Crawling Into Bed With
Sedonia Guillone and D. H. Starr
And a Good Book
Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
Sedonia: Cotton. J
Cotton is the popular choice here, it seems. What are you wearing?
Sedonia: My writing uniform: Hello Kitty t-shirt and pajama pants.
Doug: Boxer briefs and a white t-shirt
Would you believe some people show up for these things naked? True story. I swear. What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
Sedonia: Rice cakes and prunes – I am NOT lying. I love both.
Doug: Oh Sedonia, even if it’s the truth, did you have to admit it? Generally I snack on frozen Milkyway Mini’s at night.
Rice cakes, prunes and frozen Milky Ways? Um...I'll have what he's having. If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find?
Sedonia: Mine is a cabinet, actually and you would find: cordless phone, DSL modem and router, lip balm, vitamins and a couple other items that will remain nameless.
Doug: I please the 5th.
You know, all those readers are out there groaning in disappointment over you discretion? Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?
Doug: I kick off the covers, then kick my legs into the air so the material folds under my body, then I roll to the left and right until I’m snuggled like a newborn baby.
Lol. Cute. Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?
Sedonia: Do and I will scream. I need heat! I sleep with a heating pad.
Doug: Hell YES! I sleep with a fan on me in the middle of winter.
And here I ws thinking other than the prunes you all were two peas in a pod. Awesome. So, what are we reading?
Friends to Lovers
Excerpt: Blind Love by Sedonia Guillone
The town was ripe for employment, even in these times when the swelling population of unemployed ronin made gainful work ever scarcer. He could probably even procure several employers all at once, shopkeepers and other private citizens who would want him to stay on their property, guarding them against this current threat. He would have food, shelter and steady work all at once. A welcome rest from endless roaming.
Hirata stood a few moments, staring at the noren curtains hanging in front of the entryway to the dice hall. He had no desire to offer protection services to a bunch of bakuto throwing dice. He’d even heard that Shogunate officials sometimes hired the dice players to win back laborers’ earnings from them. What the laborer broke his back earning all day, he ended up losing at night. Best to go back into town, get something to eat, and then see who was hiring protection.
Shaking his head, Hirata started to turn.
An anma had just rounded the corner and trudged in measured steps, using his cane to guide him, right toward the entrance of the dice hall.
Hirata stared at him. The anma was young. But not very young. Old enough to have reached his twenty-seventh year.
Heartbeat rising, Hirata took a few steps. The anma had nearly reached the front platform. Up this close, Hirata could see his face quite clearly. His breath hitched. His heart lurched.
It was Sho.
Hirata was certain of it. Seventeen years had not erased the delicately chiseled structure of Sho’s face, his high forehead, arched brows, and aristocratically rounded cheekbones and lips. Even though Sho’s hair was shaved to a mere shadow over his scalp, Hirata could envision him with the long sleek hair of his childhood and see his long lost friend.
Before Hirata could speak, the anma halted. He tilted his head first one way then the other, just the way he used to do when they were children and he was listening to a sound far away. Hirata’s breath caught. He stood, frozen, as if Sho were a deer he’d been hunting and was afraid to frighten off by the slightest movement.
The anma turned slowly in Hirata’s direction. “Who’s there?” he asked in a low tone. Suspicion emanated from him.
Hirata approached him cautiously. “Sho, is that you?” Suppressed joy made his voice tremble. “It’s Hirata. I’ve…been searching for you.” He watched Sho’s face for signs of recognition, for the joy of reunion to sweep over his beautiful features.
The anma stood, his head still cocked. His brow furrowed and then he straightened his posture. “I’m sorry,” he murmured, “You must be mistaken. I don’t know anyone named Hirata.” Tapping his cane in front of him, he found the step up onto the porch of the building, passed between the hanging curtains and disappeared into the shadows of the dice hall.
Hirata nearly dropped to his knees. The emotional blow was as painful as a sword through his middle. Panting, he stared in the direction the anma…no, Sho…had just gone. That man was Sho. Hirata knew it. Even after such a long separation, Sho was so deeply a part of him, he could have been blind himself and known that man was his dear childhood friend.
And yet, for a moment, he doubted his own perceptions. Was it possible he was wrong? That his desperation to find Sho would actually fool his mind into believing that anma was Sho? Would Sho have become a gambler?
His need renewed, Hirata steeled himself and strode toward the entrance of the dice hall. Dark coolness met him as soon as he passed through the divide in the curtain and stepped under the eaves.
The gambling was already in progress. An assortment of samurai, laborers and merchants knelt on one side of the hall, the bakuto running the dice game on the other. The dealer, a skinny man wearing only a loincloth and wrist-to-ankle body tattoos, shook a bamboo cup with the dice clattering inside. He slapped the cup down and held it, waiting for the gamblers to make their calls.
Hirata studied the assembled gamblers. And spotted his friend immediately.
Sho knelt right in the center, his cane on the floor at his side, a small stack of coins pushed forward on the tatami-covered floor in front of him. Hirata’s insides jumped. He still couldn’t imagine Sho gambling.
The dealer pointed to Sho. “Your bet,” he barked.
“Even,” Sho said.
The dealer lifted the cup. “Even.”
Excitement trilled through Hirata as he watched Sho put out another stack of coins. A murmur rippled through the hall, a sound that conveyed disbelief at a blind man’s placing a winning bet.
The dealer tossed the dice back in his cup, shook and slapped it down again.
Hirata watched Sho, whose head was tilted in the direction of the cup. When it was his turn to call, he said, “Odd.”
The dealer lifted the cup. “Odd.”
Hirata’s heart pounded. Each time the dealer called the round, Sho put out a couple more coins and each time his turn came, he called the dice correctly until a sizeable pile of money pieces were stacked on the floor in front of him. Hirata suppressed a bark of laughter. Sho’s intensely sharp hearing actually enabled him to hear how the dice landed!
The game continued and Hirata looked forward to witnessing another feat of incredible hearing from Sho, but instead of putting in another bet, Sho pulled his earnings toward him, piled the coins into a small sack which he tied around his torso, gathered his cane and left. Hirata followed him out, trailing him as far behind as he dared. He wasn’t letting this man out of his sight until he knew for sure this was Sho. And then, he wouldn’t let Sho out of his sight until he understood why Sho had denied him.
Up ahead, Sho turned a corner, heading in the direction of the town’s tiny pleasure quarter near the theater. Hirata followed. But when he turned the corner, Sho had disappeared.
“Why are you following me?”
Hirata froze in his tracks. He turned just as Sho emerged from behind a stack of barrels. Sho faced him, his head tilted to the side, his sightless eyes staring downward.
Hirata’s gut lurched. “I—“
“What do you want with me?”
Hirata cleared his throat. “I’ve been searching for my friend for ten years,” he said. He swore he could see the other man flinch slightly and then compose himself. But the response could just as easily been in his imagination. “You…look so much like him. I was sure you’re him.”
The anma stood quietly for several moments. “My name is Jiro,” he said finally. “I’m…sorry to disappoint you.” Then he turned and trudged on.
Excerpt: It Was Always You by D. H. Starr
Doug: Sure. This is a snippet from It Was Always You. In this scene, Caleb, who’s been in love with his best friend Kevin for as long as he can remember, is walking away from Kevin and his new man, Jason. Devastated he’d waited too long, Caleb goes to get a drink and take a moment to recompose himself.
Just before he was swallowed by the crowd, Caleb turned back to face Kevin and Jason. Their heads were close together, both deep in conversation. When Kevin looked up and saw Caleb looking at them, he immediately placed his arm around Jason’s waist and pulled him closer.
Turning away from the happy couple, Caleb forced his way through the tightly packed room. More than one hand ran across his back or landed on his ass along with a few cat-call compliments, but Caleb was too focused on what he’d just heard and seen to gather any pleasure from the attention.
Elbowing two larger guys to the side, Caleb placed his glass on the table with greater force than he’d intended, causing the bartender to turn from the register. “Just a minute, hon.” He then turned from Caleb giving him a glorious view of a well-rounded ass pushing mercilessly at the fabric of worn-in jeans. The guy was shirtless and his back muscles undulated under smooth skin. The line running down the middle of his back was bordered by long ropes of muscle which rounded into square shoulders. All he could see of the man’s blond hair was the tight, stubbly buzz cut. As the man moved, the symmetry of his body drew Caleb’s eyes in like a magnet.
When he turned around, the bulge in the front was just as prominent as the rear view. “What’ll it be, doll?”
Caleb had to forcibly drag his eyes from the sizable bulge he’d been staring at. Unfortunately his eyes had to pass over a rippling torso until they rested on deep brown eyes. The guy’s smile revealed he was entirely aware what Caleb had been doing. Heat flooded Caleb’s cheeks, which must have amused the bartender since he reached across the bar and placed his hand on Caleb’s face for a moment. “Don’t be shy, babe. You’re a hot piece too.”
“Uh, er, thanks.” How long had it been since someone had flirted with him?
They continued to stare at each other until Brown Eyes broke the silence. “So, what can I get you?”
“Right. Sorry. Could I have a Stoli-O Madras?”
“Sure thing, sweetie.” He turned to the bar, and Caleb’s eyes fell directly back to the ass he’d been admiring moments earlier. This guy was hot. Really hot. And he was flirting with Caleb. Come on. He’s a bartender. That’s how he makes his tips.
It had been far too long since Caleb had been out in the scene, surrounded by men. Long enough he’d forgotten that he could still turn a few heads his way. What with the looks, the gropes, and the flirting he’d experienced in the past few minutes, there was no telling what lay ahead if he put himself out there. Maybe that’s exactly what he should have been doing all along. Clearly Kevin wasn’t waiting around for him.
The bartender returned with his drink. “Here you go. What’s your name? I can’t keep on calling you doll, honey or sweetie.”
This couldn’t be happening. A hot bartender wanted his name? “It’s Caleb?”
His response was greeted with a heartfelt laugh. “Are you telling or asking?” As he slid the drink across the bar, he encircled Caleb’s hand with his own, the slender yet strong fingers cool against Caleb’s hot skin. “My name’s Josh.” He pressed a slip of paper into Caleb’s hand. “And the drink’s on me.” With a wink, Josh moved to the next person, flashing his wide smile.
Taking a sip from his drink and one last look at Josh, Caleb turned from the bar and headed back toward Kevin and Jason. He glanced at the slip of paper. Josh had written his number and a request. Call me. It had been too long since someone had shown Caleb this kind of attention. Too long since he’d felt attractive and desired. For once, Caleb took notice of the eyes of club-goers turning his way. Flirtatiousness and stray hands continued to greet him as he walked, each interaction boosting his self-esteem.
With each step, he could feel his feet landing more confidently on the ground, his shoulders pulling back, his head lifting. The recognition he was receiving, something he’d given little thought to over the past few years soaked into him like water into a dry sponge. What perplexed him is how he hadn’t even known he was craving this kind of attention. How had he allowed himself to sink to a place where Kevin’s behaviors defined whether he was happy or not?
By the time he reached Kevin, he’d almost forgotten about Jason. One look at the two of them standing next to one another, leaning together, clinking their glasses and laughing and Caleb’s confidence blew out of him like a balloon deflating. No matter how many men found him attractive, no matter how many hands groped him, they were strangers. There was only one man who held any real attraction for him.
Please include any links you'd like to share with readers.
My website: www.sedoniaguillone.com
Facebook (please friend me!): http://www.facebook.com/sedonia.guillone
You can find me at www.dhstarr.com,
Twitter @dhstarrontwtr, and