7/27/2013

What Can You Do With 500 Words? Hanging Out With Cassidy

Welcome back! Today We're flashing to the tune of 500 Words...




 Hanging Out With Cassidy

The night reeked of overwhelmingly sweet jacaranda trees. I took a drag on the clove cigarette, then passed it to Cassidy. I imagined his lips around the thin tube, right where mine had been. Would he feel the warmth of my mouth, the need that pulsed through me with slow, relentless intensity? When he passed the cigarette back, would I be able to taste him on it? I didn't dare dwell on the thought.
We waited for the milling crowd outside the theater to depart so we could make our way over the cobblestoned plaza to the dimly lit parking lot and my 1951 Cadillac convertible. The big old boat of a car had wide comfortable seats guaranteed to give anyone ideas.
I relaxed against the wall, rubbing my shoulders to scratch a mostly imaginary itch.  Cassidy stood quietly as usual, something I liked very much about him. In his company I found an inner peace the rest of the world seemed determined to destroy. We'd hung out a lot this summer, and not just because our mom's were close friends.
"That sucked."  
"Phft." I nodded. The action movie we'd watched scored rave reviews from everyone. We seemed to be the only ones who thought it was a farce. "You got that right. Coffee?" I suggested as casually as I could, hoping he wouldn't notice my breath catching on the last word. I stared straight ahead, watching the stream of people exiting the theater slow to a trickle.
"Nah." He threw his head back and stared up at the sky. I risked a glance at him out the corner of my eye. He skin was pale in the moonlight, his lips a slash of dark color. Thin white fingers tucked strands of dark hair behind his ear.  I detected a faint tremor in those fingers. I know I didn't imagine the way his throat worked as he swallowed.
I caught myself reaching out to reassure him, about what I didn't know, I just knew I didn't like his expression, the way it appeared he had to work up courage to speak to me. Cold chills raced down my spine despite the sultry night heat. Had I given myself away?
"Seth, we have to talk. I can't keep doing this with you."
Oh God. I had. He knew. "Don't. It doesn’t mean anything. I'll get over it, we can just be friends."
His head whipped around, eyes wide dark pools of …something hot and liquid and brain stealing. Fuck. "I have to ask. Seth, we've been hanging out all summer. Is this going anywhere? I keep thinking you're shy, and you'll make your move, then that I made a mistake, that I'm not seeing what I think when I look at you, that it's all in my mind, in my imagination. I have to know. Do you want me?"
Gratitude stole the last of my restraint, and instead of tasting his mouth on the fragrant cigarette, I tasted it for real.


7/26/2013

Promise Me You'll Say Yes : New Extended Excerpt MM Contemporary Romance


It wasn't the reunion they planned....

I'm  going to ask you to do something I have never asked to to do before. Promise me you'll say yes." 


Chapter One

The park at sunrise. How many nights had we ended up here? Coffee from the all-night truck stop in Jamestown in hand, steam rising as we walked, searching for that most exclusive private spot where we could see but not be seen. The bench that was sheltered by just the right number of trees, with the best view of the pond and the flagpoles and the sunrise.

Nights of parties, concerts, hanging out, or working had all ended in this spot. When the fun was done, we sobered up as the sun rose here. When we were exhausted from working those double shifts and pulling all-nighters, the sunrise reminded us why we worked so hard. When we were flying high on concert-induced endorphins, it spun wild dreams in our heads that spilled from our mouths in raucous harmony. The three of us, wrapped in one blanket, sipping from one bottle, from one cup, contemplated that sunrise. In snow and rain and heat and cold we huddled here. For four years, this place colored our lives in ways we couldn't imagine.

The bench we'd claimed as ours drew me onward. My feet recognized the path, if my mind did not. In the inside pocket of my too-thin-for-the-Colorado-cold-but just-right-for-California black leather jacket, the crinkle of paper jabbed at my soul. As much as anything else, it was why I was here.

When I found it, the bench was still the same with its old, wrought-iron rails and splintery wooden slats. I stopped. Progressing from here would be harder. The cold seeped through the inadequate leather soles of my knee-high black boots, chilling my feet. Once I'd known how to dress for the cold. Once cold hadn't mattered. I'd had their warmth to keep me warm. For years I'd had a vision, locked in my head. This bench, this park, the sun rising in the background. The first flakes of falling snow drifting down. On the bench, two men whose heads turned as I approached, who jumped to their feet with open arms and welcoming smiles. The first time we met here, the last time we met here.

Today, I had a memory. A sunrise that would start soon. I forced myself forward, placed one booted foot on the seat and hoisted myself into the familiar position, buttocks perched on the topmost slat of the bench. Splinters prickled against the seat of my 501s, but the first changing light as the sun made its appearance caught my gaze. Since the last time I'd sat here, the last time we'd been together, I hadn't sat through many sunrises. I'd observed a lot of sunsets on the Pacific coast, but the sunrise had become a time of regret.
As I leaned forward to rest my elbows on my knees and prop my chin in my hands, the crinkle of the envelope in my pocket and the crunch of dead leaves on the grass behind me competed for my attention. I drew the envelope from my inner pocket as the footsteps approached. I knew who it was. Had realized he would be here, though how he had known I would be was anyone's guess. It appeared to me that I hardly knew what I was doing, catching that plane, leaving behind friends and commitments. Me. Mr. Responsible. Reliable. Dependable. Had I even called in and told the principal I wouldn't be there for the last week of classes? I couldn't recall. He'd figure it out when the Calc I kids showed up for the key to the classroom, no doubt.

The sudden drag of a wool cap being tugged down over my long hair startled me. It shouldn't have. I should have predicted he'd be in this "taking care of Morgan" mode. At twenty two it had been endearing; at thirty two it pissed me off. Deep, calming breaths kept the anger manageable. Come here, do what needed to be done, get on the next plane back to California, back to emotional stability.

"I see you're dressed for the weather as always, Morgan." Jason's voice was husky, hesitant.
A pair of black knit gloves landing in my lap tipped me over that edge from making a snide remark to throwing an uncalled-for hissy fit.

My jaw clenched tightly. Screw breathing deeply. I yanked the cap from my head, pulling long strands of black hair from the band at my neck, and winced at the tiny pain. I flung the cap to the ground in front of us and looked up the black denim-clad legs to the black pea coat and beyond. My mouth opened to swear, but no sound came out. The hissy fit drained away to something else entirely. My pulse still raced, but for an entirely different reason.

How fair was that? How fucking fair was it that after ten years apart, my hair showed silvery streaks and my face showed my age, but Jason was still the slender, boyish youth of years gone by? Yeah, he'd shaved the dirty blond dreadlocks. Those wire-rim glasses were new, but he appeared as youthful and vibrant, untouched by life, alive as he had when we'd all parted years ago to make those sunrise dreams reality. His black jeans had the telltale smudges of paint, and I'd be willing to bet that underneath those leather driving gloves lurked more paint.

This wasn't the reunion we planned then. It was nine years too late, for one thing. We were one man short, for another.

The bench creaked as he perched next to me on the top slat, and instinctively I grabbed his knee to anchor both of us so we wouldn't topple backward. His hand covered mine before I could jerk it away, and he refused to relinquish it when I tugged. I gave in with ill grace. Jason’s touch stirred physical responses that I’d rather not experience.

"I sent you an invitation to my gallery opening last year."

"I got it."

"You couldn't make it." No judgment. Levelheaded, easygoing, that was Jason. I didn't even understand how he knew to send the damn invitation to the school in the first place. For all I knew, he still lived with his parents and painted in that fucking unheated studio over their garage.

I handed him the envelope. The envelope that had brought me here, as he had known it would, when nothing else could. "I want to buy it."

He shook his head. "It's not for sale. That's not why I sent it to you."

Heat pooled at the back of my neck, and the tiny, irritating noise of my own teeth grinding warned of a potential headache in the offing. I turned, made eye contact for the first time. "Then why? Why send it? Fuck, why paint it? How the hell could you even stand to paint that picture? It kills me that you could have done that, like it doesn't mean fucking anything to you." By the time I spit out the last words, my voice had risen enough to scare off the waterfowl in the pond.

The expression on his face was one I'd never noticed before. I thought I had all their expressions memorized, his and Paul's. Oh, Christ. "Paul." The name slipped out, the memories in. I dropped my head to my knees again, breaking eye contact. I had to create mental distance since physical wasn't possible. I was empty, raw. My stomach tightened and my eyes burned.

"Morgan, it means everything to me. It's all I have. That painting, it's the heart and soul of who I am, who you are, who Paul was." The hand clutching mine drew away, and I nearly protested as cold took its place. Then I felt him fussing. I rolled my eyes as he loosened the band from my hair and combed his fingers through it before gathering it back into a neater ponytail, smoothing the hairs pulled loose by the wool cap. It felt too good to be cared for like that again. I jerked upright and away.

"Damn it, Jason, I don't want to go there. We can't recapture the past! You are not my mother. You are not Paul." I narrowed my eyes and gave him the look that intimidated school board members and recalcitrant football players alike. "Why did you send it if you won't sell me the painting?"

"Were you here? May twenty-sixth, two thousand one? Because I was."

I stared at him. My anger was fading, heart rate returning to normal. The heat from earlier was replaced by a chill that had nothing to do with the low temperature. Surely he was kidding. "Why? Why did you bother? Paul was dead by then. You had to know I wouldn't come."

"No, I didn't. See, somehow, I never thought it was all about you and Paul. Somehow, I thought it was all about you, me, and Paul. I guess I naively believed that without Paul, you and I would need each other even more."

I couldn't speak, but my shock must have shown on my face. With an impatient sigh, Jason jumped from the bench. I automatically steadied myself, swaying slightly as the bench protested the sudden movement.
He tossed the photo from the envelope into my lap. "I have it crated and ready to ship. Pick it up at my parents' house any time. I won't be there."

I didn't look up. I didn't speak. I listened to his footsteps, muffled now by the snow that had fallen on the crunching leaves. As the colors changed and faded from the morning sky, I stared at the photo of the painting that had brought me here. Three men on a bench in a park at sunrise, three heads pressed together, three hands clasped. If one of the images was a little blurry, I couldn't tell if that was the artist's intent, the tears in my eyes, or the snow that fell on the photo.



Chapter Two

May twenty-six, two thousand, the day after graduation, was a day I remembered well. It was the last time we'd sat here at sunrise together at the end of a long night of celebratory graduation activities. We'd started with Paul's family taking us to lunch at the country club. We'd all sat in uncomfortable splendor, making stilted small talk while Paul's parents smiled their tiny, icy smiles of approval at us all. Jason and I were on our best behavior. We'd run tame in one another's homes since we'd met in kindergarten, and it hadn't taken us long to adapt our behavior with Paul's parents to a more sedate, discreet level. As far as the rigid and correct Mr. and Mrs. Archer St. John were concerned, we were still Paulie's best friends, the bohemian painter boy and the cute geek who played chess. Paul's parents had no idea that there was so much more involved now.

From the country club, we'd rushed over to a backyard BBQ at Jason's parents' house, where we could be as openly affectionate with each other as we liked. A sense of impending disaster hung in the air, a something-wicked-this-way-comes aura that compelled us to cling together. We accepted congratulations, drank icy cold beers, and ate hot dogs and chili with Jason's parents and their friends before escaping to the studio above the garage.

The studio had been first our playroom, then our clubhouse, then a studio when Jason began to show an interest in art. Always, it had been our preferred hangout. Jason's studio had been the scene of many an evening of debauchery and mayhem. We'd gotten drunk for the first time there, we'd smoked pot for the first time there, and we'd had sex for the first time there. A ratty old futon and a table next to the easel were the only furnishings. A CD player sat on the floor nearby, and the scent of oil paint and turpentine had seeped into the wood.

Graduation day, we'd fallen together on that futon and held each other close for long moments. We exchanged kisses and caresses, whispers of reassurance and love. In this place we could pretend that our world wasn't changing more rapidly than we'd prepared for. In this place, we could just be...three men in love.

I leaned against the door and watched as my friends, my lovers, hastily shed clothing and set the scene. Jason had Tom Petty pouring from the CD player in no time. I feasted my eyes on smooth white skin, taut, firmly muscled bodies, and hard, throbbing cocks as I slipped out of my own Dockers and dress shirt.
As always when we were close, we couldn't keep our hands to ourselves. I sighed in pleasure. I lay back on the futon in the corner, salvaged from Jason's mom's renovation of the guest room years earlier, and watched Jason and Paul kiss hungrily.

Cheeks flushed and eyes sparkling, they approached me, intent on satisfaction. One hot, wet mouth latched on to a nipple, and the other covered mine. I reveled in the flavor of Paul's mouth as Jason sucked me sweetly, tenderly. I nudged him away.

"All of us, at the same time," I whispered.

A bit of shuffling and rearranging and Jason was on his knees beside the bed, Paul behind him. While Jason tormented me, severely testing my willpower with the seductive heat of his mouth, Paul prepped him for entry.

Jason moaned in gratification as Paul's thick cock slid slowly into his waiting body. Paul paused and we all waited, poised on the edge of orgasm, for Jason to adjust to the invasion. At last his brow smoothed, and his lips parted on a sigh of pleasure. He opened his mouth wide to take my cock to the root, and Paul thrust carefully, his face intent, eyes luminous as they met mine. We leaned forward to kiss over Jason, who arched his neck and twisted his head to get a part of the kiss.

Kisses were forgotten as the end fast approached, and Jason reached for his own cock, to have his hand batted away by Paul, who stroked him furiously, matching his rhythm.

Jason pulled away from my cock when orgasm overcame him, and I stared enraptured as ecstasy washed over his features. Beautiful, he was so fucking beautiful when he came. My own tribute to love spurted, landing in slick arcs across his face, lips, and chin. Paul cried out and slumped forward as he too found satisfaction. We lay in replete aftermath, words of love, soft chuckles, and tender jibes passing for conversation.

The demands of the world couldn't be held back for long, and no sooner had we made ourselves decent than it was time to head off for the next event.

The round of parties and drinking and celebration had lasted throughout the night, and every minute that passed, we became as a unit more desperate to break away. Our time together was precious now, because the next day would bring a big change. Bigger, perhaps, than we had dreamed.

In all our dreamy talks and confidences, reality had never played a part. I never realized how my heart would ache at the idea of being separated from Jason and Paul. I had only considered how wonderful California would be with the beaches, the missions, the cities, and the museums. The job I'd been offered had seemed like a dream come true. A place that wasn't always ass-freezing cold? Summers free, and long holidays? Teaching in California had a great deal of appeal. I tried to convince the others to leave with me, but Paul had a job offer in New York City, and Jason wanted to paint in the mountains. His parents would allow him to stay at home and focus on his art, and he wouldn't even need to work.

So this was it. May twenty-six, two thousand, sunrise in the park. The final sunrise for a year.

We sat together, arms wrapped about each other, staring out across the still water of the pond, focusing on the deep blues giving way to intense reds and oranges, unspeaking. There were no more words to say. This was goodbye. Two of us had flights out of town that afternoon, and one of us had pictures to paint.
"You're coming back, right?" Jason asked.

I turned and reached across Paul, in the middle, to tug on one of Jason's dreadlocks, twining it about my fingers. As I shifted on the bench, my shoulder brushed Paul and sent him swaying as well. His hand landed on Jason's knee as he, too, turned.

"Babe," I remember saying with foolish confidence. "Nothing could keep me away!"

"May twenty-six, two thousand one," Paul's mellow, cultured voice inserted. "We'll meet here at sunrise and see how the year has gone." Paul grabbed our hands, withdrew a pen from his pocket—ever the closet poet, our Paul—and he wrote on the backs of our hands.

"So you won't forget." He drew both newly inked hands to his mouth and pressed a kiss to each inner palm, and my skin tingled in response, as always.

Jason stared at his hand and at mine, then grabbed Paul's hand and the pen. He carefully copied Paul's 5/26/01 sunrise comment and added something I couldn't quite read beneath it. Then he grabbed my hand, and as I watched, he added the same notation to mine. A tiny series of three hearts overlapped under the message.

Not to be outdone, I grabbed the pen and scrawled an infinity symbol below each message, then held out my hand to Jason. "Do mine too." He complied, tracing the symbol below the hearts.

Paul took out his cell phone, and we lay our hands in his lap. He snapped a quick shot, and we sighed in relief. A pact had been made.

This was no end. It was a beginning, and we would still be together.

END EXCERPT 


7/25/2013

Crawl in Bed With Edmond Manning - Bring Your Sunglasses...


Crawling Into Bed with Edmond Manning And a Good Book

1) Important things first, are these sheets silk or cotton?
Edmond:  Cotton. Definitely cotton. Wait, I'm not actually sure. I don't change my sheets very often and so, I'm never quite - oh wait. These are silk. They're dark maroon, sexy, slippery cranberry-colored sheets that deeply contrast my pale, white, mortuary skin. (I'm super pale Irish.)

2) *blinks* I see that. Are you by chance allergic to sunlight? And Garlic? *shakes head* Sorry. Having a "twilight" moment. What are you wearing?
Edmond: Why, nothing of course. Yard after yard of naked, all pasty white boy. Vampires look at me naked, splayed and snoring across the blood-red sheets and whisper excitedly to each other, "Old Country Buffet. Right here." If you're uncomfortable sleeping naked next to the equivalent of vampire cat nip, I can wear my boxers with little duckies on them. I sometimes wear those in winter. 

3) Oh, no. Don't feel obliged to dress on my behalf. I promise not to ogle…much. What are we snacking on in bed while we read tonight?
Edmond:  Oooo - so glad you asked. I poured us both a huge glass of 2% milk. I always drink a big glass of milk before bed. I wasn't sure if you were a crackers or cookies kind of sleepover friend, so I have a little tray to set between us with Oreos, Nutter Butters, those chickeny-flavored crackers, and Cheeetos. Help yourself. 


4) Excellent selection, but I'll have to forego the Cheetos. I wouldn't want to get orange powdery cheese on these silk sheets. If I open this nightstand drawer, what will I find?
Edmond:  DON'T LOOK IN THAT DRAWER. Ahem. What I meant was, you might find all manner of sexy, provocative --awwww, who am I kidding? In my 20's my nightstand drawer was full of condoms, lube, and cock rings. A chain harness. A few old neckties for, you know...but these days it's mostly full of cough drops, Kleenix, Nyquil and floss. You know, in case you wake up in the night and you have Nutter Butters stuck between your teeth. I am officially old. 

5) *chuckles* Do you roll up in the blankets like a burrito, or kick the covers off during the night?
Edmond:  I'm a kicker. Definitely. It amazes me I wake up in the same position every morning:  sheets kicked off. Face down, spread eagle, like a murder victim pushed off a tall building. One pillow behind me. One pillow on the mattress in front of me. My head is never on a pillow. They just...snuggle me. Why is there a pillow behind me? What good does that do? How do I create this same arrangement night after night?

6) Hm. Good question. I suppose setting up a video surveillance to find out is out of the question? Thought so. Can I put my cold feet on your calves to warm them up?
Edmond:  I would prefer you do. I like cold feet on my legs, on my feet. I am a living furnace at night. You could slow-cook a Sunday pot roast in my bed at night. Bring on your cold appendages. 

7) *coughs* Okay then. What are we reading?
Comics. I always read comic books before I fall asleep. In fact, I often am asleep with my arm propping my head up, light on, and after some fantastical dream, I jerk awake and notice that I'm 'mid-reading.' I pull the chain that turns off the light, toss the flimsy comic book to the floor, and nest between pillows, waiting for starving vampires to slobber over me. 
 Oh...I guess we're also reading my latest release, KingMai, by Pickwick Ink Press. It's a continuation of The Lost and Found series, in which narrator Vin Vanbly travels the world 'kinging men,' with his unique brand of erotic sensuality and manipulation.  Should give us interesting dreams tonight. 


Excerpt below:   

The events in this novel take place in 1996

Chapter 1


Ladies and gentlemen, the BBC proudly presents another episode of Vin Vanbly, Farm Spy. Today, we follow the case—nah, no time. Only ten minutes until we begin his King Weekend.

From my hiding spot in the corn, I watch Mai Kearns on his front porch, watching his watch. Watch. Watch, watch. I like the word watch. Kearns wears a solid yellow T-shirt I have not seen before, which means either it’s new or one of his good tees. Yellow looks sexy against his hazelnut skin. I wonder if he realizes that color is perfect on him or if it’s a happy accident. He must know. I’ve been aching to kiss his dark copper neck, to glide my pale fingers down those strong arms, slightly less sunburned than his neck. I want to caress his chest, and to compare his farmer tan to what’s under his shirt. And, of course, his ass. I bet it’s a goldeny-brown, a tender shade that flushes when you kiss it, worship its rippling goose bumps.

His eyes… I can’t wait to see those hard, dark eyes staring right into me. Today I will see his eyes up close, no longer through binoculars.

Over the yellow tee, he’s wearing a white linen shirt, unbuttoned, the one he wore last Sunday when they ate dinner on the backyard picnic table. I almost strolled out of their cornfield to ask for a steak. Hard yellow corn, baked potatoes, fat red and gold tomatoes in a bowl, and his mom made a pie. I wish I knew what kind of pie. I’ll ask him. Tried to catch a whiff, but from my hiding spot, I could only smell dirt and corn.

His flat tummy peeks out as he stretches his arms behind his head. He looks at his watch again. I love his tummy. Slender guys have cute bellies. Or whatever you call his lack of belly.

God, I want to have sex with him.

He glances at his watch again and jerks his arm away. He’s already pissed and I’m not even late. I remained so adamant about beginning exactly at 6:00 p.m. that my impending tardiness will surely burst a vein in his neck.

He leans over the wooden porch’s railing, staring down the narrow, country road leading to his parents’ farm. Still no sight of me. He clunks his worn cowboy boots down the front steps and with clipped strides crosses the house’s front, the only side scraped and primed, ready for its repainting. Standing in the yard, he peers beyond the driveway but he can’t see far, not with cornstalks seven, eight feet high everywhere around us.

Okay, time for the final alignment test.

I step backwards, deeper into the field, and tighten my grip on the cornstalk in my right hand. Pressing my foot against the stalk, I wait until he’s looking away and with my boot, I punch it.

Crack.

Mai’s head snaps straight toward this field. He knows what he heard.

Yup, he loves the corn.

After staring in my direction and hearing northing further, Mai storms back to the porch and flops hard into an Adirondack, his morning coffee chair, lifts his feet to the railing, and then scrapes his boot undersides across a banister spoke. His mom’s not going to like that—Kearns, you know better. But the man can’t stand to be doing nothing, and this latest distraction betrays his impatience.

5:55 p.m.

Fuck it. I can’t wait until 6:00 p.m. I want our time together to start right now, this very second. I stride from the field into the neighboring grass and wait for him to notice me. He’s, what, fifty yards away? Sixty? Not close enough to distinguish eye color or read expressions accurately, but close enough to notice there’s a person now standing here.

Mai stands again and after flicking a few dirt chunks off the railing, catches me in his peripheral vision. He turns to look at me for a moment, peers in my direction, and jumps back a foot.

“Hey, bubba,” he yells. “That’s our corn.”

I love it. That’s what he calls the men in DeKalb. He once emailed me the word meant nothing more than a playful swipe at the locals. He lied. It’s more than a gentle snub. He hates the town bubbas, the redneck high schoolers who taunted him, a hurt exacerbated because he once loved a local bubba. It’s exhausting to hate what you love and love what you hate.

He stares at me, then glances down the road.

I cock my head, but say nothing.

Across the front yard, driveway, and expanse of grass crushed flat and ripped open by tractor wheels, he cups his hands and yells, “You…are you Vin Vanbly?”

I nod.

He yells, “C’mere.”

I shake my head in refusal, exaggerating the motion so he can see it clearly.

I smile, remembering the many months it took us to get here.

When we first started emailing six months ago in March, Mai argued the sheer impossibility of so many kings, arguing the nightmare bureaucratic and legal consequences. He next launched real-world crime statistics like missiles, demanding explanations for how any utopia could remain untouched by humanity’s worst. In another email, he insisted that with many countries barely acknowledging women’s rights, so how could they recognize each woman as the one true queen? Despite his goading questions, Kearns didn’t really want answers.

He wanted to believe.

He waits a minute, staring at me hard. “Hey, could you come here for a moment? I need to talk to you.”

I shake my head again. With my right hand, I motion for him to come.

Fuck talking. I already know he wants to back out. “Something important came up.” That’s about half the excuses I get. Also popular lately is “I only showed up to explain why I refuse go.” Blah, blah, fucking blah.

When I invite men on my King Weekend, they never know what to expect, only that they must submit to my every demand all weekend. When Friday evening arrives, they realize my promise to help them “remember the man they were always meant to be” seems awfully vague weighed against a full weekend of total submission and obedience. I’m sure they worry it’s all dungeon basements and restraints in metal chains but lucky for them, I’m not that kind of guy. I guess I’m not surprised men want to back out at the last minute. I probably would too.

Mai tilts his head and skews his face into what might be a frown. Can’t tell. But I dig the cowboy angle of his body, hands on his hips, fighting me for control over this single moment in time. I wish I had a camera.

Almost the entire Kearns’ farm lies behind him. The dilapidated red and white barns don’t need new paint; they need new wood to go under the paint, and then new paint. The barn they use for storing tractors and hay shows its ribs in a few places, and a few massive corrugated tin sheets stretch themselves across squares of missing roof, protecting its modesty. I can’t imagine it’s effective in winter. The animal barn appears in better shape. They take good care of the cows. It’s clean inside—well, as clean as you can get with forty-three shitting cows. I’m not a farmer but from my night-time lurking around the property, I could identify dozens of necessary improvements once money is found.

No, Vin, don’t think about that. Don’t think about the farm.

He saunters across the yard, extra-casual, attempting to disguise his irritation. Damn he’s hot, even when he’s angry. Maybe especially when he’s angry. I get the appeal of angry men. They carry a clenched power in their eyes and fists, threatening immediate, immoderate action. While I do not want the anger, I love the accompanying raw testosterone. Bring it on, bubba.

After he storms across the white-stoned driveway, he skirts the scything machine, whatever that thing is, careful not to step on the border of impatiens I’ve seen his mom water and weed. Clearly, this rusted thing is beyond salvage. The rubber wheels are years flat, the blades dull and useless. I want to believe the surrounding pink and white flowers communicate his mother’s Midwestern sensibility regarding beauty: if this piece of crap stays in our yard let’s make it look like we intended it. I have to remember to ask him where this machine came from. I have a theory.

When he reaches the grass twenty feet from me, I start backing into the corn.

He stops and puts his hands on his hips. “Yes, yes, just like Field of Dreams. It’s been done, Vin.”

I leap back a few more feet until I’m sure I’m hidden, then turn and dash down the row. People associate cornfields with either Field of Dreams or Children of the Corn. That’s a pretty fair dichotomy: Found Kings’ interpretation, Lost Kings’ interpretation.

For a split second, I question my decision to review the full history of the kingdom where every man is the one true king, every woman the one true queen. Depending on how we move, I may recap the highlights. Okay, stop questioning the weekend flow. I can’t change much now. And no more second guessing. I must stay in the moment or my face will betray clues of what’s to come. Besides, Mai practically memorized the Lost and Founds backstory on my AOL home page just so he could better argue with me.

Get present. Stay present. No more second guessing.

From a distance, I hear him say loudly, “Hey, c’mon. I need to talk to you. What are you doing?”

When I do not answer, he says, “Don’t you guys have corn in Minnesota? Couldn’t you do this at home?”

I remain silent as a gentle breeze ripples through the field and I listen to the fat, broad corn sheaths slap each other across the face, like thousands of rugged drag queens.

Mai is quiet. I am quiet.

It’s not spooky if you’re a farmer, the quiet of the earth.

In the past three weeks, I’ve observed many flavors of quiet while skulking around the Kearns’ farm. Mai drinks his morning coffee in silence, boots perched on the chipped railing until his mom yells from the kitchen. There’s corn-slapping silence, which is not silent at all, but an army of invisible accountants rustling papers. Mai and his father work side by side in silence at times. They talk, they joke, they even argue loud, but in their silence I can hear them share the same love for what they do. Cricket-chirping silence, the silence of dirt, cow silence, and the exhausted quiet of an August day, a day spent milking, pounding, feeding, culling, sharpening, smashing, driving, hauling, milking again, then suddenly guzzling icy water from a sweaty glass at sunset. All that exertion and nobody gets off? I couldn’t handle being a farmer.

Mai enters the cornfield. “Vin? C’mon.”

Last week from this field, I witnessed a more ominous quiet right before evening milking, as both Kearns and his father raced toward the barns from opposite fields. I peered around the sky wondering how they knew, as the storm seemed distant to me, but in a screaming cloud of dust, Kearns jumped out of his pickup and yelled to his father, “I’ll take scratch.”

Didn’t know what that code meant, but they got most of the cows inside before the first serious lightning snaked down and pierced the earth’s skin in viper silence. A hair-raising peal of thunder rent the air and made me drop to my knees, wincing. They stayed in the barn and I remained in their cornfield, alternating between delight in the storm’s viciousness and cowering in absolute terror.

In a tenor close to—but not quite—yelling, he says “Yo, Vin. Chasing through cornfields isn’t as much fun when you’re a farmer. It’s like being at the office.”

Why would he say that? Neither one of us works an office job. He knows that.

“C’mon, man, I need to talk to you.”

I try to imagine the dark shadow across his face as he surrenders and storms down the row where I disappeared. But I already have moved seven or eight rows over and quietly, I think. I’ve been practicing my own silence, racing through cornfields for three weeks. I lost weight, which is good. I’m down to 205, 210.

Okay, fine: 215.

Once I spy his boots deep in our field I shout, “Experts predict family farm ownership will fall by 44% over the next six years, leaving farming in the hands of seven major corporations.”

I take off running down my current row, hunched over at the waist to avoid protruding ears, navigating each stalk with hard-won expertise. I pass him, more than a dozen rows over, and unless he specifically looks for feet, he can’t see beyond three or four rows at a time. I’m confident he does not know my location until I yell my next statistic.

“By the year 2011, the farm crisis will collapse the national food supply chain, rendering millions of Americans starving to death in their own homes.”

I yell over my head, straight up, making my voice harder to trace. I’m already on the move so he can’t make out my exact location. I cross several rows over, race back the opposite way, screaming statistics he gave me regarding pesticides and their long term impact, their decay rates, and in my best imitation of a crow’s hoarse voice, shouting, “Y2K! Y2K!”

Until Mai and his doomsday numbers, I had never even heard of Y2K. Apparently, it’s going to kill us all. Kearns spewed statistics during every email conversation in our early exchanges, and when we chatted live on AOL, he threw numbers at me frequently as well. And here I assumed I read a lot. He mostly reads articles as opposed to books. He hides behind numbers, percentage points, and grim predictions for the future. He thinks they will protect him so that when his heart next breaks he can cross his arms and say, “Told you.”

Mai drops to his knees, peering through the stalks to search for my legs. Good idea, Kearns, but too late—you’re dealing with a cheater. I already left the cornfield and now lie face down on the western edge in the grass, covering my blond skull using the broken stalk and its ears. I can be difficult to spot when I choose.

He stands and yells, “Quit fucking around, okay?”

I can only see his legs, spread-eagle, standing rigid right near the field’s center.

C’mon, Mai, listen. That silence rippling through the corn is your kingship, whispering your true name.

Careful, Vin. Don’t get cocky. Know your place. Though I am in boss mode, I must not forget who is the servant and who is the master. I serve the Found Ones this weekend and though he has not yet crossed over, Mai Kearns is my one true king.

After a moment, he takes off. I recognize his quick stride—he’s fucking pissed. Didn’t take much.

He’s so ready.

I stand, move a few rows in, and yell to him, “Follow my voice. Game’s over. Come this way. I’m over here.”

Mai stomps through the field toward me and once he emerges in my row, twenty or thirty stalks down, I note despite using his body’s bluster to communicate his frustration, he avoids breaking a single ear. Yup, he loves the corn. Problem is, he also hates it.



7/24/2013

WIP Wednesday : Loving Bailey - the Long Awaited Story of Eden's youthful stalker

Way back when I wrote Loving Eden, in January of 2011, my dear friend and fellow author, Havan Fellows said...

"But what about poor Bailey?"

And I had an idea about poor Bailey, but he got pushed aside and things intervened, but finally, he's got his own story coming soon. This week's WIP Wednesday is an excerpt from the pre-edited version. 


LOVING BAILEY 
UNEDITED EXCERPT 
Copyright 2013 © Lee Brazil

Ashton tightened his grip and shifted Bailey closer pulling the younger man almost into his lap. Bailey went willingly curling himself into Ashton and shifting until their bodies were pressed tight together, hip to hip, and thigh to thigh,
"You're sure you want me to move in here with you?" More tease than uncertainty lurked in Bailey's voice this time, so Ashton tickled him in the ribs until he giggled and pushed Ashton away.
"The bungalow is small, I know, but it's close to the beach and the neighborhood is great. If you'd rather live somewhere else, I'm not opposed to looking, but I'd love for you to live here with me while we look." Ashton fell back against the sofa laughing. Bailey lurched forward looming over him. Their gazes caught and held. The laughter died on his lips as he took in the heat in Bailey's blue gaze. He swallowed hard as a surge of passion overtook him. They'd waited so long, resisted the desire that sparked between even as it grew more and more insistent with each glance they exchanged, each kiss they shared, each caress they dared explore. "Bailey..." he whispered.
Bailey's mouth firmed with determination. He shifted, pushing Ashton back into the sofa cushions, propping his elbows against the arm of the sofa so he could lean forward and brush his lips across Ashton's mouth. Bracing himself for a familiar onslaught, Ashton exhaled softly. He'd expected passionate demand and entreaty, this soft coaxing kiss took him off guard and he opened to it immediately.
Bailey scooped his arms under Ashton, and despite their similar size, easily maneuvered Ashton into his lap.  Ashton sat astride Bailey, their lips clinging in a dizzying caress that left him yearning for more.
The drone of the television faded into nothingness, replaced by the steadily increasing rhythm of his pounding heart. The rush of blood sensitized his skin obscured every sound outside his body, until the only sounds he was conscious of were the low soul searing noises that Bailey made as the kiss deepened, and his hands wandered.
Bailey bucked against him, pushing their groins together, and Ashton groaned. Yanking his mouth away, he panted. "Enough. Please."
"Don't you..."
"Please, Bailey. Honey, just a few more days. We've waited this long, a few more days is okay, isn't it?" In need of distance and distraction to get his passion under control, he lurched off the sofa and grabbed the takeout. "What did you get?"

"Thai. Sesame chicken and jasmine rice, from that place around the corner that you like." He didn't need to see Bailey's face to know he was pouting, Ashton could hear the displeasure in his voice.


More of that coming this September! Look for Loving Bailey wherever your favorite Ebooks are sold! 

Check out other WIPS at Laura Harner's Blog & Havan Fellow's Blog

7/23/2013

Glowing Review for Saint's Curse!

In the mood for paranormal with a twist? 

Try Saint's Curse! 

Reviewed by MVasquez at Coffee Beans and Love Scenes! 


"I very highly recommend this book and give it 4.5 stars! The writing is outstanding, with a captivating story and wonderful characters. When I picked up this book, I originally planned to just get started on it. I was going to read a couple of chapters and then finish later, but it didn't work out that way. As soon as I started, I was completely hooked and I read the entire book in one sitting."

Check out the whole review HERE.

Saint's Curse

Luke Leveraux hates seeing suspicion darken Jeremy St. James's eyes when he leaves for his monthly hunting trip, but some secrets just can't be shared.

On the surface artist Luke Leveraux has it all: money, a fantastic historical home, talent. When his boyfriend Jeremy moves in, his life should have been perfect. But Luke's hunting expeditions are a cover for something much darker, and he doesn't dare expose his lover to this unpredictable side of his life.

Art teacher Jeremy St. James has always known about his lover's hunting trips. He just expected that they would stop when he moved in with Luke. Or, at the very least, that he might be included in the monthly excursions.

Someone else knows Luke's secret, though. Someone determined to put an end to the situation.

Available at AMAZON & other fine ebook retailers! 


7/22/2013

Should Be Writing

There are a dozen or more things I could be doing right now. I could be organizing my book cases by genre and author. I could be cleaning out the closets and making up a bag for donation to the goodwill. 

I could be planning out the menus for the week. 

I"m not. 

But I'm also not doing what I should be doing. I SHOULD be writing. 

But I'm not. doing that either. I'm reading the Knitting Series by Amy Lane all over again because I missed Jeremy. 





7/21/2013

Writing Advice...Not From Me, From Someone Who Knows What They're Talking About....

I was clicking around seeking blog inspiration yesterday, and this came up...

Joyce Carol Oates Writing Advice: 10 Tips Tweeted By Author


I was instantly struck... yes! I need to know what this incredible author has to say about writing. 
So I followed the link...
I suggest you do as well. 

Because while she doesn't share any magic formula for writing a best selling book, 

she does say something very important that I need to hear, and that you probably need to hear as well. 

So go on over to HERE and get inspired. 


Be Yourself

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~e.e. cummings, 1955