Friday, December 30, 2016

Free Fic: The Place To Be

Dustin yawned.

"Getting tired already?" Jason asked. He tipped his flute up and drained down the champagne within.

"No," Dustin protested. He stifled another yawn. "Maybe."

"You still have forty-five minutes to go." Jason waved the now empty flute around. "And I need another drink."

"If you're not careful, you'll be the one who falls asleep." Dustin shook his head. "I just need some fresh air."

"I'll come with you!" Jason draped one arm across Dustin's shoulder.

The champagne flute dangled from his fingers, a few drips of liquid fell from the edge and landed on Dustin's shirt. Jason pushed Dustin toward the door. With his free hand he snagged one of the bottles on a nearby table. Dustin peered at it. Not champagne, but a white wine.

"You don't have to--"

"I want to," Jason said.

He had to release Dustin so they could get through the door and when he did, Dustin realized how hot and sweaty Jason's arm had been. He usually didn't mind Jason. He was funny and charismatic. But he did tend to get annoying when he drank too much.

"Don't you like the party?" Jason asked.

"I do," Dustin said. "I like it. It's just that I had to work today. I got up early and I'm tired."

"Do you have to work tomorrow?" Jason asked.

"No. Not on New Year's Day." Dustin slid sideways, far away from Jason's sweaty hands. The cool air did rouse him, although not as much as needing his wits to keep Jason's grabby hands off him. "This did help. I feel better. Want to go back inside?"

"Not yet," Jason said. He leaned closer. "No one else is out here. It's a nice night." He pursed his lips and tilted his face.

Dustin ducked out and away. "Whoa, there. I appreciate the gesture, but I'm not kissing you."

"Why not?" Jason demanded.

"Because I have a boyfriend. Cam. Remember?"

"Pfft." Jason waved his hand, still holding the empty flute. "He isn't here. He's never here."

"He's working," Dustin said. "In the emergency room. Helping people." Cam did work a lot. But that really was the job. It was a job he loved and that he was good at. Dustin accepted it. In every other way, Cam was perfect. If the small sacrifice necessary was that he went too much time at work, assisting in helping sick people, injured people, then Dustin would get over it.

Dustin eyed Jason. Cam would never have gotten as annoying drunk as that, ever.

As if on cue, Dustin's phone buzzed. He pulled it out and tapped the screen open. [Happy early New Year's! See you at home after midnight! Miss you. Love you.] Dustin felt a fondness wash all through him as he read the text message.

Jason shook his head. "Was that him? You got a dopey expression on your face."

"Yeah, that was him."

Jason rolled his eyes. "Oh, forget you then. You're actually in loooove." Jason stumbled back through the door and into the throng of the party inside.

Dustin tapped back a message. [See you soon. Can't wait to spend another year with you.] He hit the send button and then considered his options. The party was in full swing, growing louder and better by the moment. But he didn't really want to stay. He wanted to be home, waiting, for when Cam returned.

That sounded like the best way he could think of to welcome the new year. Turning on his heel, he headed home.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Free Fic: Christmas Bests

"What do you like best about Christmas?" Jack asked. He stood in the doorway, looking away from the kitchen and into the living room.

"Is this a trick question?" Eric asked. He lifted his head up from the paperwork at the kitchen table and looked at Jack. Something wasn't quite right. Jack stood very rigidly.

Eric suspected something was not right in the living room. Between the four cats, three children, and two dogs, there was a whole lot of not-right that could happen in the living room. Eric hoped it wasn't the tree. They'd gone the extra distance and gotten a real fir tree this year instead of putting up the old standby fake one.

"No. I mean it. What do you like best about Christmas?" Jack turned his back to the living room and a tight, toothless smile stretched across his face.

"Okay." Eric put his pen down. "The food. And no guilt until after New Years. All the cookies. The pies. Gingerbread. Peppermint everything. Peppermint mocha coffee. Peppermint hot chocolate. Peppermint marshmallows. Chocolate everywhere. I can't leave my desk for five minutes without coming back to find someone has left a candy cane or a nougat or golden coins for me to find." He gathered the papers into a pile. "What is it you like best about Christmas?"

"I like a lot of things. The music. The gifts. The effort people make to catch up with friends and family they don't usually see through the year. But what I like best. What is the absolute best thing about Christmas?" Jack walked away from the entrance to the living room and spent a moment to assist Eric in cleaning up the small pile of papers and pens. Once the small mess was tidied up and stowed in the correct drawer, he gave Eric a hug and kissed him on the cheek. "Being able to close your eyes." He put one hand gently over Eric's eyes and tugged him forward using the other, guiding him safely forward. "And walk straight past the living room to the bedroom."

"Deal with it tomorrow?" Eric asked.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Christmas movie time

I've been watching a lot of Christmas movies -- some good, some not so good. Any recommendations for good new-ish ones?

I love the standbys, of course, but would like to find some other good ones to add to my list of comfort Christmas movies.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Free Fic: The Perfect Gift

Dylan was growing concerned.

Christmas was only two days away and he didn’t have a gift for Ashlar yet. Well, he had a few small things, like Ashlar’s favorite candy bar and a pair of warm, wool socks. But he didn’t have the Big Gift.

Dylan hadn’t yet figured out what would be Ashlar’s main, perfect present.

He’d scoured the mall. He’d internet surfed until his wrists hurt. He’d poured over the ten thousand catalogs that companies sent him mom during the holiday season.

The problem was that Ashlar didn’t need much. He was a minimalist. He gave away last year’s coat if someone bought him a new one. He donated his old clothes and shoes. When he upgraded his mountain bike, he sold the old one.

Ashlar had six towel sets in rotation at his house, which he called a bit excessive, but necessary. When Dylan had bought him another two sets for his birthday Ashlar had given away two of the older sets. He still had six in rotation. The older towels hadn’t even become rags.

Dylan loved that Ashlar wasn’t about material possessions. He liked that their time together was focused on doing things, having experiences, listening to each other, connecting on a deeper level. He just wished Ashlar could be a tiny bit materialistic so Dylan could buy him a nice gift.

Dylan shoved his hands into his pockets and walked out of the hardware store. He’d roamed the isles, hoping something would catch his eye. He’d almost chosen some gardening tools. Surely Ashlar would like packets of seeds. They could start a little garden in the spring. But when he’d thought where Ashlar would store the tools, Dylan knew it would be yet more items that got donated.

Ashlar liked to hike, bike, snowshoe, and ramble. He didn’t really like timetables and tending to growing things that would want water every day.

Dylan sighed and headed down the sidewalk. He glanced at the storefronts as he passed them. Stationary store. No. Picture and frame store. No. Children’s clothing store. Definitely not. Bookstore.

Dylan stopped. That could be a maybe. He could buy a book, write a nice inscription, and-- Ashlar would read it and give it away. Maybe not so good.

Dylan squinted. There was a new specialty store on the corner. A liquor store. Alcohol was temporary. He trotted down the sidewalk and ducked inside.

“Hey, man,” said the guy behind the counter. “Let me know if you need any help.” He paused. “And our special today is the Hootenanny Growler.”

“Growler?” Dylan asked. He looked around. This shop had a lot of beer, not a lot of hard liquor.

“Yeah.” The man motioned to an earthen-looking jug with an old-fashioned wire top. It looked like something his mom used to can pickles. “It’s refillable. Thirty-two ounces. We usually have between three and five different on-tap beers or hard ciders available. Good stuff. Sometimes you can’t even get these in bottles. They’re special deals from the breweries.”

Dylan perked up. Special? Rare? Limited? This was the sort of thing that would go over very well with Ashlar. “What’s the Hootenanny?” he asked.

“Pogonip Tippler Brewery makes it. Double IPA. Lots of hops.”

“Will it last until Christmas?”

“Sure,” the guy said. “But it’d be better on Christmas Eve. Don’t open it until you’re ready to drink it, and then drink it quickly. You’ve got a day or two before it goes flat.”

“So, it’s not something to keep hanging around the house.”

The guy laughed. “No. But save the container. Bring it back and fill it up. Next time you only have to pay for the beer, not the growler itself.”

Dylan reached for his wallet. This would be perfect for Ashlar. One container, many beers. “I’ll take one.”

Monday, December 12, 2016

Love Wins, today

The charity anthology Love Wins is now available, starting today!

Here's the link:

And the beautiful cover:

I hope you'll give it a look and consider purchasing it. You'll have some wonderful stories to read and help to give to a community that needs the support.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Free Fic: Doozy of a Daydream

Randall tried not to stare, but it was difficult.

The other man waiting alongside him at the bus stop was strikingly handsome. He had a chiseled chin that could have launched a thousand headline news shows. His eyes sparkled with a blue that was found only on rare, expensive china patterns. He was dressed like he was about to pose for a clothing catalogue, in crisp jeans and a bulky grey sweater over a button-up collared shirt.

Randall glanced again and immediately looked away, down the street, as if he were checking for the bus.

This guy didn't seem like the usual sort to ride the bus. He wasn't carrying any bags. He had his cell phone out, but he was idly checking something, not intently trying to manage a problem. Every once in a while, he'd look up, checking for the bus, and then go right back to whiling away the minutes.

Randall wiped his hands on his thighs. He'd been working out at the gym and even though he'd showered, he was still flush from exercise. Standing so close to the handsome stranger did nothing to cool him down.

He wanted to say something to the man, to generate some initial contact. But what could he say? If he could catch the man's eye, perhaps he could smile.

They could chat about the weather, and then laugh about the bus being late. Perhaps the man was new to town and unfamiliar with the bus system. Randall could offer him insight and advice. They'd start talking, the bus would arrive, and they'd get on together.

They'd drift away from the topic of the bus to exploring the city, and restaurants, things to do, sports, bookstores, the best coffee shop, the little market that sold excellent cheese at reduced prices. They'd exchange names and shake hands. Randall would laugh when he realized they both got off at the same stop.

The man would invite him over for coffee. He'd dig out something from his cupboard for dinner, or maybe they'd order pizza. Talking together would be so easy.

Randall would go home eventually, but it would be quite late, and with promises on both sides to meet up again the next day. They'd have dinner together, spend the next few weeks learning everything there was to know about each other, and having sex all the time. Randall would be exhausted from the sex.

Their love would only grow stronger. They'd move in together. When the lease ran out, they'd buy a house together. In time, they'd realize they should be married. Randall would ask the man--no, it'd be better if the man organized some sort of romantic surprise getaway trip. Yes. They'd go away on a mini-vacation and decide to get married.

It would be an elopement of the most egregious sort. Randall's mother would be a little angry, but she'd cry and be happy. They'd have some sort of a house party and invite everyone they knew and loved. There would be rivers of champagne and mounds of snacks and an enormous chiffon cake. Vanilla chiffon with chocolate fudge frosting.

They'd adopt a child. Maybe two or three children. Randall would rescue a kitten. The man would bring home a dog he found in the supermarket parking lot. They'd try to find the dog's family, but the dog would remain with them. The dog would guard their house at night and romp with the children during the day.

There would be piano recitals, student teacher conferences, and varsity baseball games. Vacations to the mountains to learn to ski, and trips to the beach where they would snorkel. Probably someone might get stung by a jellyfish and there'd be an emergency trip to the hospital, but everyone would be safe. They'd all go home full of memories.

The budget would be tight when the children were in college, but they'd manage somehow. Retirement might get pushed back, but they'd have stayed active and healthy. Maybe the man might have slightly high cholesterol, so Randall would learn how to cook with olive oil instead of butter, and they'd eat salads three nights a week.

After the kids graduated and left the house, the man and Randall would find there was time to explore their bodies together again. After years of raising children, they'd have a sexual reawakening. Randall would figure out how to tell a good wine from a bad one, and they'd drink gorgeous reds and call in sick to work so they could worship each other.

There would be grandkids and birthday parties. Maybe a summer house somewhere a bit warmer in the winter. Some volunteering opportunities as they got older. They'd help raise money for charities.

One night, when they were very, very old, they'd go to sleep together, and just never get up. They'd be buried together, and their souls would go to heaven.

Randall smiled.

The man looked up from his cell phone and raised an eyebrow. "You must have gotten some good news today," he said, "you look like the cat that got the cream."

The sound of the bus approaching brought Randall back to reality. "You might say that. It was a doozy of a daydream, that's for sure."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

4 days until Love Wins

Love Wins becomes available to read on December 12th! That is not very long to wait at all.

Here's the blurb for my story, Prevailing Zzz's :

After eight months together, Greg wants Win to move in with him. But how can Win agree when Greg's snoring leaves him sleep-deprived and miserable?

And the buy link:

I was looking over the authors and the blurbs for their stories. There is some serious talent involved, and some truly engaging story ideas. I'm looking forward to reading!