10/31/2016

Little Things, The Walking Dead, Rebate #caffeinateme #thewritestuff

It's the Little Things…

Good morning. *sips coffee* *grins* Summer's gone, the heat is fading. I even though it was 80 degrees yesterday.) Winter is breathing heavy on the horizon. We've already had a few nights of "where's the extra blanket" weather here in the Midwest.

We're loving it. For one thing, the colors of fall are amazing, and we are beautifully situated to enjoy it all. Red, burgundy, yellow, gold… the hills are clothed in my favorite colors. And… it's soup weather. Soup is one of my all-time favorite foods. I've got some great soup recipes to share with you- both were extremely well received by the clan- at various points in the coming week. (Beefy Mac and Creamy Chicken). As is my wont, I googled how to make the soups I remembered from my childhood, then fiddled with the recipes to use the ingredients I had on hand. (Sometimes this procedure is not so successful!)

As if all that weren't enough to make fall awesome, my brother and his family are coming down for thanksgiving and bringing my mom with them. Full house! Turkey day is one of the best family holidays. I love to have a big crowd gathered around the table.

In other news, I have still not recovered from the trauma that was The Walking Dead s7 ep 1. I'm not sure recovery is possible. Aside from the emotional impact… there was the whole bloodbath aspect of the thing. Just what are these writers trying to say about the nature of humanity, anyway? That we're all just savage idiots at heart? This is what I despised about William Golding's The Lord of the Flies when I was forced to read it thirty years ago- and Conrad's Heart of Darkness… and so many pieces of great literature.



Thank the creative forces for Romance Novels. Under the direst of circumstances, mayhem, murder, zombie outbreak, people discover love and realize what is best in themselves. *mutters* I guarantee you that if the world goes to hell, I will be surviving on my own wit and ingenuity, not using violence to compel others to ensure my survival.

Do you think there's any er… jibe intended in the fact that Negan was a high school coach before the Zombie outbreak? Is this social commentary on the brutality of high school sports and the mentality that it instills in our kids? Perhaps we should be investing in needlepoint clubs and chess championships instead of football? Is the competitive culture going to be our downfall?

No? Hm.

Anyway, I have not yet watched episode 2 of The Walking Dead. I'm not sure when I'll be able to do that. When I can stop seeing that blood soaked baseball bat, I suppose. *shudder*

Today, there's a great rebate sale over at All Romance. 50% back on your purchases so you can shop again another day. Awesome time to stock up on reading material, begin your holiday shopping, or just indulge yourself in a sweet or sexy read. Click here to save some $. All Romance 50% Rebate Link

The main projects for today are to get the social media wagon back on the trail – and that means streamlining my presence- and beginning the read through of the first draft of Parkerbug #4. Havan is working on the epilogue, so the actual story is finished. FINALLY!




9/14/2016

Popcorn, formatting, where's the sun? #mmromance #writestuff #caffeinateme


Good morning all! *sips coffee* A little gloomy out this morning, but the sun has finally made an appearance. Which effort I greatly appreciate. 
Last week I bought a box of popcorn. A LARGE box. Like twenty packets of microwave popcorn. You'd think we were opening a movie theater, that's how much popcorn is in our kitchen right now.
I didn't know why.
But as I sat here this morning, looking around the kitchen and trying to find distraction from formatting Taking the Dare for rerelease later this month, it hit me.
Popcorn is special food. (Yes, I am aware that it has been around forever.) Birthday cake special. Lasagne special. 
Now, you have to remember, when I was a kid, #3 of 9, in the seventies, with a stay at home mom and an always at work dad, things weren't like they are now.
You couldn't just grab a packet and stick it in the microwave and be munching on buttery popcorn in minutes.
Nope. There was a special pan, and a crank that had to be turned constantly. And butter that had to be melted and drizzled exactly, so that all the popcorn was buttery, salty, but not soggy or mouth puckering.
The whole process was a stove top nightmare that took way longer than anyone wanted to wait. Because you see, we couldn't pause what we were watching. Or restart it. Or anything. And it wasn't on video of any kind, or available to rent, or stream. And it wasn't going to be on television again any time soon either. Movies played once or twice a year, if that. Some of them were annuals. You like Miracle on 34th Street? Great. You can watch it again next Christmas!
If you went to make popcorn, you were missing part of that movie. And sometimes, that movie was all that had gotten you through a crappy week.
So popcorn was special.
And I've been having a crappy time, so I stocked up on something special to make it better.
Popcorn.
MMM. Even the smell makes me smile.


Have a great day everyone! I'll be off formatting, and maybe enjoying a little treat if I get my work done today. 


M/M Romance at Amazon
99¢ September Only! 

Can a tawdry office romance lead to more?

9/12/2016

Dark, sunrise, coffee, confession time #sale #amazon #returntowriting #mmromance

Hello readers and friends!

5:30 this morning and it is DARK outside. *sips coffee* Just waiting on the sun to rise over the woods and we can call this day started. Spent the weekend enjoying the sunshine and being grateful to those who served our country, whether on the streets or in the armed forces. September 11never fails to spark those feelings in me, and I am generally at a loss for words to adequately express them.
So thank you to those who serve, and I'm so very sorry for those who lost loved ones in this terrible incident. We will always remember.

I have to apologize for my sporadic presence and it is perhaps time to share some of the issues that have led to that. The past year, and probably longer (because it's very difficult to pin down exactly when you start feeling off, isn't it?), I have been dealing with some health issues. At first we thought it was just a recurrence of the depression and seasonal disorder I frequently combat. When the changing of the seasons didn't help, we tried a little harder to figure it out. It seemed like it might be some form of early Alzheimer's or other such neurological issue as the symptoms included increasing forgetfulness and confusion. (It is not, thank goodness). Finally we have everything all ironed out and the situation is slowly returning to normal as treatments are being effective. It is my hope that this means that I can return to writing full time and blogging. I've truly missed this world and look forward to immersing myself in it again.

To celebrate that, I'm conducting a sale on several of my titles at Amazon this month. The following stories are available for 99 cents at Amazon until the end of September.




Mischa needs a job. Donovan needs a housekeeper. How hard can it be? 

Every meal should be served with a side of danger...

Will a chance reunion with an old flame spark a new romance?

Can a tawdry office romance lead to more?

Two men from opposing worlds. Their paths shouldn't have crossed, but now that they have...

These are all m/m contemporary romances, some of my oldest, bestselling titles. Please enjoy, and thank you for your support and patience while we sorted this out. I look forward to seeing you all much more frequently in the coming months.


9/03/2016

Labor Day Read Bargains at All Romance #mmromance #free #limitedtime #sale #gay

Greetings friends!

Just a note to say I've missed you, and I hope you're enjoying your long weekend. In celebration, I've set up a short sale at All Romance. Please enjoy!



Get Great M/M Romances for only 99¢


Like A Wolf 

Every good meal should be served with an edge of danger…

At least, that’s Hank Wolf’s philosophy of food. Step through the doors of Hungry and you’re putting yourself in his hands. In the kitchen, Hank is in control of everything, and the result is a mouthwatering dining experience that the whole town loves. Letting go of the tight control he has on every aspect of his life just isn’t in the recipe.


Curiosity leads Robbie to Hank’s so he can see for himself what all the fuss is about. and the attraction between the two chefs comes to a quick boil. But give these two restaurateurs the same ingredients and watch haute cuisine and home-style come head-to-head. 





Look for deep discounts on Cranberry Pi, Keeping House and The Park at Sunrise as well.



And while you're there, check out freebies such as


Short of funds, Gareth proposes to wager for love.
Does Gideon dare play out this hand?

Centurion, or The Aristocrat and His Servant, 

7/18/2016

No Post today #sorry #checkbacknextMonday

Hello Friends,

Just a quick line to let you know that due to circumstances beyond my control there is no post for today. I will pick up the next chapter of This Is Not About next week. Thank you for your understanding.

7/11/2016

Story Orgy Presents: This Is Not About Part part 4 #mmromance #blogstory #storyorgy




Good morning friends and readers! *sips coffee* Want a weather update? Sure. It's hot. Really hot. And muggy. I won't go into details, but sweat is an issue. LOL. It's Monday today, which means that Story Orgy is back and making it's appearance. Today I have part four of my contemporary romance This Is Not About.

Today's prompt is brought to us courtesy of the fine machinations of the fabulous Em Woods, author of some of my favorite m/m romances and fellow Orgiast.


JULY 11: It Wasn’t His Mother’s Cooking
This Is Not About
Part Four


The scent was amazing, that much was true, but it wasn’t his mother’s cooking. It wasn’t anyone’s mother’s cooking. Dubiously, Drake eyed the multi-colored blobs on his plate, then raised his eyes to meet Mick’s blushing gaze. “What is this?” The blush was pretty… if unusual. Mick was an urbane, sophisticated morning talk show host, after all. He should be beyond blushing.

“It’s a new thing. All the foodies are raving about it.” Fiddling with his spoon, Mick had the grace to look away.

“You’re taste testing or something for a segment aren’t you?” Drake concluded. The contrast in their current atmosphere and the neighborhood bar they’d met at the week before couldn’t be stronger. This place just screamed trendy date night and was chock full of hipster wannabes like the tall guy who’d been at the bar with Sean. Only these hipsters didn’t set Drake’s teeth on edge, and nor did he find himself stifling misery at the reminder of Sean with another man. Maybe he was finally getting over his lost love.  

“No… not really… well… maybe. But I really did want to try it.” Mick dragged his spoon through an orange blob, and a citrussy, curry sort of smell wafted up. His lower lip stuck out in a sort of pout, as though he were disappointed in Drake’s reaction.

“It looks like garishly colored baby food.” Drake returned his attention to the blobs on his own appetizer plate, but he was uncomfortably aware of Mick across the table. His friend was dressed with a sophisticated, timeless flair that Drake never could have pulled off. The soft blue pullover matched his eyes, clung to his muscular frame, emphasizing broad shoulders and toned arms. If Drake had attempted to wear such a thing he’d have looked like a fat nerd unsuccessfully aping the styles of a previous generation… or worse yet, like a down on his luck cartoonist who shopped at the goodwill.

On Mick the look was retro-cool and sexy in a very disturbing way. He snuck another glance at Mick under his lashes. And so was that pout… the full lower lip protruded in a  tempting way, and Drake had to scoot his chair back and put some distance between them. He was tempted to do something stupid…

“It smells good.” Mick interrupted that dangerous line of thought and Drake nodded, picking up his own spoon.

“So baby food is the new thing for trend followers, huh?”

“Foodies.”

“Huh?” Drake glanced up at the unfamiliar term. Thankfully, Mick was still looking at his plate, and he’d stopped pouting, which was really good because that kiss would probably be happening if he hadn’t, and it would really suck to ruin the best friendship he’d ever had by making sexual overtures and turning everything awkward.

“The food people aren’t like the fashion people. They call themselves foodies, not trendy.” Mick glanced up and their eyes locked, and it was Drake’s turn to blush as he couldn't shake the feeling that Mick knew what he’d been thinking, about the kiss and their friendship.

“Foodies? But they’re the same. The follow food trends like they follow clothing trends. Why do they need a special name?” It was a ridiculous question, and they both knew it, but Drake couldn’t think of anything else to say, which was kind of a first. He’d never before felt the urge to fill a silence between them. Normally he and Mick could talk about anything and nothing, or sit in silence without talking at all and still be comfortable.

“Uh… Well… just to distinguish themselves from people who like Chipotle and Applebee's, I guess.”

“What’s wrong with Chipotle and-”

“Nothing. Aren’t you going to try it at least before you diss it?”

He was so hung up on the word foodie that he couldn't think for a minute why someone who supposedly knew him as well as Mick did would think he wanted to start switching burgers and beers for trendy food and call himself a foodie, when he realized that Mick was raising a spoonful of orange pulp to his mouth with a determined expression.

Drake found himself entranced, watching as the silver spoon with it’s vibrant orange blob approached then passed over the succulent glistening lower lip. He couldn’t tear his eyes away as Mick lips pursed around the spoon and closed.

His breath caught as Mick pulled, and the spoon popped, empty from his mouth.

“Uh.” He grunted. A deep ache tightened his solar plexus and he yanked his gaze away, scooping up a greenish blob off his own plate for a distraction. He shoved it in his mouth, and pretended that everything was fine. It tasted like ashes, and stuck to every part of his mouth, like a big spoonful of ash flavored peanut butter. His fingers itched to draw the  image, a leering, tongue stuck letch with big eyes popping out of his head sitting across an intimate table from handsome, oblivious man.

“Okay.” Mick’s chair scraped on the floor as he scooted it backwards. “Let’s go.”

Drake swallowed the green ashes he’d shoved in his mouth and let his spoon fall to the table. “Go?” His voice was thick and awkward in his own ears, barely audible over the sudden hammering of his heart.

“Yeah… Baby food smells great, but the texture…” Mick swiveled his head around, seeking their waiter.

“The texture-” Drake echoed, unable to resist letting his gaze wander over his friend’s figure- the tight pants he’d paired with the pull over were just as retro, and just as… captivating. Though honestly, it was the man in the pants, the lines of thigh and abs, the whole picture that appealed rather than just the fabric that clung.

“I want fried chicken and crisp cole slaw.” Mick nodded firmly, snapped his fingers at a waiter. While the waiter scurried toward them, Mick took out his wallet and dropped a hundred dollar bill on the table.

“Is there something I can help you with, sir?” The obsequious voice stirred Drake from his seat.

“No. Thank you. Cancel our order, please. We’ve been called away.”

“Called away?” Drake muttered aside as he strode beside Mick out of the restaurant, a converted storefront in a strip mall. “Fried chicken was calling you?”

“Hah. I thought it was a better excuse than this food sucks. I need texture.” Mick clicked his car fobbed and a vehicle parked half way down the street purred to life, lights flicking on. “ When I’m old and toothless you can feed me mashed up pulpy stuff.” He shuddered. “What were they thinking? Why is this a thing?”

“Isn't that my line?” Drake protested, automatically swinging around to walk with Mick to his car, even though his own jeep was in the opposite direction, around the corner.

“Why should you get all the good lines?”

Mick opened the passenger side door for him, and Drake slid into the opening, pausing with one knee on the seat. “Because I’m the snarky artist in this pairing and you're the sophisticated trendsetter?”

“Artists are frequently trendsetters,” Mick pointed out as he crossed between his Audi and a Lexus parked in front of it. “I, however, am simply a trend spotter. And that is made even easier by the fact that everyone who thinks they’ve “got something” new sends an email to the station and the flunkies weed through them.”

Drake eyed his friend’s clothes, then his own Levi's and sweater, forcing himself to sneer playfully while his gut roiled. “You look like a trendy kind of guy.”

“Because I have a fabulous person called a wardrobe consultant, who according to my contract with the studio, gets to buy and coordinate all my clothes unless I am at home in the privacy of my own house. Just in case, you know, someone sees me.” Mick’s door opened, and he met Drake’s stare over the top of the car. “Get in. We can hit up a Popeye’s drive thru I know of, and go back to my place, where I can be the real me.”

Drake obeyed, silenced by the implication that he hadn’t really been hanging out with the real Mick.





7/06/2016

Reading Round Up, Heat Wave, Back to Work #caffeinateme #writestuff



Good morning friends and readers! *sips coffee* We had a few days of heat relief, but the temperatures are soaring again. Expect it will be unbearably hot again before we know it.

The fourth was fantastic though. It was cool, a little cloudy, but not so much so that the fireworks were ruined. We set ours off over the pond and a good time was had by all.

It was  a BBQ day, so that made cooking easy, which left me with time to do some reading. I picked up The Fault in Our Stars, which had been highly recommended and received rave reviews.

I'm just going to come right out and say it.

I was underwhelmed.

It was okay, but not my idea of phenomenal. Does that ever happen to you? You pick up a book that you've heard great things about, and it's just such a let down?

On the other hand, I also read a quick little fairy tale by Neil Gaiman called The Sleeper and the Spindle. Now that was quite good, and with awesome artwork as well. Next in the TBR is Lab Girl. Amazon kept recommending it, so I finally caved and bought it. Will see if it's any good.


ETA Meanwhile internet here is iffy due to inclement weather - please keep your fingers crossed for no flooding- so I'm going to rush this little post out there and get to work.

Y'all have a great day!

7/04/2016

Happy 4th of July

Greetings everyone! *sips coffee* This is not a work day, and so there is no Story Orgy blog post. We have a very busy day planned, and so this is just a quick post to wish all my friends a Happy Independence Day. We're going to be BBQ'ing, and celebrating with family and friends, and we hope you all are doing the same :)


Have a great day! 


6/29/2016

Flamingos, Weird, Cooling Off #caffeinateme #writestuff



*sips coffee* Good morning all. I know. It's not morning anymore, but seriously, I started this hours ago and its my first genuinely scheduled "task" of the day. It says right there on my calendar, #1. Write blog post. Just things kept getting in the way. Like for instance... I got the post all set up and blogger wouldn't let me type in the box. Weird, right? Had to refresh. Then all the stuff already in the box vanished, and boom. That required more coffee. 



This past week I saw an Amazon Prime tv uh... I forgot the word for it. Not premiere, or preview, though both of those words sort of fit. Anyway, Amazon does this thing where you vote on new shows. They actually have some good shows that have begun this way- Transparent for one. 

Anyway, this show was called The Interestings. The episode was intriguing, and frustrating. So I bought the book it was based on. The book was intriguing and frustrating. It was not chronological, and it skipped POV's and well, the characters were anything BUT interesting and nothing really happened in the book. Nevertheless, it was hard to put down. I"m not sure I can actually recommend it or not though. 

Meanwhile, the weather has calmed. It's due to remain in the 80's for a bit now, and that's good for my garden and for me. Rain has actually been scarce. Perhaps this is why. 




Flamingos. Instead of rain this year we're getting birds lol

Okay- that's me done for the day. I need to get back to work on my stories. :) 
Y'all have a good one. 








6/28/2016

Foreigner, Cool Down, Guests #writestuff #caffeinateme



Good afternoon. *sips coffee* Y'all would not believe the drama. Lemme tell you. We have out of town family staying with a nearby relative, and whoo. The running around and doing and cooking... These folks need to go home.


Add to that, somehow this morning I got locked out of my blog account. Yep. Been trying to log in for the last three hours and all I got was limbo. *Sigh* That, as you can see, has passed.




Anyway-  not a lot of time as I must dash off to rejoin the relatives, but this gave me quite a chuckle...


6/25/2016

Voices in Your Head? Binging, Bread Bags #writestuff #caffeinateme #amwriting


 Good Morning. *sips coffee* Coffee is the secret to adulting in our house too.  Coffee is the best part of adulting. So the heat wave is predicted to break and temperatures drop back into the 80's next week. I'm hoping that I survive that long without melting. My tomatoes are thriving, but the zucchini is looking a little wilted.

*fingers crossed*

I've been huddling inside in the air conditioning trying not to go out any more than I have too.

Which is leaving me with plenty of time to indulge in one of my favorite summertime activities, binge watching television shows. Right now, I'm up to about season 4 of the new Dr. Who. I powered through Grimm, and am awaiting season 6 with impatience. Up next I have season 3 of Marvel Agents of Shield, and I am taking recommendations for after that.

If you're a binge watcher, I highly recommend Justified and Suits, both of which are available via Amazon Prime television. I find myself on Amazon Prime as Netflix seems a bit more flaky in terms of streaming lately.

BUT... I'm also writing. Not as fast as I'd like, but at least the story is there. That's way better than last month. Still working on Parkerburg 4 with Havan Fellows. I'm not telling who the mc's are going to be, but its a fun story so far.




Then I saw this. This is about as much truth as the internet holds...
I'm a 1. Someone in my household is a 3. I know, because every time I pick up the loaf of bread, half the bread falls out and lands in the dog's water bowl.

Anyway, that gave me a chuckle, so I though I'd pass it on.





_________________________________________________________________________

Because You're You 

Can a good cop find love with a bad boy?

Devyn Strake's piercings and tats are sexy as hell, but what Sully finds really appealing, is the young father's tender care of his son.


6/22/2016

A+, Dilemma, Triberr #writestuff #caffeinateme



Good morning friends! Happy Humpday! *sips coffee* High today is predicted to be 100. That's right. It's going to be an A+ scorcher of a day. Fortunately, I have no errands to run and no cause to be outside.

This leaves me plenty of time to stare at the computer screen and contemplate a couple of dilemmas that arose yesterday. I'm only going to tell you about one though. The other one is trivial, and if I contemplate it too long I'll probably figure out that mostly its bothering me because of my ego, lol.

Anyway, here goes. So, I belong to a few Triberr tribes, writers and book bloggers, mostly erotic and romance. The purpose of Triberr is to support one another by sharing posts that may be of interest to your readers via Twitter and/or Facebook. I'm usually the sort who just goes down the stream and clicks all the green buttons to share it all, because I know what a voracious appetite readers have for the written word.

But yesterday I had to pause.

One blogger's post raised a dilemma for me. It wasn't that the post had explicit content, or that I disapproved of it at all. It was just that it was a post for a children's book.  It felt sort of wrong for me to be out there promoting a children's book as an author of erotic romance.

So I skipped that post, and it's still sitting there in  my stream. I know it will be there again tomorrow morning, and the next, until or unless I finally clear it away. I want to share it, because the particular blogger is very good about sharing all my posts, but ...

What do you think?

Would you find it creepy or jarring to find a post in my news feed about a children's book?


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Through the gates of the sun lies the land of dreams, and beyond that...the realm of the lost.

The longer coma patient Joseph Caldwell sleeps,  the more anesthesiologist Oliver Gideon is haunted by the loneliness of the figure in the bed. 



6/21/2016

Surprise, Advice, Storm #writestuff #caffeinateme


Good morning friends! *sips coffee* This is one of those days, where even though I wake up on time, I feel like I'm going to be playing catch up and chasing my own tail all day. The cat thought 4 am was a good time for breakfast. After an hour of playing dead, I decided she was not going to give up, so I got up and fed her. I've been drinking coffee ever since trying to wake up for real.

Want to hear a secret? Something you don't know about me? Yesterday I was cleaning off my desk because I couldn't see surface of course, when my glance fell on a framed document. It made me smile, which is exactly why I framed it back in October of 2010. I'm not the sentimental sort about things as a rule. I throw most things away- birthday cards, christmas cards, etc. I collect memories, not debris. But this...

Back when I first got my first check (because I hadn't set up direct deposit yet) from Amazon, I photocopied  it and framed it.It's only for $12, but hey, that $12 enabled me to take the SO out for coffee and pie.  The photo sits on my desk to remind  me I'm a writer, I make money doing this thing that I love, and that life is a wonderful thing. Even when the words don't come out right, and the pages stay white for days on end- I have that memory to help me continue to persevere, to keep at it.

Which is where I'm heading off to now. Back to work on Parkerburg #4. I'll leave you with this... a little advice for the day.




Also this...

Need a Superhero? Try A Man of Unusual Talent an M/M Superhero Romance

Collin Crane is a man of unusual talent. Really unusual. Too weird for the Guinness Book unusual. On the fifty-year plan to a doctoral degree in physics, and a quiet quest to understand his own oddities, Collin clings to obscurity. This superhero has learned the hard way that it's better to be safe than sorry.

If I could give this more than 5 stars I would. This was such a fun story. Awesome way to use marshmellos. LOL I loved it so much. A fun read when you need a laugh or life gets too serious.
I highly recommend this book
Available at AMAZON ALL ROMANCE SMASHWORDS

6/20/2016

Story Orgy Presents: This Is Not About Part 3 #mmromance #storyorgy #prompt

Good morning friends! I have finally been inspired enough to pick up my old prompting habit again. This little snippet continues a story I began back in January. It only had two parts at that time, so this is part three. To catch you up, Drake has been pining after a break up, but his long time best friend Mick is sick of the moping. He thinks it's time for Drake to look around him and realize that love has been beside him all this time.


This Is Not About
Part 3
“Every morning…”

“Hey.”
“Hey yourself.” Drake didn’t bother to put down his book. In all honesty, he was still a little pissed at Mick for leaving him at the restaurant the week before.
“Do you mind if I join you?” Mick yanked the chair opposite Drake, dislodging Drake’s foot from the lower chair rung.
Drake dropped The Sandman Overture to the table, narrowly missing his coffeecup. He glared at his friend. “Doesn’t look like I can stop you, does it?”
Mick’s green eyes narrowed and his lips tightened. “Don’t act like a spoiled brat.”
That it of anger over being embarrassed last Friday spiked. “Fuck you.”
“You wish,” Mick retorted smoothly.
“You should be so lucky.” Drake shot back. They glared at each other for a long minute before Mick’s lips twitched. The microexpression was all it took to alter the direction of Drake’s emotion. He burst into laughter as the twitch became a grin and then a chuckle.
“Sorry.” Drake finally got control of his laughter. His stomach ached pleasantly from the laughter,and his mood was incredibly lighter. “You were right, and I didn’t want to admit it.”
“It’s fine.” Mick picked up a napkin and shook it out over his lap then flagged down the waitress. “So, you want to go out this Friday?”
It was like swallowing vodka when you thought you were drinking from a water bottle. His mind instantly went in the wrong direction. Mick was hot. So sexy.. lean, pretty, and so off limits. It took less than three seconds. Not long enough for Mick’s expression to change, not long enough for the waitress to get to the table, but long enough for Drake to picture his friend naked, get turned on and feel like a complete jerk. Then the other shoe dropped and he realized that Mick was NOT asking him on a date, but asking him if he wanted to go somewhere and hang out, like they did most Fridays. “Yeah, I’m u-” Aware of his stirring senses, he abandoned the word up and finished with “in. Maybe someplace with music.”
“Leave it to me.” Mick beamed,turning a brilliant smile on the waitress who’d finally arrived at their table. “Coffee,black please.”
“One black coffee. Can I bring you a muffin, or a plate of eggs and bacon?” The cute waitress was blatantly ogling Mick, and Drake felt embarrassed for the poor girl. He wanted to shoo her away from the table or tell her just how gay Mick was, but he couldn’t.
Mick however, it seemed was used to being stared at, and he just smiled kindly and shook his head. “Just coffee, sweetie, thanks.”
She blushed and scurried away, giggling.
Drake watched her go, turned back to Mick, who had grabbed a pen from his pocket and was writing on a napkin.
“Happens all the time.” Mick said, not looking up.
“Girls young enough to be your daughter hit on you all the time?” Drake derided. “I can imagine.”
“No.” Mick threw down the pen and pushed the napkin to the edge of the table. “People recognize me from the show all the time.”
“Oh yeah. She was eying you like a side of beef.”
“She was not.” Mick’s cheeks pinkened, and h ducked his head. “I’m gay. All of Morrisonville knows it. And she’s not young enough to be my daughter. I’m only thirty-five and my daughter is twelve.”
Drake spewed the coffee he’d just sipped. It sprayed over his plate and splattered the table. “Daughter?”

***
“Yeah. Did I forget to mention that little detail?” Mick watched Drake nearly swallow his tongue while he attempted to gather his wits. He tossed a napkin in Drake’s direction and waited while Drake mopped at the liquid he’d sprayed all over.
Finally, Drake spoke. “I have known you all our lives. In kindergarten you had a Barbie lunchbox.”
“You punched me in the nose because of that lunch box.” Mick reminded him.
“Because my dad wouldn’t let me have one. My sister Ava had one with sparkles, and sparkles were too cool.”
“My daughter went to school the first day of kindergarten with a hot wheels lunch box.”
“That’s great. But my point was, I know you. You’ve been gay since forever and everyone knew it. You do not have a daughter.”
“But I do. Want to see a picture?” He reached for his phone, where the latest pictures of Mika were stored in a separate file. “Her mother just sent these.” Without waiting for Drake’s answer, he swiped the phone on and set about finding the photos.
“Who?”
“Mika, my daughter.” Mick jerked as the phone was snatche dout of his hand. He glanced up to find Drake glowering at him. It was amusing, and yet… a little shiver went down his spine. Drake mad was seriously hot.
“Who is her mother? You’ve never dated a woman. I doubt you’ve ever even touched one, let alone impregnated one.”
“Her mother is a very nice lesbian named Gina who wanted to have a child. She lived-”
“I remember Gina. redhead, no boobs. Lived across the hall from you in that dive you used to rent.” Drake sneered, but his anger had faded, his expression confused.
Mick decided to end the joke. “I donated sperm, dumbass. She wanted someone to father a child, not a lover or a husband.”
“She sends you pictures. I suppose you split holidays like a divorced couple?”
“No,” Mick picked up the napkin and began shredding it. The talk about his daughter was all his fault, he knew that. He just had to blurt out the one big secret that he’d managed to keep from Drake all these years. Well, the second biggest secret. “I’ve never actually met her. It wasn’t a relationship. I was… down. Thought I’d never find anyone of my own, never have a chance to have kids otherwise. And we agreed, Gina and I, that she’d tell Mika who I was when she was old enough to ask.”
Drake bit his lip, eyes darkening. “She hasn’t asked?”
“She’s twelve. Barely old enough to realize that a woman can’t have a baby by herself. I’m okay with it. I didn’t bring this up to-” Every morning he woke up, wondering if today was the day he’d get the call, if today was the day he’d get to be called Dad.
“Hah! Have you seen-”
Mick held up a hand. “I have seen way more than I want to. But Mika and Gina live in the country, and she’s very sensible. Plays softball and the violin. No way is our daughter going to turn into Miley Cyrus. Speaking of… guess who not so politely canceled her appearance on Morning in America?” He deliberately changed the subject.
“There is no way you booked Miley Cyrus. Morning in America is just not…”
“Uh uh uh. We’re grabbing a bigger share of the audience all the time.”
“It’s regional.”
“It’s the age of cable, made for Netflix, and Amazon. Television as we knew it is dead my friend.” Mick drained his coffee and stood. “Besides, I hear they have a really hot, gay host.”
“I can’t believe you had a daughter and kept it from me all this time.” Drake was thumbing through the pictures he’d finally found on the phone.   There weren’t a lot, because Mick saved the rest on a thumbdrive at home, but enough. A smiling dark eyed infant, a charming five year old with one front tooth missing, hugging that Hot Wheels lunch box, and one of Mika with her violin, a mutinous frown on her piquant face.
Already he regretted the impulse to prove to his friend that Drake didn’t know everything about him. This awkward sense of exposure served him right for trying to prove there was still enough mystery between them to make a relationship interesting. “It wasn’t really my story to tell. I shouldn’t have said anything.”
“I’d like to meet her someday.” Drake looked like the comment had surprised him as much as it had surprised Mick.
“Yeah, me too. Meanwhile, I’ll pick you up tonight, eight o’clock ok?”

Drake was chewing his lip again, a gesture that spoke to his confusion. Mick liked it. He liked that Drake was confused by him, it reassured him that he wasn’t alone in his current state. “Ok.” Drake agreed, though he sounded fairly hesitant.




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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