never come back. That he’ll never come clean about it to his family or to his girlfriend… that I’ll just be his dirty little secret. That I justimagined everything.” He cradled his head in his hands.

“Bah, mierda!”

Adam looked up, confused. “What?”

“You are loco, mijo. You might be right, he might have been your gift, but he had all the freedom in the world to choose or to not choose you back. You didn’t force him into anything. You are not responsible for that. You have to let that go. He will be okay. He will find a way back. And you know what? If he doesn’t, then you have to accept that your gift was a momentary gift, not a permanent one. He might have a big lesson for you, mijo. And I think you know what I think it is….”

Adam peered at his mother petulantly.

“Let go… and trust.”

THE Sunday evening before the last week of Sean’s counseling, Sean made a beautiful pot roast dinner with carrots, potatoes, green beans, and fresh french bread. He paired it with a smooth Cabernet Sauvignon and had a tangy, hard cheese and grapes to nibble on for dessert. After he cleaned up, he announced he was heading for his room.

As his father reclined in his La-Z-Boy, watching a news magazine show, June slipped into the master suite to change clothes. She walked into her huge walk-in closet and located the personal belongings they had confiscated from Sean: his computer and his phone. She eyed them cautiously before crouching down to open them and power them on.

SEAN locked the door to his room and sat on the edge of the bed, looking at himself in the mirror above the dresser. He missed Adam. He could feel a distance growing between them and he didn’t like it. He really needed to decide how he was going to handle the next few days of his life and how he could possibly transition to a life with Adam. He knew it was completely over with Lindsey; after she revealed her true self by calling his parents over for an “intervention” to keep him in law school—which would also keep her on the track to being a self-serving lawyer’s wife—breaking up with her would be easy. He would go home this weekend, sit down with her, and explain that he was no longer in love with her, that he would never marry her, and maybe, just for another dig at her, he’d tell her he had been fucking Shannon from the gym after all, just to seal the deal. He would let her live in the house because, well, he wasn’t planning on staying there anyway. He could pack up all of his stuff within a week, get a moving van, and… just drive south to Miami? That’s where things got dicey in his mind. He had no idea how to get past that point smoothly. Maybe there was no smooth way to do it… maybe it was just going to have to be a bumpy ride and he should just accept it, hold on tight, and get it over with?

In the meantime, he knew one thing: Adam soothed him. Even just thinking about him, conjuring up his scent, picturing his cool green eyes, imagining how his full lips felt on his lips, his skin, his cock… his mind always turned that direction when he thought about Adam. He was the most amazing lover Sean had ever had, hands down. And he knew it wasn’t just because it was a new experience, his first time with a man; it was because Adam was so attentive, sensual, and skilled in every way. Gender, or the idea of being attracted to one gender while shunning the other, was becoming a blurred image from the past; like Adam, the soul meant so much more to him now.

He sighed deeply as he felt himself grow hard. He lay back on the bed and shimmied off his pants. He grabbed himself with both hands and just held himself in his own grip for a moment, his eyes closed, picturing Adam naked and smiling his sly half smile. He remembered how he had so deftly fucked Adam in the shower and how Adam had enjoyed it so much. That was their last time together before he left. He began stroking himself slowly as he allowed his mind to remember every detail, every sensation, every smell, every taste….

Excerpt #3 (1st SEX SCENE, you know you want to read it!) from Awakenings, by Tara Larson

January 6, 2012


Adam sensed the move was his. He slowly leaned into Sean and pressed him against the seawall. He came into Sean’s personal space, breathing deeply through his nose, and straddled himself over Sean’s upper thigh. He parted his lips and looked down at Sean’s mouth. Sean licked his lips nervously and steadied himself with his hands behind his hips against the seawall.

Adam leaned in close enough to brush his lips against Sean’s gently once, then again, and then once again with his mouth slightly open, giving Sean the tiniest flick of his tongue against his upper lip. Adam’s hand came up to Sean’s face and cupped his jaw as he leaned in for a deeper, open-mouthed kiss. Sean felt himself grow hard. His head was reeling as he kissed Adam, his heart pounding in his chest. He felt Adam’s cock press against him through his pants and opened his mouth in a gasp, allowing a small, low moan to escape. Adam maneuvered his fingertips down the top of Sean’s jeans to find his swollen tip, freeing it from the denim. Sean moaned in pleasure, and the two writhed against each other in the darkness as the ocean purred in the background. As they kissed, Adam caressed and stroked Sean; Sean felt Adam thrusting slightly against his body. Without hesitating, Sean unbuttoned Adam’s black pants and grabbed him in his hand as if it was himself. He instinctively knew exactly what to do. Adam’s mouth opened wide in a soft moan as Sean began to stroke him with his hand, his other hand now behind Adam’s neck.

Both men were now thrusting eagerly into one another’s hands, moaning and hungrily sucking each other’s tongue and lips. Sean marveled at Adam’s technique, how he seemed to know the perfect grip and the perfect pace. Their lengths touched, and Adam pulled them both together in one tight grip with both of his hands. Both of them were dribbling wetness in their excitement; this provided a perfect slippery lubricant for Adam’s hands. This titillated Sean immensely, and he felt like he was about to explode.

“Oh my God,” he said, and Adam knew what was about to happen.

Adam pulled back from their intense kiss and looked down at their throbbing cocks in his hands to watch. He switched his rhythm on Sean’s cock to his right hand while he continued pleasuring himself with his left. Sean’s head tilted back, and he grabbed Adam gently by his hair with both hands as he spilled onto Adam’s hand over and over and over. As he watched Sean climax, Adam exploded over the sand with a loud groan.

Both men moaned as they finished, stroking themselves softly as they began to wither. Adam exhaled and began buttoning his pants. Sean was pleasantly dumbfounded. He felt as if he were floating above the beach watching the two of them in some kind of ecstatic out-of-body experience. Adam smiled and leaned in for one last hungry kiss; his eyes were half-lidded like a proud, satiated panther that had just finished off a graceful gazelle. Sean eagerly accepted it and returned it in kind. He felt a little dizzy and disoriented and wasn’t sure what to make of what had just happened, but he knew one thing for sure: he liked it and he wanted more.

Adam licked his lips and said, “Thank you for that. I, mmm…. I want to see you again. Come see me tomorrow, it’s my day off.” He reached in his pocket and pulled out a card and placed it in the front pocket of Sean’s jeans as he buttoned them up.

Sean, suddenly remembering his situation with Lindsey, felt himself jerk back to his uncomfortable reality. The happy buzz was gone. “Um, yeah. Yeah, okay. I’ll try.”

He realized his hotel room was beachside, behind and above them. He got a little paranoid and gathered himself quickly. He imagined Lindsey awakening, wondering where he was and perhaps looking out of the balcony at the ocean under the moon, only to see him down below near the waves with Adam. He shivered at the thought.

“I should go,” Sean said quickly, guilt beginning to overwhelm him, and he turned back toward the hotel.

Adam quietly followed, sensing a strange shift in Sean’s behavior but figuring it was just his buzz wearing off. It was pretty late, after all, and Adam was tired as well, especially after that amazing release. They picked up their shoes and continued toward the pool area barefooted, carrying their shoes in their hands. Sean nervously brushed the sand off his clothes.

They paused as they reentered the hotel property, neither one sure what to do next.

Sean gestured toward the hotel entrance and smiled uneasily. “Well, I think I need to go up to bed.”

Adam nodded, a little uncertain why Sean didn’t invite him up to his room but willing to give Sean the room he needed. He smiled and said, “Yeah, me too. I’d love to hear from you tomorrow. I put my number in your pocket.”

Sean patted his pocket and smiled. “Yeah, thanks. I’ll definitely talk to you tomorrow.”

“Good,” Adam said with a smile.

Sean didn’t know how to act. He felt like people were staring at them, even though they weren’t. He felt exposed and nervous. His fear and guilt were creeping back in and attempting to overtake the newfound ecstasy he felt just a short while earlier.

Should I hug Adam? Kiss him? God, I want to. No, I can’t do that here. I hate to just leave, though. But I can’t risk anything. I will not just shake his hand, that would be weird, Sean thought. So he just smiled and waved good-bye, like he was saying good-bye to a casual friend.

Adam wasn’t a big fan of public displays of affection, so he wasn’t offended. He smiled slyly at him and tipped his head slightly in Sean’s direction, which made Sean blush a little.

As the two parted, Sean’s heart was racing. Adam looked over his shoulder to watch Sean pass through the hotel doors and smiled. Sean turned around and admired him with a slight pang in his heart. He wasn’t sure what this meant, but he knew he had at least found a kindred spirit in Adam, even if he wasn’t the man from his dream. He knew he’d have to find a way to see him the next day.

As he turned to go toward the elevators, he saw Adam look up at the night sky and smile; then the dark, beautiful creature turned and drifted away into the starry tropical night.

IN THE elevator, Sean felt in his pocket for Adam’s card and drew it out to see what was on it. It was a business card of sorts, with Adam’s name printed in an interesting script on the front: Adam Agostini Lucia.

On the back, his address, phone number, and e-mail address were listed. He lived in South Beach, on the corner of Ninth and West. He tried to imagine how his place looked.

The elevator dinged and opened its doors on Sean’s floor. Sean made his way back to his hotel room. Lindsey was thankfully still passed out cold and snoring softly. Sean crawled into bed and tried to sleep. His feelings and thoughts made his head spin.

Oh thank God she didn’t wake up. What in the hell just happened? What does this mean? What does this make me now? God, that was so intense—and awesome, he thought, a smile creeping across his face in the dark. There would be no answers tonight. He knew he had to find a way to see Adam again, if only to see if this was something real or if it was just a drunken experiment—one of those weird one-night stands. But if it was real, what could it become? Some kind of long-distance situation? It was probably hopeless. He should probably just chalk it up to a really cool life experience. But he couldn’t stop thinking about Adam. And then, looking at Lindsey lying next to him, he felt a little guilty too. She should never find out about this…. Confused, he tried to put it out of his mind and catch a few hours of much-needed sleep.

The sun came up too soon. Lindsey never noticed he’d been gone.

Excerpt #2 from Awakenings, by Tara Larson

January 6, 2012

SOON Adam’s shift was over. Sean, still a little buzzed but functional, followed Adam through the lobby of the hotel and out of the door that led to the pool and the beach, carrying a to-go cup of water with him.

The hotel grounds were amazing. The sprawling lawn, which the Delano formally called the “Orchard,” was ornately lit up and decorated as a tropical, Alice in Wonderland fairy tale, with odd tables here and there surrounded by mismatched chairs and laden with dripping candelabras and odd lamps, a giant chessboard, and an oversized bed in the middle of the perfectly manicured grass. The sound of rustling palm branches murmured overhead and the pool twinkled in the distance. There were people milling about, drinking exotic-looking cocktails and martinis. The warm night air was thick with the salty scent of the ocean and carried the unmistakable aroma of Cuban cigars on the breeze. People giggled and chatted by the pool, some sitting on half-submerged chairs in the shallow end of the sloping, beach entry-style pool with their feet dangling in the shimmering water. On the distant horizon, heat lightning flashed like a disco strobe light, just like Adam promised. It was an outdoor party and everyone was invited.

A group of gorgeous, bikinied ladies in a pool-side cabana caught sight of Adam and Sean as they strolled by and purred a collective, “Ooooh, look at that!” toward the two hunky men. Sean felt a blush of embarrassment, but Adam, in his calm self-awareness, turned toward the ladies in the cabana and gave them a smooth half smile and cocked his eyebrows in their direction in mutual appreciation.

Sean smiled at Adam’s confidence, admiring him. Here was a guy completely sure of himself, completely comfortable in his own skin. Sean was always much more modest than that. And yet, Adam wasn’t cocky at all. He was a perfectly balanced creature, it seemed: half masculine, half feminine qualities, and immensely appealing to all who came in contact with him, apparently.

Sean felt himself letting go. It was an exhilarating feeling. He wanted more. In fact, he never wanted to stop feeling this way. He followed Adam to a set of beach chaises.

Adam said, while removing his shoes, “Let’s leave these here.” The sand felt remarkably soft under Sean’s feet, and he allowed his toes to dig into the sand as he walked. The moon sparkled on the ocean in a white, reflective pool. “So what do you think?” Adam said curiously.

“It’s amazing,” replied Sean. “I never want to leave. I love the ocean. I’ve been landlocked, in every way possible, it seems, for way too long….”

The soft ocean breeze whipped Adam’s hair, and Sean could smell his scent as their steps in the uneven sand brought them closer together. It was an alluring, sweet, woodsy smell, like sandalwood or amber.

Suddenly something in the scent jolted Sean’s memory. He remembered his recurring dream about the glowing angel guiding him to a safe escape behind the musky, glowing wooden doorway. He gasped a little and turned to look at Adam’s face, trying through the darkness to recognize his features from the dream. There was a resemblance, but Sean wasn’t sure it was, or could be, the same man. Not that he believed in fairy tales or anything, but still. It was just too strange a feeling, too strange a coincidence. Adam didn’t notice Sean’s discerning gaze in the dark.

“You should live here, then,” replied Adam, looking ahead of them down the beach, “Seriously. I mean, if you’re so unhappy where you are. Why stay unhappy?”

Sean reflected on his words for a moment and said, “You know, I would give almost anything to be able to do that—move here and start over.”

Adam smiled and looked down at his feet and then out to the horizon over the ocean. “You only live once. Why wait? I don’t believe in regrets. You should go for it.”

It’s got to be him, Sean thought, slightly bewildered. His heart swelled with this new awareness. It feels the same. But what can that mean?

Heat lightning exploded in a spider-web pattern across the far horizon.

AS THEY passed around a seawall they realized they were alone together in the darkness, shrouded by the high wall. They stopped walking, and Adam turned to face Sean; Sean leaned his back against the seawall and turned his head to face the moon. A current of chemistry was building between them; Sean’s heart pounded with nervous anticipation.

Adam took a small step toward Sean and stopped.

They stood silently together for just a moment, Sean looking out over the ocean and the night sky and Adam looking intently at Sean. Adam was a few years older and just an inch or two taller than Sean, but barefoot in the sand, they seemed equally matched.

“I, ah,” Adam began, and he briefly looked out to the ocean to gather his thoughts for a moment before turning back to Sean. “I… like you, Sean Morgan. You seem really frustrated, though, and I hate to see that. I hope you can get to a place where you’re on better footing. It’s just a shame to see such a promising guy feeling so lost in the world.”

“Yeah, I know. It’s true,” Sean said as he turned back to face Adam. He was a little startled by the intensity in Adam’s face. Sean wasn’t afraid of him, he was just surprised. Adam looked seriously hot.

I promised myself I would go with the flow….

“You know,” Sean continued, “I know, I, ah, just met you and all, but… there’s something intriguing and, if you don’t mind me saying so, very magnetic about you. I’ve never, um, well, it’s a little weird for me to say this, but… you make me feel like there’s hope for me, you know?”

Adam smiled in return. “Of course there’s hope for you. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be or what you should do with your life—no one. That includes me, of course,” he said, chuckling.

Normally Sean would have felt uncomfortable with the closeness between them and would have shifted his weight or stepped away from Adam, signaling his spatial boundary. But he stayed put and just gazed at Adam. He knew this was a silent invitation for something heavier, and he kind of liked it, although he was extremely nervous as well. His heart pounded faster and he held his breath as he waited for Adam to move in. He had no idea what to expect; he had never been like this with a guy before. He was resolved to see where it would lead.

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

January 2, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt—Vasquez and James in Seattle

January 2, 2012

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

*

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

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

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

“Not now, though.”

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

“Don’t roll your eyes, Luki—”

What, he heard me roll my eyes?

“We have to leave, and you know it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sonny—”

“And it’ll be like a vacation.”

“C’mon—”

“It’s a really nice one.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

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

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

January 2, 2012

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

*

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

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

“Melvern’s Bucket,” Luki read. “Oh.”

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

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

“It’s not fair,” he said.

“What’s not fair?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Mm-hm.”

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

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

Not smiling. “That too.”

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

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

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

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

Sonny nodded.

Luki said, “I love you back.”

Hello! I’m Lou Sylvre, author of Delsyn’s Blues…

January 2, 2012

… and I’m here to celebrate that the book has been released, today! I’ve got some things I want to post including excerpts, a look into some of the places Luki Vasquez and Sonny James spend their time in Delsyn’s Blues (the sequel to Loving Luki Vasquez, perhaps a bit about Chow-chows, guns, and Grass Dancing. And more… But, I’m open to answer questions, or whatever. It’s a busy day, I know, but if you have time and inclination, please join me.

I’m going to start off with a little peak into the beauty of the Olympic Peninsula, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca in particular, which is the water that edges Sonny James’ isolated home. It’s a peaceful place… usually. And therein lies the story. But here is a photo and a tiny, tiny excerpt that is one of my favorite small moments in the book. (Some of you might have seen this before, when we talked about Sonny’s beany (that’s right, beany) on my Goodreads author blog. I hope you agree it’s worth revisiting.) Then, I’ll be right back with the blurbs and covers for both Delsyn’s Blues and book 1, Loving Luki Vasquez.

Luki reached out, “Come walk with me.”

Sonny didn’t argue or delay, but neither did he speak or smile. He took Luki’s hand and let himself be pulled up and got his flip-flops on, but he refused the jacket. Instead he put on a beanie the color of driftwood and a scarf woven in the pinks and muted blues of a winter sunset on the straits. He’d made them for Delsyn because after Nebraska he was always cold. Wearing them, Sonny looked both armored against grief and vulnerable to its every nuance.

Preview Excerpt: “The Melody Thief,” by Shira Anthony

December 30, 2011

Here’s a sneak preview of the next in the “Blue Notes” series of books, “The Melody Thief.”

Blurb:  Cary Taylor Redding, former child prodigy and international cello soloist, has a problem:  he’s falling for sexy Italian lawyer, Antonio Bianchi.  Which wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, really, except that Cary’s been lying about who he is since he met Antonio.  If he comes clean, he figures he has no chance of sleeping with the man, let alone a relationship.  But then again, he isn’t really looking for a relationship, is he?

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Excerpt from Chapter Two:

Cary awoke in an unfamiliar bed with the muffled sound of voices at the periphery of his consciousness.  “…found him off via Padova.  No identification.  The man who brought him says he’s an American.”

He forced his eyes open and saw the metal sides of the hospital bed, the IV hanging from the pole and where it was taped onto his hand, the light yellow curtains at the sides of the bed, and the white plaster cast on his left arm.

Fuck. His wrist ached, throbbing to a dull beat like an insistent drum.  His head felt like it was filled with jagged rocks.

The last time he had been in a hospital was when he had watched his mother wither and die, her body wracked with pain from the chemo and radiation.  He remembered his own guilt as he had sat by her bed, helpless to do anything.  It had been the final insult, a coda, as it were, to their tumultuous relationship.  He never had been able to do anything right by her.

As his vision cleared, the shadows in the room shifted.  No, not shadows—a man, seated in the corner.  “How are you feeling?” he asked in English as he stood up and walked over to the bed.

Cary studied the other man through a haze of pain killers.  Italian, judging by his accent.  Blond hair, blue eyes, a few inches taller than he, a few years older, too, perhaps in his mid-thirties, and hot as hell.

“Do I know you?” he asked in a tentative voice.

The man looked back at him with a mixture of concern and humor.  “You could say we’ve met.”

“You… you’re the man from the street,” Cary said.  “How long have I been here?” he asked.

“A day,” the Italian answered.   “Perhaps I must introduce myself,” he added, as if realizing that he was being rude.  “I am Antonio Bianchi.”

“C…,” Cary hesitated, then finished, “Connor Taylor.”

It was the name that he used in the clubs.  Or at least it had been, after his agent had bailed him out of jail when a not-so-rainbow-friendly gendarme had caught him—quite literally with his pants down—outside a shithole of a Paris bar.  “What you do with your life off the concert stage isn’t my business,” Georges Duhamel had told him after he’d posted bond, “but you must at least use another name.  I won’t have you toss your career in the poubelle.

When all was said and done (and after he’d had a fake New York State driver’s license made under the name, “Connor L. Taylor”), Cary had decided that he enjoyed being “Connor.”  Unlike Cary, nobody gave a shit if Connor liked to fuck men in the restrooms or alleyways behind rundown bars.  Why would anyone care?  After a few years, “Connor” had become his excuse for the late nights and anonymous fucks—when he wasn’t practicing or performing, Cary was Connor.

“A pleasure to meet you,” Antonio said, after a slight hesitation.

“Thanks,” Cary replied.  “For last night, I mean.”

The broad-shouldered Italian nodded in reply.  “The doctor,” Antonio said, “he says that you may leave when you are ready, but that you have this”—he struggled to find the word—“commozione cerebrale,” he finally said in Italian.  He pointed to his head.  “You know, from falling?”

“A concussion?”  It explained the killer headache.

“Si.  A concussion.  He says you must not be alone for one or two days.  Is there somewhere I can take you?  A person who can look by you, then?”

Cary hesitated.  He supposed he could ask Rowena to stay with him.

“If you wish, you may stay with me,” Antonio offered.

Cary realized with some surprise that the Italian had guessed—albeit incorrectly—that he had nowhere to go.  You shouldn’t be surprised.  You look like street trash. He repressed a smirk at the thought that he looked a bit like one of the street hustlers he sometimes paid for sex.  He wondered what kind of man would willingly take in someone like that, knowing nothing about them.

But then again, it’s not like someone with a broken wrist and a concussion would be a danger to a big guy like him.

He considered the offer for a moment.  It was far more tempting—no, make that Antonio was far more tempting—than returning to his apartment and asking his housekeeper to play nurse and mother.  “I wouldn’t want to impose,” he answered.

“Not at all, Signore Taylor.  It would be my pleasure,” Antonio responded.

An hour later, having spoken with the doctor, Cary was released from the hospital with a bottle of pain killers, anti-inflammatories, and instructions to come back in six weeks to have the cast removed and begin physical therapy, if needed.

Cary’s face was tense as they rode the elevator down to the ground floor.  “This broken wrist,” Antonio said, sensing Cary’s dark mood, “it will make it difficult for your work, no?”

“You could say that.”

“What kind of work do you do?” the Italian asked.

“I’m between jobs now,” he replied.  The truth, although not the entire truth.   His next gig was in Rome in four weeks, and he had been scheduled to teach a series of master classes in Toulouse, France, in early December.

Antonio’s apartment was nearly as big as his own.  The high-ceilinged rooms were tastefully decorated in an eclectic mixture of modern Italian furniture and antiques.  Pictures of smiling children and adults adorned the tabletops and bookshelves.  From the abundance of blue eyes and blond hair in those photographs, Cary guessed these were Antonio’s family.

“You look tired,” the Italian said as he shut the door behind them.  “Perhaps I make dinner while you sleep?”

“Thanks,” Cary answered as he caught a glimpse of a large bed through a doorway to their right.  He rubbed his arm above his broken wrist without thinking and winced.  The dull ache had now become an angry throb.

“May I get you some pills?  For your arm?”  He held up the doggie bag of chemicals the hospital had sent home with Cary.

“That would be great.”

“Perhaps you like to use the telephone while I get it for you?” Antonio suggested.  Cary stared blankly at the other man.  “You know,” Antonio continued, “if there is a person who might…ah—” he struggled to find the word “—worry for you?”

“No,” Cary answered as understanding came.  “I’m fine.  There’s nobody.”

Worry about me? Other than a geezer of an agent and a brother halfway around the world? Justin would care, of course.  They were brothers, after all.  But why bother him and his family?  And Georges—the guy’d have a cow when he learned that Cary had broken his wrist, but only because he’d need to cancel a few months of gigs while it healed?  Yeah, he’d have to tell the idiot at some point, but why rush it?

He thought briefly of Rowena.  She’s your employee.  What does she care if you stay away for a few nights?  It’s not like you haven’t before.

Something akin to compassion—pity, perhaps?—flashed through Antonio’s eyes, but he said only, “Please.  Use the bed.  I will bring you the medicine.”

Cary was almost asleep when Antonio came back into the room with a glass of water and a few pills.  “This will help with pain,” he told Cary.  “I will arouse you when dinner is ready.”

“Mmm,” Cary murmured, repressing a lecherous grin in response to the Italian’s faulty turn of phrase.  It wasn’t all that difficult, really, since he was damn near asleep already and his wrist hurt like hell.

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

December 30, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damn, he smelled good.

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