Friday, November 30, 2007
Of course, my luck being my luck, I got hit with the head cold from hell and didn't feel like being awake much less reading. I finally start reading and do a quick check at the library website to see when the book was due back. It was due back that day. No one told me book others have requested are only allowed out for a week. So I read all of a dozen pages if that.
And to be honest I wasn't that thrilled with what I'd read.
Is it me? Am I weird for wanting to whack Jules Cassidy upside the head and tell him to stop sounding so damn "girly". I'm sorry, but to me seasoned FBI agents do not call people "sweetie" or say "Eww". It irks me.
I already know from a review that there are no great mansexy parts to look forward to so I really don't know if I want to get hold of this book again.
Does anyone else out there find Jules to be a rather unflattering stereotypical gay man? I've known gay men who on the girly side of the spectrum but I think Jules' profession is what bugs me most about how he speaks and thinks.
I think he should be harder around the edges, more "cop like" if you will.
Tell me, how do you see the character? Is he realistic to you or annoying?
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Mark sat on the steps of the apartment building surrounded by his stuff. One suitcase of clothes propped up his back. The collection of Justice League Comics double bagged and boxed in the two long white cardboard cartons rested next to him. It was all he’d managed to salvage before Charles tossed him out on his butt.
What a way to begin Spring Cleaning. About ten minutes too late he realized Charles really was serious about getting rid of all the old junk. As usual, he’d just ignored the jibes as he headed out to work that morning. Hell, Charles had on his rattiest clothes and a giant sized roll of garbage bags. That tended to mean big time house work. Like always, he’d laughed off Charles’ suggestion that he dump his old junk and grow up. He figured it meant he’d have to high tail it home and pull a few things out of the bin, shove it under the bed for awhile and bring it back slowly. Charles always hit that mood around this time of year. Clean up, clear out, move on.
Mark just hadn’t figured that Charles had meant Mark as well this time.
“Hey, what’s up?”
Mark looked up from studying his hands in his lap and found a green eyed pair of eyes right in front of his own. “Shit!” He started back, knocking over the suitcase. Jake, their upstairs neighbor rocked back: slipping and almost falling off where he knelt on the step. Oh crap, Mark didn’t want to explain to Jake or anyone why he was sitting on the stoop with his junk. “Sorry you startled me.” He swallowed. “Not much. Just doing a little housecleaning. Out with the old, in with the new.” He smiled.
With green eyes and soft brown hair, Jake was a nice looking guy. He’d moved into their building right after Mark and Charles started living together. Mark had ogled the new tenant every trip up and down the stairs the day he’d moved in. It had been Mark who’d made the effort to introduce himself, Charles couldn’t be bothered. And it was Mark who’d pumped Jake for what he did, where he came from and all that getting to know you type of thing.
Charles made fun of Jake behind his back because he was an animator on a kids’ network. It wasn’t a serious job according to Charles. Still, they’d been good neighbors and invited Jake, plus one, to the Christmas thing, and the New Years thing. Jake never brought a date and never stayed long. But he was always around when Mark needed something. He’d never failed to help out with a lift somewhere or help hauling up another bookcase for his treasures, or needed a running buddy in the mornings… well before Mark’s shift had changed.
Jake looked like he was about to say something when the sound of a window opening caused them both to look up. Charles’ voice flew out of the window. “God I hate this piece of shit!” The sound was followed by a poster in a black wood frame. That would be the one with the vintage snapshot showing the atomic bomb blowing up behind the 1950’s Vegas Skyline. It sailed through the air to land in the street. Two bounces carried it right into the path of a station wagon. With a screech of brakes and a crunch, the poster earned a place in the dumpster.
Righting the luggage, Jake parked himself next to Mark. “Housecleaning, huh?”
“Yeah,” Mark nodded as his razor scooter followed the path of the ill fated poster. “Cleaning the house of everything that reminds him of me.” The scooter only made it as far as the side walk. Wasn’t quite as aerodynamic as the first missile.
Jake set a grocery bag at his feet. “You guys never seemed right for each other.” Fishing out a packet of chips, he popped them open and offered the first grab to Mark.
A handful of Salt and Vinegar potato chips would at least make thing bearable for the moment. “What do you mean?” Over their heads sailed a tin of DVDs a Puss & Boots bobble head, his Sin-City coffee mug and the wall clock that told time backwards. Too bad, that clock had been given to him by his physics advisor when Mark had landed his job at JPL. Varying degrees of crashes sounded at impact.
“Well, he’s just kinda uptight. Everything was just so… so, you know?”
One by one, paperbacks flew. He crammed the chips in his mouth and mumbled. “No. I don’t know.” At least the books would be salvageable.
“So designer.” The voice out of Jake’s mouth sounded like one of the cartoon characters he drew. Mark knew ‘cause he recorded all the shows on TiVo and watched them when Charles wasn’t around. He sure as hell didn’t want to listen to any snarky comments while he enjoyed laughing his ass off. Jake added in a woman’s over-earnest falsetto, “There is a motif… we will not deviate from the motif.”
Mark snorted down a laugh. “Okay.”
“It all coordinates.” While doing a tradeshow model presentation dance with his hands he teased more. “It is sold as a set so that it all matches.” Then Jake shoved a chip in his mouth. “Blech.”
“Yeah, he’s a little like that.”
“A little?” Jake almost choked. “That’s like saying Jerry Fallwell has some gender issues.” Finally able to breath again he managed another question. “I don’t know what the hell you saw in him. He couldn’t have that big of a dick. Come on, you two just didn’t seem to be right for each other.”
“True. He says I’m immature.” Mimicking Charles’ voice, Mark tried not to laugh. “I have a childish, pedestrian sense of humor. No grown man, no one with a job designing space-probes and satellites should collect Three Stooges memorabilia.”
“He’s an ass.” Jake shook his head. “I almost told you that the first time I met you… actually the first time I met him.”
“Why didn’t you?”
“Well, you were living with him.” He rolled his eyes. “Didn’t seem right to get in the middle of somebody’s life.”
Mark gave Jake a sideways glance. “And…” Jake was grinning.
He swallowed and shrugged. “Now you’re not.”
“And now I’m homeless.”
“Hey, I have a couch.” Jake stood and offered his hand. Almost embarrassed he added, “And a big bed.”
Staring up at the other man, Mark considered the offer. Charles had been comfortable, well used and, mostly, there. They hadn’t had much of a relationship for a long time, probably even since before Mark had moved in with him. “A bed for the night might be nice.” He took the proffered grip and let Jake pull him to standing. A china cat arced above their heads and impacted with an explosion of pottery shards. “I wonder if he realizes that was his. Never liked that piece of crap anyway.”
That set them both laughing as Mark hefted the boxes. The clothes were replaceable… vintage Bronze-Age comics not so much. A little lighter in mood than before, he bounded up the stairs.
“Here,” Jake stopped at the door and fished something out of his grocery bag, “you need this more than me.” He tossed a blister packed toy back toward Mark.
Almost fumbling boxes as the package landed on the top of the pile Mark asked. “What is it?”
“It’s a bunny that shits jelly beans.” Jake pushed the door open with his butt. “I guess that makes two of us with a juvenile sense of humor.”
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Publication Date: January 15, 2008
Cover art by Anne Cain
Love? Or duty? His choice will damn his country—or his heart.
A Serving Love story.
When Union soldier Emil Franks steps aboard Basile’s ship, his mission is to try to convince Basile to lend his vessel to the Union cause. But with one look at his former lover, he reveals far more—his lingering love for Basile.
Neither time nor the fires of war have dimmed their passion for each other, but not even the fact that Emil is now a vampire can sway Basile from his course. In two days’ time, he leaves for his native France.
I'm also jazzed about the release of On Wings of Blue this past week. The fairytale-themed story is short, but sweet, and one I hope readers enjoy. One thing is for sure--if you never imagined that butterflies could be slashed, guess AGAIN. :o)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Right now, we're watching the pre-parade stuff for Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. I'll be cooking later on; I'm craving green bean casserole. *chuckles*
Hope everyone has a happy, safe holiday!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Del Fantasma is Aspen Mountain’s paranormal romance series focused around the Del Fantasma bar in Point Loma, California and the bar owner, vampire Cody Warren. Cody is said to have a story behind every drink he serves and each story must be titled after a real bar drink that somehow relates to the story.
Undertow is an urban fantasy, something a little different for me. Derek Meredith's lover of ten years, Tad Archer, drowned in a boating accident before the story begins. Anonymous phone calls lead him to the Del Fantasma bar, where he runs into an old friend named Kellen who, in his own words, found something Derek has lost.
Kellen and Derek are both members of a mythical race of sea creatures known as merrows. They're a Celtic myth, similar to mermaids, though a bit more "rough" around the edges, so to speak. Each merrow has a talisman ~ some red object, a comb or a hat or a cape, that ties their blood to the ocean. With the talisman, they can move freely between the sea and the land, but they must protect it at all times because without the talisman, they cannot return to the water.
Also, female merrows have a sinister habit of harvesting souls of those lost at sea. These hapless victims are kept locked in wooden soul cages deep beneath the waves. A merrow maiden will guard her soul cage fervently. The only way a soul cage can be opened and its prisoner released is if a male merrow distracts the cage's owner.
Tweaking these myths, I created Undertow. Friends earlier in life, Kellen has loved Derek from childhood, but a wanderlust fills Derek's heart, leading him to seek life on the shore among humans. Tad was the reason he left the ocean behind, and Kellen has never managed to move beyond that rejection.
Back in Derek's life again, Kellen offers him an "indecent proposal" ~ a night of passion between the merrows for Tad's safe return. But complications arise, among them the fact that without his talisman, Derek is unable to return to the ocean. His talisman was given to Tad on their tenth anniversary as a symbol of his love; in exchange, Tad gave him a gold ring. The metal holds mystical properties for those with merrish blood, and Derek hopes that the power of love that resides in the band might be enough to help him rescue his lover ... without having to succumb to Kellen's sordid desires in the process.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Very interesting news yesterday that Amazon is now offering a new e-book viewer with wireless access, called the Kindle. This could potentially be very good news for e-book authors if the technology catches on. I don't think that millions of people will switch to e-books overnight, but the tide could be turning towards electronic reading becoming more popular and accepted.
Is anyone planning on getting one? They're not available in Canada, so I couldn't even if I wanted to. I'd also probably wait for the price to drop, since you know it inevitably will. My first DVD player cost $500 (on sale!) not that many years ago, and of course now you can get one for as low as $40.
I'll certainly be interested to see how popular the Kindle becomes.
Monday, November 19, 2007
An Excerpt from Amanda Young’s Pyromancer
© Amanda Young, 2007
Christian Ryder sat in the dark, slowly stroking his fist up and down the length of his swollen cock. His gaze was locked on the flickering television screen, where two men were in the final throws of orgasm. The brunette top -- his body heavily laden with muscle -- gripped his thick prick around the base and took aim, spraying cum all over the younger blond man’s upturned face. It was a hot scene, one that never failed to get him off.
As the ending movie credits began to roll across the screen, Christian exhaled a disgusted huff and released his semi-hard shaft. He reached for the remote control lying next to him on the bed and hit stop on the DVD player. Turning off the TV, he plunged his bedroom into darkness. His frustration mounted as the hollow sound of his pulse pounded in his ears.
It’d been over six months since he’d gotten laid. The last time he’d taken a chance and risked being with someone else, it hadn’t gone so well -- a fucking disaster, really. The end result testing his rigid self-control almost past the limits of his endurance.
The guy he’d picked up and brought home had taken offense at being asked to leave right after they’d screwed, and had thrown a temper tantrum. Not something he’d expected from a six-foot body builder who’d claimed he was only interested in a good time. By the time Christian forcibly removed the man from the property, his body temperature had been dangerously high and his head was spinning.
After that close call, he’d decided it was too dangerous to indulge in one night stands, which left him with little options other than his own left hand. Especially since he already had a self-imposed rule against developing anything long-term, or risking the emotional attachment that came with it.
Mixing emotions and sex fucked with even the most normal person’s head. For the people around him, it could mean much more than a broken heart -- it could be deadly.
Security lights from outside filtered through the mini-blinds covering his bedroom window in sporadic spurts of light, briefly illuminating his damp and sweaty body lying atop tangled, white, cotton sheets. He kicked at them, unraveling himself.
Irritated, Christian sat up. He leaned back against the cool brass headboard and flipped on the bedside lamp. His gaze flittered down to the big, red numbers on his alarm clock. Almost midnight.
Restless and exasperated, he picked yesterday’s newspaper up off the side table and spread it out over his lap. Since jerking off wasn’t going to work for him, maybe he could bore himself to death by reading the paper. It was worth a shot. Losing sleep made control over his curse temperamental.
Page by page, Christian skimmed over the paper until he reached the personal ads. Those babies were like the funny pages to him. Why someone would put an ad in the newspaper, hoping for a good outcome, was beyond his comprehension. Only the fugly and desperate sunk to that level.
He read over a few ads, laughing, until a small square down on the bottom, right-hand corner caught his eye. It was an advert for an escort agency. One that claimed to cater to men of his persuasion: gay men looking for nothing more than a hot body to warm their lonely beds. The agency, Male Companions, promised anonymity and, more importantly, clean bills of health for all their available staff. He never fucked anyone without a rubber, so it was a bit of a moot point, but the words comforted him somehow.
Before Christian realized his intent, the cordless phone was in his hand, his fingers tapping out the number. A feminized male voice answered, saying, “Thank you for calling Male Companions. Nigel speaking. How may I help you?”
Christian opened his mouth to speak and froze. What the hell was he doing? He didn’t want to pay for sex; doing so went against every moral he had. He clicked the off button, hanging up.
He exhaled, relieved he’d come to his senses before doing something he knew he would later regret. His gaze wandered over his bedroom, hovering on the 52-inch plasma tv, the only other thing in there besides his bed and nightstand. Not a single picture or piece of artwork marred the clean lines of the bare, white walls. Whereas the stark sterility of his room usually appeared simple and clean, it now felt barren and depressing, not unlike his personal life.
His hands shook as he picked up the phone and redialed the number.
* * * * *
Tanner O’Bannon sat slumped over his kitchen table, trying to balance his checkbook. Money was tight, his balance down to just above two bucks, but at least he wasn’t in the negative anymore. He couldn’t afford the outrageous overdraft fees the bank charged. The last two charges had forced him to eat Ramen noodles for a month. If he never saw another pasta dish in his life, it would be too soon.
Tanner’s eyes blurred as he ran through the figures once last time before flipping the checkbook closed. He folded his arms and laid his head on the cool surface of the mahogany table. He was exhausted, but needed to stay awake for just a little longer. On call for work until three a.m., he couldn’t afford to fall asleep or miss a single phone call. He needed the money too badly to risk losing his job, even if it was one he was ashamed of. Necessity overruled pride.
With heavy-lidded eyes, Tanner jerked his head up and shook it, trying to force himself to stay alert. He rose to his feet, walked over to the sink, and splashed icy water on his cheeks. As he mopped his face with a clean dishtowel, the phone rang. Only one person would be calling this late. Work.
He didn’t know whether to be happy or sad. On the one hand, it meant money; on the other, degradation. His father would be rolling over in his grave if he knew what his only son was doing to pay the debts he’d left behind.
Tanner crossed the room and picked up the phone. He listened for a moment then set it back in the cradle before jogging up the stairs. Upstairs, he hopped into the shower and quickly scrubbed himself from head to toe with citrus scented body-wash. He stepped out and yanked a dry towel off the rack, briskly rubbing it over his hair and skin while he fumbled through a drawer under the sink for lube and a butt plug.
He squeezed a dollop of lube into his hand and ran it over the plug, liberally coating its short length. He reached behind to swipe the remaining moisture through the crease of his ass. The toy in his right hand, he leaned over the toilet and braced his left on the back of the commode. He spread his legs shoulder width apart and took a deep breath, trying to relax his muscles as he pressed the blunt rubber tip against his asshole. Due at the motel in thirty minutes, there was no time for finesse. He exhaled and shoved it home, wincing at the sharp burn of his anal ring stretching around the plug.
The things you had to do to make a buck, Tanner thought, as he grabbed the washcloth he’d used in the shower and wiped off the excess lube around the wide base of the plug. He dropped it in the sink and headed into his bedroom to dress.
It was time to go to work.
* * * * *
Waiting inside the modest motel room he’d rented for the night, Christian glanced at his watch for the umpteenth time. Perched on the end of the bed, his sock-clad toes tapped an unsteady rhythm on the cheaply carpeted floor, his body practically vibrating from anxious anticipation.
He was nervously trying to figure out what would happen once the escort showed up. Payment for the guy’s services had already been rendered over the phone -- apparently even hookers took American Express these days -- so at least he didn’t have to worry about having that conversation. Things would be awkward enough as it was.
More pertinent was how things would play out. Was he supposed to strip and get right down to business as soon as the guy got there, or make small talk first? Would he inadvertently break some kind of silent rule if he asked the man anything personal? Could they even exchange more than first names? How would they decide who did what to whom?
He wasn’t stupid enough to think the escort would turn down anything he asked for, but would it be possible for him to tell if the guy really wanted to do it or not? Was it just a job for him, a way to make a buck, or would he really enjoy it? The thought of fucking someone who just laid there and went through the motions repulsed him.
So many unanswered questions floated around in his head he was beginning to get a headache. Sweat beaded his brow, and his knees cantered up and down. Maybe it wasn’t too late to cancel. He could call. Whether they refunded him his money was of little concern. They could keep it; he had more than he’d ever be able to spend anyway.
He didn’t think he could go through with this after all. It seemed too cold, too impersonal. A little voice in the back of his mind screamed, “That’s the point, jackass. You need cold and impersonal. Do you want to be responsible for someone else’s death?”
That thought chilled him. Christian forcibly shut down his memories before they transported him back to a time he didn’t want to visit. He pushed away his reservations and tried to consider why he’d called Male Companions in the first place.
He was lonely. Though he didn’t like to admit it, even to himself, it was the truth. The acquaintances he’d made over the years, at work, on the rare occasions he deigned to go in and check up on things, and at the firehouse where he volunteered, only went so far. During the day, he was fine. It was at night, after a long day at work or returning from an emergency fire call, that the loneliness crept in and haunted him.
He realized that this wasn’t even about sex, not solely. Sure, he wanted to get off, but what he really needed most was simple human contact, companionship. Sadly, that was the one thing he could never allow himself to possess. Attachments meant caring about someone, making himself vulnerable. In essence, losing control himself. That was something he could never allow.
Christian took several deep, calming breaths. He could do this. He had to. There weren’t any other options left for him. It was anonymous sex or nothing. Though he doubted it, all he could do was hope it would be enough to sustain him.
* * * * *
Tanner arrived at the motel with five minutes to spare. Town had been dead, not a car in sight on his way over. A good thing since old Bessie -- his ten-year-old Mazda -- had sputtered and died twice during the trip across town. It was only a matter of time before the old clunker finally gave out for good.
Part of him wished he’d hung onto his dad’s car, instead of selling it when his father was killed six months prior, but at the time he’d needed the money even more desperately than he did now. The debts his father had left behind were astronomical. Even after he’d sold off everything of value besides the house itself, he still hadn’t brought in enough to cover half of what was owed. Hence, the reason for his shady new career.
For the last four months, he’d been working nights for Male Companions as an escort. Selling his body to the highest bidder wasn’t the most respectable line of work, but he hadn’t known what else to do. It wasn’t like he could make enough to cover his college tuition and pay the mortgage, along with making payments on all of the other debts his father had left on his shoulders. He supposed he could have sold drugs; he knew enough small-time dealers. He could have easily bought a little pot and divided up for resale. Unfortunately, his conscience wouldn’t allow him to do that. Drugs killed people, and no matter how often his buddies tried to convince him marijuana never hurt anyone, he just couldn’t quite believe them. A drug was a drug, plain and simple. Having sex for money, degrading as it was, didn’t hurt anyone besides himself. Besides, it wasn’t like he hadn’t had his share of casual sex along the way, just like everyone else. The only difference was now that he got paid for doing it.
Or so he tried to convince himself as he hustled through the motel lobby toward the service desk.
Though he’d been told which motel to go to and given a name, he hadn’t been given a room number. Which meant he had to go to the desk and ask, something he dreaded every time he was forced to do it. He always imagined the clerk knew exactly who he was and why he was there. It was humiliating.
He rang the bell and waited, tapping his fingers on the hard surface of the beige counter. A bored looking blond, somewhere around his own age of twenty, sauntered out the back room, long, blood red fingernails plastered over her widely yawning mouth. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. “Oh, hello.” She smiled. “Can I help you?”
Tanner groaned inwardly. He was used to being hit on by women, but that didn’t make him any more comfortable with it. “I’m supposed to meet a friend here.” Damn, what was the name he been told to ask for? Chris… or Christian? “His name is, um, Christian, Christian Smith.” God, he hoped that was right. The last name was easy. It was always Smith. People had no imagination.
The smile on the girl’s face dimmed a bit as she turned to the computer and began to type. Silently, he watched her, wondering how she could type at all with those god-awful nails in her way.
She nodded down at the computer screen and then glanced over at him. “I’ll have to call up and ask permission before I can give you any information.” She turned away from him and picked up the phone. From over her shoulder, she said, “It’ll be just a moment.”
“Sure,” he mumbled, his eyes scanning everywhere and nowhere. He just wanted to get to the room, do what he was being paid for, and go home. Afterward, he would be one day closer to financial solvency. One trick closer to owning the home he’d grown up in, free and clear.
He listened as she quietly spoke with someone, her side of the conversation consisting of mainly “yes sir” and “uh huh.” Finally, she hung up and faced him. “Mr. Smith says to send you up. He’s in room 204.”
“Thank you,” he uttered, already striding away from the desk. There was an elevator, but he bypassed it, choosing the stairs instead. He jogged up them quickly, without breaking a sweat, and shoved through the entrance door onto the second floor hallway.
The walls were adorned in hunter green wallpaper with a burgundy trim. The floor was carpeted in the same deep shade of green. The minute details were absorbed as he hustled to the end of the hall, glancing at room numbers along the way. 204 was on the right, near the end.
He stopped outside it and took a breath, giving himself a mental pep talk. You can do this. Just keep your eyes on the prize and get through it, same as always. It was no different than picking someone up at a club. No different at all.
He raised his clenched fist and knocked, his gaze dropping to his feet. Beginnings were strange. Some men wanted him to come in and bend over, take it up the ass like a good little whore and leave, while others wanted to make polite chitchat first. Out of the two, he wasn’t sure which he liked best. Probably the fuck-and-run guys; at least those assignments were faster.
He was still wondering what tonight’s call would be like when the door swung inward. Tanner looked up, and higher still, craning his neck back to gaze into the eyes of his client for the night. The standard greeting he recited to each of his Johns died in his throat.
Saliva pooled in Tanner’s mouth. Fuck. The man was easily six and a half feet of yummy muscle and lean, bottled sex, dwarfing his own five foot eight stature.
Tanner’s brain turned to mush as all the blood in his body drained south and squeezed into his cock, making his balls draw tight inside his Levi’s. His gaze cruised from the man’s tousled, short black hair to his socked feet and back up, absorbing all the details in between. Brooding eyes, square jaw, broad shoulders, and trim hips -- every inch sex incarnate and designed to entice a man like Tanner to his knees in supplication.
The man was exactly the sort of guy who got Tanner’s motor running in overdrive. The kind of hunk he would’ve tried to pick up in any one of the bars he used to frequent, back when he actually had a life. A man he would’ve happily fucked for free, under other circumstances.
Except this was business.
A sheet of ice fell over Tanner, cooling his ardor, easily putting him back in his place. He wasn’t here on a social call. He was here to fuck for money.
Tanner schooled his features into a smile he’d carefully rehearsed in front of the mirror at home. It was supposed to look seductive, but something about the tight feel of his skin stretching out over his cheekbones told him it fell flat tonight. Oh well, he thought ruefully, another night, another dollar.
He met the big man’s gaze and held it. “I’m Tanner. The agency sent me.”
Now, before I share, I'm not knocking fetishes. If you have your thing, and it works for you, then that's great. All I'm saying, is that some subjects strike my whimsy and I can't help but laugh. The book below and it's subject matter is one of the later. And, yes, before anyone asks, I've bought it and am anxiously awaiting it's arrival from Amazon. ;P
The Milk Farm By Luc Milne
You'll have to use your imaginations as far as what this book is about, because Amazon doesn't list a blurb and I haven't read it yet. All I have is one word for you -- glibly stolen from a review someone else posted on the novel -- Mancows.
*giggles like a twelve year old*
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Instead, here I sit, fondling a book.
Over and over…to the point of possibly obsessive-compulsive behavior. It might just verge on the obscene. Definitely, I’ve slid into the realm of heavy petting. And frankely who can blame me with that cover. The fixation on an inanimate object with almost sexual attention probably has a DSMRIII diagnosis, if not a common fetish term.
While I publish in the e-book market, and do fairly well there, there is nothing quite as validating as the tangible, physical manifestation with glossy cover and new book smell. It is visceral. Somehow, it signifies, “I’ve made it.” That name is me. On a book. I can go to Amazon and there it is.
We authors are eternally desperate and sometimes shallow about our need for feedback. Most times what we write disappears in to a void. There are professional reviews, but they can be hit or miss (and not just in content…why one of my books gets dozens of reviews and another gets none, never ceases to bewilder me). There are times when you get fan mail. That is probably one of the most cherished happenings. Someone took a bit of time out of their day, found your email and sent you their thoughts.
Still, the rush of opening that box and seeing my five author copies was like nothing I’d previously experienced in writing. Not my first acceptance. Not my first publication. And honestly, not my first print anthology (anthologies are like a bus…everyone’s on it). I keep looking over at the book, Twice the Cowboy, Twice the Ride and I smile. I write a bit, and look back again. Maybe the gloss will wear off in time.
I hope not.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
This one is coming in December and sounds very promising...
Rough and surly, smooth and sultry, or quick and raw — however you like it, you’ll find it in Best Gay Erotica 2008, twenty of the hottest and best-written man-to-man sex stories to appear in print this year. In "Underground Operator" two men on a nearly empty subway platform indulge in rough, anonymous sex that lets them momentarily forget the stifling summer heat. "Donuts to Demons" finds a self-described "rock-n-roll artfag" searching for a lover "as patient and gifted and generous as he advertised on craigslist."
Wild Gay Erotica? Even the title makes me want to break out my spurs...
Country boys are a special breed. Something about that wild terrain brings out the best — and the sexiest — in a man. These tobacco-chewin', cattle-ropin' icons in temptingly baggy overalls or skin-tight wranglers rank with cops and soldiers as the most potent symbols of the naturally masculine male. Sweating and sensual from honest, hard work (and play), they come in all shapes, sizes, and erotic potential. City homos hike the wilds to commune with nature and nature boys. Gay pioneers enjoy rural living and loving. Lonesome queers meet for moonlight trysts in the cornfields. Whether yielding to the rugged charms of that hunky ranger during bear season or skipping the farmer's daughter in favor of his accommodating son, the men of Country Boys: Wild Gay Erotica unabashedly explore sizzling sex far from the city lights.
This one's a novel, and a historical at that.
Move over, Scarlett O’Hara! It’s New England, 1861, and the troubles in the southern states seem a long way off for Jack Edgerton, the spoiled son of a prominent Vermont family. However, when he meets and falls in love with Aaron Johnson, the sexy son of a slave on the run from Virginia, Edgerton’s world is turned upside down. Separated by circumstances, the lovers pursue each other through the escalating madness of the Civil War and both find themselves forced to choose sides. After a series of outrageous adventures — including steamy woodland trysts and an impromptu jailhouse orgy that briefly reconciles the warring parties — they are reunited in the Shenandoah Valley in the autumn of 1864 — where the conflict is about to come to a bloody, burning climax.
Hmmmm... impromptu jailhouse orgy? Sounds steamy. If you've ever enjoyed a Cleis book and have a recommendation, feel free to share - or any other MM print book. I love ebooks, but lately I've been craving something to read while sprawled out on the couch.
Have a great humpday!
Monday, November 12, 2007
Free Comments & Graphics Codes
Yes, I know it was technically yesterday, but today is the official observation of it (which was why my hubby was home bugging me instead of at work - lol) I hope everyone took a minute to thank a veteran today serving their country.
Now, since I was so distracted today from writing and promoting and such, I got to thinking about TV Shows. There was Queer as Folk. Will and Grace. Ellen. These shows were created around gay characters.
Then there were the oldies, but goodies which had gay characters in them; Melrose Place's Matt. Dawson's Creek's Jack, then later Doug (drool).
Oh, and I've gotten into Torchwood lately and there's plenty of lesbian scenes and the net is full of assumptions that Captain Jack is bisexual-- or gay depending on where you go.
And did you know that Mystique from X-men is actually bisexual?
Or that Sailor Uranus and Salior Neptune are actually a lesbian couple (though the American version has them as 'cousins')?
So here's my question to you. Is there a show out there that drew you in and kept you coming back for more because of the gay relationships in them? Is there a show that brings slashy thoughts to mind? (My own guilty pleasure is Roswell slash fics) Perhaps this will bring back some good memories or get me looking into new shows.
Also, a week from today, my Christmas M/M story is being released at Phaze. *happy dance* It's titiled enWrappture and is part of Phaze's Frost Heatsheet line along with a follow up to my Valentine themed Heatsheet, At The Edge
Last, but not least. An editor friend and I have created a blog called Worlds of Mayhem. It's a tool which we would like to use to help others, along with ourselves, promote books. It's not a review blog, but somepleace readers can go to find great reads. Our target is from fluffy romance to hot erotic romance, all genres welcome. In fact, I'd love to see more M/M authors eventually on our list. Come check us out and let us know if you'd like to participate.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I have a cover. It's gorgeous! The cover artist outdid herself, and she's one heck of a talented lady. I can't show it off yet. I'm on pins and needles, at the edge of my seat, trying to keep this cover close to my chest. It's too pretty to hide away, but I'm waiting for some final approvals. Then, I shall show the world.
Anticipation. It goes hand in hand with the "p" word: Patience. It takes both of them to be a writer, but oh, the suspense is killing me.
Can't wait to share!!!!!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Shayne and I just had our newest release from Phaze: The Adventures of Captain Chase Sykes & Navigator Duncan Sampson. (What a title, eh?)
This book is far different from anything we've ever written. There's hot sex, oh yeah--but there's also technobabble that's beyond insane, utterly bizarre creatures, and of course, the off-the-wall antics our heroes manage to pull off--all while saving the galaxy. ;)
So, do you like comedy in your romance?
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Though I had heard of NaNoWriMo before, last year was my first attempt at it. I succeeded, much to my own surprise, and had a lot of fun in the process. This year I couldn't afford to take a whole month off my writing schedule to work on a new novel (I have a short story series slated for release next year and wanted to get as much of that out of the way as I could), so I decided to focus on writing 50k worth of the interrelated stories for my series.
The one question I get a lot when I mention NaNoWriMo is, what do you win? The short answer of it ~ nothing. Not a damn thing. But I gain the knowledge that I can write 50k in one month's time, that I have the drive, determination, and discipline to do so, particularly during a month as hectic (at least here in the USA) as November.
As of today, I'm just over 11,500 words. I finished one short story in four days and am nearing completion on the second. My goal is a total of 7-8 short stories roughly 6,000 to 7,000 words in length. This should give me the 50k mark to "win" NaNoWriMo again this year.
Since this is my first post to the "Slash & Burn" blog (thank you, guys, for having me!), here is an excerpt that I wrote this morning (unedited, so go easy on me). For those new to the characters, Vic gains a variety super powers from his lover Matt during sex. Their position during the deed determine what power he gets. This story is part of an upcoming series entitled The Positions of Love, to be published by Amber Allure. Book one will be released in December.
In the excerpt below, Vic and Matt are leaving an expensive steakhouse late at night on Valentine's Day. Their friskiness before dinner has given Vic pyrotechnic abilities ... in effect, he can conjure fireworks from his fingertips. They're leaving the restaurant and are in the parking lot heading for their car ...
"I want to see the sparks again," Matt muttered.
Vic's arm slid around his waist to hug him tight. "Oh, sparks will fly tonight," he promised, nuzzling against Matt's black curls.
His lover snickered. At Vic's car, Matt turned to lean back against the passenger side door before Vic could open it for him. Grabbing Vic's lapels with both hands, Matt pulled him down for a warm, wet kiss. Their bodies meshed together against the cold metal door, and Vic had to place his hands against the icy window to keep from falling into Matt. His lover's breath was combustible, his kiss alcoholic. Thrusting his hips into Vic's, Matt licked the roof of Vic's mouth as if dinner hadn't been enough to satisfy his hunger. "Love me," he murmured against Vic's lips. "Right here."
It was so hard to say no. "Soon," Vic tried -- the key in his hand scraped along the side of his car door, seeking the lock.
When it slid into place, Vic gave into Matt's kiss, forgetting the key and the restaurant and whoever might be watching them in the darkened parking lot. A shower of sparks shot from Vic's hands, warming the night around them. Matt's tongue and lips only fueled the electricity in Vic's system, cranking it up notch after notch until all Vic heard was the sizzle erupting from his fingers. He smelled burning metal and singed fabric, and could feel the sparkling tingle like waves of electrical current washing over him, bursting from his extremities. His fingers were full of power, his feet tickled with it, even his dick danced in his briefs, spurred by Matt's kiss, his hands, his own sheathed erection pressing into Vic's crotch. Like Frankenstein's monster, every inch of Vic came alive at his lover's touch.
After an eternity, Matt released him with a breathless giggle. "Talk about sparks," he murmured, wiping his lower lip with one finger. "Open the door for me?"
Vic moved to comply, only to find the key soldered into the lock. The metal had melted together during the heat of their kiss. Stepping away from the car, Vic looked at his hands and for the first time saw blackened nails, reddened skin. The cuffs of his blazer and the shirt beneath it were singed and fraying, some threads still smoldering. Vic glanced at his feet and saw the nail of one big toe winking up at him through the top of his charred shoe.
Matt started to laugh.
"Cute," Vic grumbled. "This was my best suit."
"Look at this," his lover said, poking at Vic's crotch.
Matt's fingers wiggled into Vic's groin, and he caught the hand before it could go any farther. "That's what got me so heated up in the first place."
"No," Matt told him. "Look."
Vic glanced down and groaned as he turned his back to the restaurant. A neat little hole the size of a cigarette burn had been seared into the crotch of his pants to the right of his zipper. Vic could see the pink tip of his cock through the hole, and Matt seemed unable to keep from touching it. His forefinger worked its way into the hole, rubbing over Vic's dick, tearing the fabric more. "Hey Sparky," Matt purred, leaning against Vic as his hands rubbed at his lover's crotch. "Got a light?"
For more Vic & Matt, please visit my website. Two e-books in a related series, The Powers of Love, are now available.
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Jon Stewart hits the nail on the head, as usual. The studios wouldn't have revenue-generating website content if it weren't for writers.
I thought this diary of a striking writer was also very interesting. The long-term gain for the writers will certainly come with a truckload of short-term pain.
Monday, November 5, 2007
This book was actually better than I expected. I thought it would be erotica, and it turned out to be a really hot romance. Lots of yummy scenes and a happy ending. It doesn't get much better than that.
Bought And Paid For
This book probably isn't for everyone. It's very light on descriptions and jumps time quite a bit. I wouldn't even really call it erotic, since most of the intimate scenes seem forced, or coerced at the very least. And yet something about it held my attention all the way through and prompted me to buy the two sequels (which are still in transit from Amazon). It could be the hint of mystery regarding a secret organization one of the two main characters is involved in. I just love a good conspiracy.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
© Copyright 2007 Ally Blue
In the twilight shadows, nothing is what it seems, and not all the monsters have claws.
(Book Three in the Bay City Paranormal Investigations series)
While leading an amateur ghost-hunting expedition in Asheville, NC, Bay City Paranormal is called to investigate Sunset Lodge, a rustic inn situated on a remote Smoky Mountain peak. In recent weeks, employees and guests alike have seen a weird, frightening creature in the forest near the lodge. A creature which sounds all too familiar to the BCPI team.
Sam Raintree doesn’t want to deal with another interdimensional gateway. The last one they faced nearly took the life of Sam’s employer and lover, Dr. Bo Broussard, and Sam can’t stand the thought of it happening again. Especially now that he and Bo are finally together and working through their problems. But Sam’s psychokinetic abilities give him the power to permanently close the gateways, and he can’t bring himself to ignore that. With the safety of the Sunset Lodge staff and guests at stake, Sam, Bo and their colleague, Dean Delapore, make the trip to the Lodge to determine if it indeed hosts a portal to another dimension.
Once at Sunset Lodge, a missing man, a grisly discovery and a moment of carelessness converge to reveal secrets much different—and far uglier—than any the BCPI team expected. Secrets which not only put their lives in danger, but which might provide Sam with an escape from the portals. If he’s willing to take it.
Sam Raintree shifted in his chair, his video camera trained on the faint outline of the door to the large room. He glanced at the fluorescent hands of his watch. Eleven-thirty p.m.
Come on, he thought, his foot tapping an impatient rhythm on the carpet. We can only stay in here until midnight, then we have to meet the rest of the group. Please show up.
As if in response to his thought, a glowing mist began to gather against the closed door. In a few seconds, it resolved itself into a wispy female figure with short, sleek black hair and delicate features. She wore a deep red dress which brushed the floor and left her white shoulders bare.
“Holy shit,” whispered the young man sitting at the other side of the little round table. “It’s her. It’s the Lady in Red.”
Sam nodded, his gaze flicking between the camera’s display screen and the apparition drifting toward the bed. “Sure enough.” He flashed a grin at his companion. “Exciting, isn’t it?”
The young man—Toby something, Sam could never remember his last name—didn’t say anything, but the look on his face was answer enough. His awestruck expression was obvious even in the faint light cast by the camera. Sam swallowed a laugh. He understood how the boy felt. Hell, this was only the second true apparition Sam had ever seen. He was nearly as excited as Toby.
The Lady in Red had been haunting Asheville, North Carolina’s Kimberley Inn for eighty years, ever since she was murdered in her bed back in the nineteen-twenties. She’d been seen by countless guests and most of the staff. According to the Inn’s owners, she had interacted with some of the witnesses but had never harmed anyone.
The same could be said of the other spirits rumored to inhabit the one hundred and twenty-five year old building. Which was why Bay City Paranormal Investigations had decided to make the Kimberley Inn one of their biannual investigation trips for amateur ghost hunters. They could teach a group of interested—and paying—guests the basics of paranormal investigation, with almost guaranteed ghost sightings and no chance of anyone being harmed. At least not by ghosts.
Toby squeaked when the Lady turned her blurry white face toward him, stopped and hovered in the air at the end of the bed. “What’s she doing?” he hissed, cutting a panicked glance at Sam. “Don’t let her hurt me!”
“She won’t hurt you,” Sam murmured, keeping the camera rolling. “Just stay calm, Toby. She’s been known to interact with people before, you know that. She’s never hurt anyone, she’s just being friendly.”
The Lady floated closer. She smiled, her lips stretching a bit too wide and revealing yellow, uneven teeth. The effect was rather ghastly. Sam shuddered, even though he didn’t believe for a second she would hurt either of them. The psychic energy he sensed from her was perfectly benign.
She stretched out a translucent hand to Toby, who cringed away. “Sam…”
“Relax.” Sam zoomed in for a close-up on her face. “Come on, this is why you’re here, right?”
“I didn’t think any of the ghosts would touch me.”
“She won’t hurt you.” Panning out again, Sam shot Toby an irritated look. “Just hold still and don’t engage her. Maybe she’ll leave you alone and go to the bed like she usually does.”
Toby looked doubtful, but he froze in place, lips pressed together. The Lady, it seemed, wasn’t giving up so easily. Her hand shot out, and slim white fingers grasped at Toby’s arm. They passed right through, insubstantial as they were, but Toby shrieked as if he’d been skewered.
“Fuck!” He leapt from the chair, sending the EMF detector which had been on his lap crashing to the floor, and ran across the room. Flinging the door open, he dashed down the hallway as if a pack of rabid dogs was after him.
Sam sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Amateurs.” It was an unkind thing to say, but he didn’t care. Toby had been nervous and jumpy every step of the way so far. They’d only been here two days, but Toby’s attitude was already getting on his nerves.
Worst of all, Toby’s hysterics had apparently disturbed the Lady in Red. Instead of lying down on the bed and slowly disappearing as witnesses said she usually did, she abruptly vanished from the spot where she’d been hovering in front of Toby’s chair.
“Well, that’s just great.” Switching the camera off, Sam set it on the table, leaned back in the chair and shut his eyes. He’d taken Toby along to investigate the Lady in Red’s room because he thought she’d scare Toby less than any of the other spirits they’d potentially encounter. Boy, was I ever wrong about that.
He wondered if he had any ibuprofen left. The headache coming on promised to be a monster.
The door swung shut with a faint squeak. The lock snicked, and light footfalls sounded across the room. Sam smiled. “Hi, Bo.”
“How’d you know it was me?” A warm body straddled Sam’s lap, knees pressing on either side of his hips. “Could’ve been anyone.”
Opening his eyes, Sam smiled at the silhouette of Dr. Bo Broussard’s head. “I recognized your walk.”
“Yeah.” Sam slipped his arms around Bo’s waist and aimed a kiss at where his mouth should be, landing half on and half off his bottom lip. “You walk like a cat. All quiet and slinky.”
Bo laughed. “What did you do to Toby? He ran out of here like a horde of demons was chasing him.”
“I didn’t do a damn thing. He scared himself, like always.”
“Does that mean the Lady in Red showed up?”
“She sure did.” Sliding his hands lower, Sam grabbed Bo’s ass and squeezed, drawing a surprised sound from his boss and lover. “She liked Toby, but he didn’t like her much.”
Bo wriggled his ass in Sam’s grip, settling more firmly astride him. “You know, if I’d had any idea that boy was going to be so easily spooked I would’ve given his spot to someone else.”
“I hear you. It’s kind of hard to screen people just from emails and online forms, though. He said in his application that seeing a real ghost was his lifelong dream.”
“Maybe we should revamp our screening process for these trips.” Bo began rocking his hips back and forth between Sam’s grasping hands and his belly. “I don’t want to end up with someone really unstable one of these days.”
Sam licked his lips, trying to concentrate on the conversation. It wasn’t easy, with Bo’s butt muscles flexing in his palms and Bo’s crotch rubbing against his abdomen. God, the man knew just how to drive him crazy. “Um…they have to sign a waiver.”
“Yes, but Toby’s behavior has me rethinking the whole process.” Bo dipped his head, brushing his lips against Sam’s neck. “Maybe we should only bring people local to Mobile, so we can meet them beforehand.”
“Or just conduct all these amateur investigations locally.” Sam groaned when Bo’s teeth sank into his flesh at the juncture of neck and shoulder. “Bo, unless you’re prepared to throw me on that bed right now and explain to the group later what we were doing all this time, you’d better stop it.”
Bo laughed, but Sam felt the sudden tension in his body. No one except their coworkers and friends at Bay City Paranormal Investigations knew they were a couple. It wasn’t ideal, as far as Sam was concerned. He’d much rather be completely open in their relationship. But Bo had what he felt were valid reasons to keep their secret from all but their closest friends, and Sam respected that. After nearly losing Bo during the South Bay High investigation two months earlier, Sam had decided he could deal with a little secrecy as long as they were both alive, and together.
“Sorry,” Bo said, moving off Sam’s lap. He stood, outlined in the faint light bleeding around the door. “I can’t get you off my mind today.”
“Just today?” Sam rose to his feet, crossed the room and flipped on the lights. “Seems to me like you’ve been all over me ever since we got here.”
“I think it’s being here at the Inn. Being alone in a room with you every single night.” Bo tugged on the waist-length black braid hanging over one shoulder. “You’d think all that sex would calm my libido down, but it seems to be having the opposite effect. I can’t get enough of you.”
The reminder that soon they’d be back in their room, alone and horny, made Sam’s groin twitch. He loved the frequent sex, but what he loved more was simply having Bo with him. Being able to hold him close while they slept, to wake up with Bo in his arms and make love in the early morning light. It was a rare thing for them, and Sam cherished every second.
Click here to read more about the Bay City Paranormal Investigations series!
Click here for purchase info!
And happy reading :D
Friday, November 2, 2007
Sometimes they drive me crazy (especially when the cats decide my scanner is their bed) but I can’t imagine my life without these little guys, and I don’t want to. They love unconditionally, never judge, and brighten my day (even when the pooch is stealing naps on my bed cuz she thinks I don’t know about it -- BUT I DO, because my pillow itches all night afterwards).
But what would’ve happened if we hadn’t taken in these sweeties? Tragically, most strays never have the chance to find a good home. :’( But there are folks helping to care for cats and dogs in these situations, and November 4th – 10th is the time of year to recognize the organizations that lend man’s best friend a helping paw. :)
In celebration of National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, I’d like to help raise funds for Operation Kindness – a wonderful organization in North Texas devoted to housing and caring for animals until they find a loving home. This is a No-Kill shelter, and they help connect more than 2,500 dogs and cats with caring owners every year while maintaining humane conditions in their facility. I learned about Operation Kindness through my veterinarian, who has volunteered at the shelter in the past.
I’m selling four signed poster prints of some of my popular covers for m/m shifter books at $20, shipping included. Five dollars from each sale will be donated to Operation Kindness, and at the end of the month, I’ll match the total. The poster prints are 11”x17”, and will be shipped in a mailing tube along with a certificate of authenticity (ooh!) and some other goodies I have around: bookmarks, a mini-button, okashi. The covers are JL Langely's With Caution, Jet Mykles' Leashed 2, and my own Pawprints.
Please post here with any questions about the print sale, or feel free to drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org If you’d like to find a No-Kill shelter in your area, check here for locations. There are so many different things you can do to help the organizations in your area, which include donating supplies or volunteering time to help care for the animals.
Thanks so much!
Thursday, November 1, 2007
First, I have a halloween short story out as of yesterday. JACK
Security guard Blake is pretty happy working the night shift at a factory, even if he is on duty on Halloween. He gets a little lonely sometimes, though, so he's glad to meet Jack, the extra man the company has hired to keep an eye out on the biggest night for mischief all year. He thinks Jack is the hottest thing going, but is Jack going to be more than Blake bargains for?
buy it here
Then, because it is November 1, the Day of All Souls, I thought I might give you a little teaser from my book BITTERSWEETS: A TASTE OF HALLOWEEN available through Torquere Press. The excerpt is from Sugar Skull, set in Mexico on the final day of the dead.
Things that go bump in the night abound in this Taste Test from James Buchanan. From summoning an ancient spirit to magical spells that go awry, these fours stories will chill and thrill you. Capturing folktales from Mexico to Russia, these steamy tales will have you jumping at every sound, and wishing you had more. Be careful what you wish for, though, for like the characters in these stories, you might get more than you bargained for! Give yourself a treat today!
Mama’s house smelled of copra. Fermented coconut oil burned in small bowls throughout the rooms. The sweet, almost overwhelming, scent reminded mortals of death. It mixed with the heady perfume of chiles, almonds, and chocolate rising from the dishes of mole to sting Amado’s nose. Marigolds and baby’s-breath spilled over vases on a small table covered in a red cloth. A trail of them wound through the house and off toward the cemetery. The fragrant path would bring the dead home tonight. Tall candles flickered in their votive jars. The flames sparkled off beaten-tin frames holding pictures of grandparents, aunts and uncles gone for years. Tiny, skeletal children played with miniature toys amidst the flowers. Los Dias de los Muertos… today was for the dead children, tomorrow would be for adults who’d passed.
Threading his arms through his button-down shirt, Amado wandered into the kitchen. His short, black hair was still damp from the shower. He’d spent all morning scrubbing their family’s graves and painting the tombstones blue to ward off evil. His mother, round and happy in a flowered apron, was singing to herself as she put the finishing touches on a tray of alfeñiques. Row after row of foil eyed skulls peered from the trays. Mama and her sister owned una tienda de dulces, it had been in their family for generations. While the regular candies were prepared and sold at the shop, specialty items were often made in small batches at home. That way they could take their time and do it "right."
Although Mexican families bought the tiny meringue and sugar sculptures well in advance, there were still tourists who wanted them for souvenirs. Many of the skulls would not survive the trip. Cocking his hip against the rough wood table, Amado picked at icing drying in a plastic bowl. His mother slapped his hand. "Aye, Geme," she scolded him with his nickname, "you are such a little boy." Waving toward a batch of egg sized skulls behind her, "Los Pequeños are for you. One each." Like always, she’d made one set of twins and scribbled his name, Amado, and that of his twin sister, Amada, on foil tags pasted across the skulls’ foreheads. Reaching over the table, he grabbed the one decorated with ribbons of green and yellow frosting. Those were his favorite colors.
As he nibbled a little icing from the skull, Amada bounced into the room. Glitter jeans and a too tight t-shirt stretched across her body. At least she didn’t slather make-up on. She was too pretty for that, with full lips and large almond eyes. Her thick black hair was styled around a heart shaped face nearly the mirror of his own. When they were children, the resemblance had been so striking that if they switched clothes their parents could barely tell them apart. Ever since they’d hit puberty, Amado had been hit by friends who just wanted to get to his sister. Amada complained of a similar problem with him. He guessed it was fair.
"Geme," she squealed, "Just who was looking for."
He already sensed he was about to get hit up for a favor. "No."
Gloss shimmered as she pouted. "I haven’t even asked." He hated it when she whined.
"But the answer is no."
Their mother laughed, wiping her hands on her apron, "I need to get boxes for these." She brushed hair from her daughter’s forehead and pinched his cheek as she passed them. "Be nice to your sister, Geme."
Madi waited until there mother was out of earshot. Then she hit him with the pleading, "You have to help me. I’m supposed to take those to Tia’s, but Juan just called. He wants to go out." Juan was his best friend at work. He hated it when his sister dated his friends because their break-ups were hell on him. No matter how many times he asked, she wouldn’t stop using his friends as her date stable. "Please, Geme, for me."
Normally he didn’t mind doing favors for his twin sister, but she was supposed to be working today. She helped Mama and Tia in the family shop. It was so irresponsible, just like her. He headed toward the living room. "No!"
"Please!" The whining plea cut through the skin as she followed him.
Exasperated, he turned on her. "It’s my day off!" All he wanted to do was sit in front of the TV, watch telenovelas with Abuela for a while and then go grab a beer with some friends. It was one of the few holidays from the factory he’d had. He broke off an icing flower from the skull candy and sucked it to nothing in his mouth.
"Don’t make me beg, Geme." Arms folded across her chest, bottom lip stuck out, Madi was pulling the same doe-eyed pout she’d used since they were kids. "Please!"
Amado wanted to tell her to go jump from the church steeple. "Madi!" Something just nibbled at him, down in his gut, and he found himself saying, "Aye, damn, go. I’ll do it."
She kissed his cheek. "You know I love you, Geme." Waving as she trotted from the house. "Car keys are on the TV." Completely reckless and out to have fun, sometimes he wondered how they’d grown up so different.
He turned to find Mama staring from the kitchen. "Where is she going?"
"She and Juan are going out." He threw up his hands to stop the avalanche of questions he knew would follow. "I’m taking the dulces to Tia. I don’t know anything else, so don’t ask." Pushing past into the kitchen, Amado wrapped his little skull in a napkin and began packing boxes. Behind him, his mother snorted her disgust with his sister. There was no doubt in his mind that Madi was in for a scolding when she got back. Immature, the wild child, she got scolded quite often. Geme was the sensible one of the pair… they looked alike, but they weren’t the same person at all.
Row upon row of tiny skulls were packed snug into the boxes. It might be good going into the city. Maybe he’d call his friends and have them meet him in the Zócalo tonight. They could watch the fireworks, have some drinks and he’d miss the fireworks at home.