Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's just a little world, ain't it...

Okay-- so I sent this out via social media, but I thought it would be good to tell the whole story, because DUDES, WOW!

So, most people know I twine the real and the imaginary in my contemporary--and sometimes that's a bad thing, because, hey, grasp on reality is a little thin, and sometimes that's a good thing. You know, like when I took the dance persona of a kid I've seen performing all his life and turned it into Cy-- looks like the kid, but I don't really know the kid, so I can write his story anyway I like.  That's a good time when the thin membrane of reality and imagination allows flow through. 

 And like what happened today.

Because this was cool.

I went in to Candy Heaven today-- and if you look close at that picture, you can see the sign in the corner of the building. (Sort of in the dead center of the picture, actually--and my God was it a pretty day.) I went to give Darrin a copy of the book, and we got to chat, and A. He's read the first two books and loved them which made me happy, and B. He told me he had a daughter--and I didn't know this, and this was one of the reasons I didn't want to make up a life story for him so, there you go. He's got a daughter--and she was reading Bitter Taffy. And she said, "Hey... I know this person!" 

"Who?"

"The writer! She's the teacher who let me crochet in class!"

And oh my God. He showed me a picture, and I remembered her--and you know what else I remember? She was actually in the second two books of Bitter Moon-- she's one of Marv's sisters. Now I want to go back and give him copies of of those books too, because I think they would both be excited. 

And my mind is blown. I mean so blown. That's amazing. And I love Darrin (the real Darrin) even more now!

As it was? He called my kids over and told them to fill up a candy barrel, on him. Their father and I were like, "NOT FULL NOT FULL NOT FULL!!" so, I think we ended up with about 2/3rds, and you know? It's gonna be there when I get back from  Florida, and that doesn't count that we gave some to my parents when we met today for ZoomBoy's soccer. 

Oh-- and about soccer.  Mate and ZoomBoy's team won their indoor game today-- 3-2. Squish's team lost yesterday, Mock 7-2.  We call it "Mock" because the indoor arena doesn't acknowledge a gap bigger than 5 points. So, you know, kids don't look up at the end of the first half and go, "20-1? We're just gonna lie on the floor like starfish and make faces at the ceiling!"  So, you know. Mock 7-2. Squish got put in midfield, and she'd never played that. She would look at us with this expression of, "Offense or defense?" and her father and I yelled, "YES!" 

Okay-- and one more thing.

The first two Ryan and Scott stories are going to be offered for free! They were tiny shorts, Shirt was in the Curious anthology and Phonebook was offered as a $1.99 short, and their contracts expired. I asked nicely, and my glorious CEO allowed DSP to release them for free and they should be up on the websites in March and May, I believe. 

And the covers are adorable! 






Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lessons from the Universe--A Keeping Promise Rock ficlet

This takes place when J.D. is not quite three...
***

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes!"

Crick narrowed his eyes in the early March sunshine and latched his good arm more solidly around his son. "I said no, dammit. You can't stand on the top rung of the damned pen, because you are your father's son and you will fall off the top of the rail."

J.D. scowled at him from a pair of familiar green eyes and tossed his brown hair out of his eyes. "Cause I b'long dere!" he insisted. Oh God-- he didn't even have shoes on when he escaped. He was wearing an old onesie, because that was the only thing he had clean, and it was chilly in early March. His feet were covered in mud.

Crick tightened his hold and counted to ten, and Andrew looked up from where he was breaking a sweet little mare and laughed. "You're going to lose that battle," he said mildly.

"Yes," Crick agreed, "but not until he's five. He's two and a half."  Oh God. Crick's heart had stopped so many times after watching Deacon in the pen. "Deacon promised."

Andrew nodded. "I hear ya. I even agree. I"m just saying, you need to give him something or he's going to climb in here when someone's not looking, and that would be pretty bad too."

Crick's heart stuttered. The kid was just so fast. If it hadn't been for the dog, who tended to run around in circles wherever J.D. had wandered off to, Crick thought for sure they would have lost him before now.  His eyes burned in that terrible retroactive fear parents felt whenever they perceived a near thing.

"Daddy, too tight!"

Crick adjusted the little terror on his hip, scrubbed his face with his hand, and tried to get himself together. J.D.'s molars had been coming in and he fussed late into the night. He'd started potty training the month before, but the molar thing had happened and so had a lot of accidents. The result was a whole lot of Huggies Pull-Ups being used for their original intention: diapers.

And Deacon and Crick were exhausted.

Deacon, true to his gentleman's soul, took J.D. duty as soon as he came in and washed up. He got up in the night, got up early in the morning, and tried to give Crick a break in the middle of the day.  But Crick woke up every time Deacon got up, and during the day, J.D. just didn't quit. Deacon was gone at the moment because Crick had been so out of it he'd forgotten about Huggies and milk, and Crick and J.D. had been sleeping off an epic cry-athon.

"Sorry, buddy," Crick said, turning back into the house. "I just really need you to chill out until Deacon gets home, okay? He's going to have milk and snacks and Huggies and you and me can sit and watch cartoons and chill."

The house was not in great shape. Again, Deacon helped--but Crick had never realized how amazing his sister was to raise Parry and help Deacon with the business and go to school until right now.  Yeah, he remembered being tired during the first couple of months, but his body--not at optimum--was a hindrance now in ways he'd never imagined when he'd first come home.

Suddenly J.D. began to cry, curling into Crick's arm with a pathetic little sniffle. "'Toons?'"

"Yeah, buddy," Crick said wearily. The house could wait. Hell, they had fruit snacks and tinned chicken soup-- cooking could wait. "Toons."

A half an hour later they huddled on the couch while the brilliant March day went on around them.  J.D. had his face tucked into Crick's chest and Teen Titans, a cartoon Crick loathed played endlessly on the television. They were both covered in mashed cracker crumbs and chicken soup residue, and Crick wasn't sure he could move if a tornado touched down.

Deacon's tread in the house was as leaden as Crick felt, and like a coward, Crick closed his eyes and hoped the sleep card would get him out of being a grown up for one more chore. He listened as Deacon moved around the kitchen, putting stuff away and cleaning up the lunch mess and, oh thank you, singing quietly to himself--Damien Jurado, "Sheets".  Is he still coming around like an injured bird, leaving a nest...

Crick smiled softly, loving the song even though the story--that of a love triangle--was about the furthest thing from their lives right now.

The final thump and the final crinkle of a reusable bag, and the couch next to Crick depressed.

"C'mon, Crick, help me out and lean on my chest."

Oh, God, he sounded exhausted.

Crick did just that and snuggled. He hadn't showered that morning because they'd been that tired, and he smelled like horse and sweat and whatever J.D. had eaten that morning.

He smelled wonderful.

Crick allowed himself to be enveloped, and the three of them settled in to a drowsy, heavy-bodied nap on the couch.

He woke up and his game leg and arm were cramping like mad.

He gave a little cry and tried hard to stretch that side of his body without disturbing Deacon.  Deacon startled and then--prompted by a lot of nights when Crick would wake up in pain and need stretching, got with the program immediately, kneading his arm and pushing against his foot at the same time.

J.D. slept through it all.

Deacon laughed a little when Crick's last cramp gave, and he stood up and walked to the refrigerator, coming back with a soda and some Advil to loosen the muscles. Then he picked J.D. up and kissed his cheek.

"Damn, little guy, you sure do have us at our wit's end."

"Deac'n," J.D. murmured, and snuggled in some more.

"We're going to have to wake him soon," Crick mumbled. "Or we'll get our days and nights turned around."  It had happened in the first two months--sleeping in the day and being awake all night. They'd fixed it, but it had sucked.

"Yeah." Deacon took a swig of Crick's soda. "I'll take care of that. You go lay down and sleep off that cramp in the bed, Carrick. Don't worry about things tonight. We're tuckered."

Crick didn't even ask questions. He dragged his ass to bed, shucked his clothes and fell in. God, who knew the terrible twos were more terrible for the parents than the two-year-old?

He woke up, heart pounding, to the early spring evening chill.

On God. Deacon--J.D.!  Dinner, laundry, childcare--shit!

He threw on his jeans and and a T-shirt and limped out to the front room, looking around wildly.

Missy was home from junior college classes and was cleaning the kitchen. He vaguely remembered that it was her turn, but her schedule was pretty brutal, so they'd learned not to count on her. Kimmy was dusting in living room, and Benny was folding clothes on the couch.

"Oh, hell," Crick mumbled, feeling inadequate as hell. "Did Deacon call you all?"

"Missy called us, asshole," Benny muttered. "Jesus, look at this place. Why didn't you tell us J.D. was teething?"

"Because maybe I wanted to not be helpless," Crick muttered, stretching out his scarred arm with a vengeance.

"Oh please," Benny snorted. "I took help every chance I got. You weren't so squeamish when he was a fry."

"Sit down and have a cookie," Missy ordered. "Deacon bought the kind with a thousand milligrams of fat in them-- you need to have a few."

"Oh, God--someone needs to not let that man go shopping."  The shortbread with the fudge centers--every damned time.

"Well, better him than you when you're falling apart," Benny said practically, making a neat pile of J.D.'s jeans. A good thing too--he had actually been wearing a onesie that morning--because it was the only thing he had clean. "Honestly, Crick."  She stood, her tummy popping out just a tad from the waistband of her leggings.  "It's going to be hard. I mean, I know you managed diaper changing when he was tiny, but you're chasing after a kid who can outrun a fully functioning adult. It's going to tire you out."

Ugh.  Crick shoved half a cookie in his mouth and followed it with a gulp of milk. "Mothers have been raising toddlers while pregnant for years."

"Well yeah," Kimmy agreed, putting the feather duster in the cupboard by the washroom. "But usually with help from parents and family. I mean yeah, Shane and I were twins, but we had a nanny a piece."

"Fan-ceee!" Missy sneered--but playfully, which was a nice change from the surly child she had been.

"Yeah, it was," Kimmy agreed. "You do not know what I used to try to do to get their attention."

"What about Shane?" Crick asked curiously. Parenting--and what kind of parenting had gone into making his friends--had become his hobby in the last two years.

"Shane decided to save the world," Kimmy said, smiling with affection. "The first try didn't work great, so he tried again, and then a third time."

"Third time's the charm," Missy said, and not even she could be facetious about Kimmy's kind-natured brother.

"The point is," Benny said, grabbing her own cookie and drinking some of Crick's milk, "that whole village thing to raise a child is no joke."

Grimly Crick remembered their own parents--and the social workers who had kept trying to take Benny and Parry Angel away from Deacon. "As long as it's not the village idiots."

Missy guffawed and Benny giggled and Kimmy rolled her eyes.

"Here--I'm going to put in the lasagna Deacon bought and we can cookie and kvetch for a while."

"Lasagna? God, that man can't go shopping again!"  His heart was fine-- but that took hard work!

"I'm saying," Kimmy agreed. "I'll go next time. I'll call you and you give me a list."

Crick couldn't argue-- not after almost breaking into tears when J.D. had run out the front door that morning. "Thanks, Kimmy."  Gratitude didn't cover it.

"Yeah, well..."  She squeezed his shoulder as she took her spot at the table.

"Where is J.D.?"  he asked.  He'd known the baby was safe--but obviously not with any of the women since they were all in the kitchen.

"Outside with Deacon," Benny said blithely. "He's on that pony-- you know, the little one with the real sweet temper.  Deacon has him with a helmet and a belt-strap from Project Ride, and they've been going around in circles for like, an hour."

"He's on a horse?" Crick half stood up.  "We weren't supposed to do that when he was five?"

The women all looked at him blankly.

"He's on a pony," Benny said, nonplussed. "Strapped in, like the Project Ride people do. And a helmet. And Deacon and Drew. Crick, do you or do you not want to sleep tonight?"

"Oh God."  Crick buried his face in his hands. "I do. I so do."

"Well then, trust in the universe a little and let Deacon do his thing. Tire the kid out, make him happy, give him some Orajel and maybe be a human being tomorrow."  Benny could shrug. She'd been mommy for nearly nine years and Auntie Benny for two and a half, and she seemed to just have this shit all sorted. Once again, Crick couldn't find his if it was handed to him in  paper cup.

That night, though, Missy did the dishes and J.D. went down like a dream, and Deacon came to bed early.  It was... oh my God, an Easter miracle. 

Deacon slid into bed and had Crick roll over on his stomach while he gave him a rubdown, and then, when Crick had groaned and all his tight muscles felt like spaghetti, he settled back with his Kindle and a pair of reading glasses recently adopted for just this moment in time.

"That's it?" Crick asked, feeling a little bereft from Deacon's side.

Deacon looked at him, smiling sweetly, his green eyes lighting with a hint of mischief. "You were tired," he said mildly. "A man doesn't like to presume."

Crick thought about the shopping and the singing, the nap time and the taking the baby right when Crick thought he'd had his absolute limit.

"Presume," he said, grinning. "by all fucking means, presume all over me!"

Deacon laughed heartily, then stood up and locked the door and turned out the light. When he slid back into bed, he was naked and hard, his skin like silk and his muscles as reassuring and sexual as always. As Crick succumbed to their lovemaking in the dark, feeling Deacon's lips and hands on all of the places that made Crick's body sing the most, he had a passing thought.

All of it, sometimes, boiled down to making love in the dark. Trusting that, if you knew your partner, had chosen well, you could have a little faith in the universe, and even if it fucked you, it all felt so damned good.

And oh, yes. When Deacon was inside him, moving powerfully, kissing his back an his neck and his shoulders, it all felt so damned good.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Warning: This Product May Cause Uncontrollable Sobbing

No, not one of my books--although I have to admit, Immortal was a rough write.  No, not reviews, because mostly, don't read them anymore. Not onions, cause yanno, a little butter, some garlic, and num!

No. The product I speak of is apparently a computer game called Undertale. 

I will be honest.

I let my daughter, Chicken, recommend this for Zoomboy.

"He'll be fine, mom. It's sort of emotional, but don't worry, he'll make good choices. It's all bout problem solving and puzzles, really."

Well, I trusted her to watch the kids for a week, right? How bad could it be?

I am not sure exactly what happened in this game. I am not sure what horrible choices you are asked to make if you fail some sort of empathy test.

All I know is that I was taking my, uh, four-o-clock meeting when Squish came running into, the, uhm, meeting room, sobbing her heart out.

"Oh my God! What happened! What's wrong! Why are you crying!"

"Because... the computer game... ZoomBoy made the wrong choooooooiccccce..."

0.0 "The video game? Was it sad?"

"Nooooooo!!! It was tragic!"

"Uh... okay..."

"Mommmmmmmmeeeeee..."

"Honey, I cannot comfort you over a video game while I'm pooping!"

She laughed and sputtered a little and then went out to the car to get her backpack and it was all okay.

Flash forward to tonight, just before bedtime, as we're watching TV and suddenly ZoomBoy's chin starts to quiver, and his face crumples and his father is like, "What happened?"

"I made the wrong ciooooiiiiicccccceeee!!!!"

He cried on me for fifteen minutes.

Now, I know this game is all about not killing people, and I'm all for that. And I love that it holds players accountable for past mistakes.  And while I'm sad that my kids cried, I love that they are aware that violent actions have violent consequences that they apparently regret terribly. 

I am all for this game.

I just, you know. Wish I'd had a little warning about the uncontrollable sobbing. Dude. I would have stocked up on Kleenex and taken my meeting at another time!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Cats and Dogs in Lollipop

*spoilers for some of Lollipop, so if you haven't read it, skip the blog!*


I've said this a lot in other places, but I'm not sure if I've said it here--and now that so many of you have read the book--and loved it!--I thought I should make sure it gets said.

Lollipop is about cats and dogs.

Ezra is a cat--it's why he bonds so closely with Jake. Clopper he comes to love too, but in true cat fashion, there is a lot of "dog avoidance" before he starts to take over dog duties, and when he does take over, Finn has to give him pointers on how not to be the least important puppy.

But Ezra is uncertain about water, graceful in his element, tends to slink, coil, pad, and curl, is helpless like a kitten in the rain when he's abandoned, and on the dance floor he turns into a "black-haired, blue-eyed panther".

If you think about it, Ezra is our first cat in the series.

In Candy Man, Adam was an older alpha dog--and Finn was a playful beta puppy, and so they remain. Finn will always be somewhat of a puppy, and Adam will always be convinced to play more by his happy lover.  In Bitter Taffy Derek is the confident alpha dog in his relationship--and Rico is the beta.  They are both older, not quite so playful, but not quite so striking, either. This could be why Darrin calls them "dumb yuppies" all the time-- he doesn't understand a pair of dogs who are not all about the attention. The only attention Derek an Rico want is from each other, thank you very much!  But see?

All dogs.

Until Ezra. Who is a cat.

Miguel is a dog--and when he sets himself up to be a guard dog and gets all growly, he tends to react a certain way to the men who show interest in Ezra. With one exception, they are all cats.

Cy is described straight out as a jungle cat--big, showy, sleek, and a perfect match for Ezra's dance-floor panther.  The Target clerk hisses at Miguel, trying to bat him away. The bulky waiter from Fat City plasters his body against the display cabinet (like, say, my cat does to my computer desk, or the back of the couch) and "sashays" disdainfully away from Ezra when Miguel growls.

These are cats, and in a way, Miguel is helpless around them--dogs and cats generally have little to communicate about, and just because Miguel has adopted his cat so thoroughly does not mean he knows what to do about other cats except rumble a little and see if they get the hint.

The waffle guy?  He was a dog. (Oh yes, oh yes that guy was a hound.)

Miguel knew exactly what to do with the waffle guy-- he let out a few big woofs and sent him on his way!

And then he turned his attention to his very affectionate kitty cat, and that was fun to write too.

So, yes-- there is one more book in the series--tentatively titled Licorice Whip, and most of you have figured out that Robbie is our next MC, and he is one beat puppy.  Now, a lot of speculation has been thrown about as to the other MC,  and some of you guys know me well enough to figure out that I'm all about dynamic here. If Miguel was the big protective dog and Ezra was the kitten who needed protection, who better to match our poor beat puppy with than a sexy, confident...

Can you guess?
DSP

ARe

Amazon




Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Moo....

In honest to god news this week, somebody stole $50,000 worth of bull semen from a truck in Turlock, which is just south of Sacramento.

You heard that-- someone busted a nut full of bull jizz as it was traveling out of a Sac.

Now, the first thing I did when I heard this was hit Kim Fielding up on Twitter-- she LIVES in Turlock, and I wanted to know what she was going to do about this literary nugget, just dropped into our laps by Chris Hardwick.  ONE of us had to use it.

She responded that there were probably a lot of confused meth heads wandering around the central valley.

I responded with way less class than that.

And what follows is a result of that conversation.  I warn you-- it is INCREDIBLY crude, and, well, it's after midnight. My filter is off, and I am not being kind or politically sensitive to either drug addicts OR cows of any sexual persuasion.  That being said, make sure your head is in the right place when you read this-- oh. And Kim Fielding says that if you have any issues with this at all, you should take it up with her because she made me do it:


Percy the bull got off the dummy,
 Flopped his cock and spat.
"I know my spunk's worth a whole lot of money
 But sex has gotta be better than that!"

"Now Percy, old man," the farmer replied--
From a safe distance, I add--
"This jar o' jizz is gonna be a whole lot of cows,
And you can say you're the dad!"

Percy rolled his eyes and swished his tail,
Lost in a post-coital daze;
He didn't care that his icicle cum-pail
Was gonna get shipped quite a ways!

A couple of souls with bad skin and worse teeth
Were swapping hand jobs behind Daisy's
Where the diesels rolled in and the truckers abounded,
And everyone's morals were hazy.

These guys saw a big truck with a refrigerator car:
Thought, "Must be a fortune in there!"
And since no one was looking--and they were a little bit high--
Breaking in seemed way more than fair!

Pretty soon they were laughing, skipping and dancing
Through the fields behind Hwy 80.
"It's white and it's liquid and flakes when it dries--
Bet this shit will snort up like crazy!"

They ran quite a ways in their post-thievery daze
To a field where the cow patties were fresh.
With a razor and mirror it became a bit clearer
The shit in the pail warn't meth!

But junkies know why just a little bit high
Is better than no high at all.
They both took a snort with no better retort
Than to let the whiffs splay where they fall.

"Gah!" shouted the one guy, the fuck-it-and-cum-guy
"This cow jizz, what's it doing to me?"
"Don't know," said the other--his fuck-and-buzz-brother
"But with the second snort the dick-milk is free!"

"What'll we do?" cried the first guy to snort.
"We've got boners that we just can't make quit!
We've jacked off to tears, and have cum out our ears
And we've come in all holes and our fists!"

"I know!" said the other, "A solution, my brother!
T'was cow jizz that started this tizzy!
Let's find us a cow and go at it--and how!--
And fuck the damned thing 'til we're dizzy!"

"And what will that do?" said the first guy, in tears.
"How's a cow any different for coming?"
"Well for one thing, they move," the second guy observed,
"It's much harder to fuck them while running."

What can I say, they were high, and their brains were not spry,
And the there were cows in the field for miles.
Including Percy, the bull, who's big tug and pull
Resulted in hard-ons and smiles.

So one guy found a cow and got kicked--oh and how!
They found him flat on his ass
Save for the tent in his old baggy jeans,
Which pushed forth like a triumphant staff.

The second guy chose a bit more wisely, I suppose--
He went for the bull in the pen.
Old Percy was stewing, his cud he was chewing
And a surprise he ain't had since that when!

Well, their unusual collusion reached it's ugly conclusion
When finally the high it wore off.
The poor guy snorting cum saw his jeans were undone
And burst into tears and just tore off.

Went into rehab, I heard, though he's spoke not a word
About the ugly ass of rock bottom.
And I've heard that he could not even sport wood
Not since that fracas last autumn!

As for Percy, he's fine, from up front and behind
And he wouldn't hold a grudge if he could.
As he thought to himself during the whole bizarre spell
For that bull its when sex just got good.








Sale at ARe

Okay-- so I'll post that thing about the meth heads and the cow jizz tomorrow, but in the meantime, now that my internet is up, Candy Man is being featured in a half-price sale at ARe!

And, you know, since Lollipop just came out, you might want to pick up Bitter Taffy and Lollipop too!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back List Badump-Bump

So, I owe this one to Shea O'Connor, oh lady fabulous, who sent me the Stand by Me video of, well, "Lollipop!" (badumpbumpbump...)

It was an obvious segue to the new release, and fun, and of course, Amy can't HAVE nice things, so she spent a half an hour on YouTube looking for some of her favorite "book" songs.

Many of them are melancholy-- and some are well known. "Gypsy Biker" for instance is known to anyone who's read Mourning Heaven, because that harmonica riff... ooolf!

But some of them not so much. "Cotton" is a song I've always loved, but coupled with the video of the older couples, it hooked onto Selfie this time.  "Down by the River" is a song I was wild for last year at this time, and it made it's way into Winter Ball. Beneath the Stain has a lot of songs attached to it-- someone even made an iTunes list!  (Which made me very very happy!)  The song I have here was a song I heard after the book was published-- but that didn't mean it didn't just hit me in the feels for Mackey!

And the video for "Past Pending" inspired the character of Nascha in Deep of the Sound. 

So-- you know. Enjoy!  (Riptide doesn't have the skinny little banners, or I would have used them. I just love the chance to use the cutaway of the dog and the cat from Lollipop :-)

 




Lollipop-- yanno, Lollipop









Gypsy Biker-- Mourning Heaven



Cotton-- Selfie








Coats of Ice--Beneath the Stain







Down by the River-- Winter Ball



Past Pending-- Deep of the Sound

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lollipop

Lollipop 

by Amy Lane

A Candy Man Book 

Ezra Kellerman flew across country to see if he had another chance with the man he let slip through his fingers. He didn't. Rico has moved on, but he doesn’t just leave his ex high and dry. Instead, Rico entrusts his family and friends with Ezra’s care. Ezra, confused, hurt, and lost, clings to Rico’s cousin and his boyfriend as the lifelines they are—but their friend Miguel is another story. 

Miguel Rodriguez had great plans and ambition—but a hearty dose of real life crushed those flat. When Miguel finds himself partially in charge of the befuddled, dreamy, healing Ezra, he’s pretty resentful at first. But Ezra’s placid nature and sincere wonder at the simple life Miguel has taken for granted begin to soften Miguel’s hardened shell. Miguel starts to notice that Ezra isn't just amazingly sweet—he’s achingly beautiful as well. Suddenly Miguel is fending off every single man on the planet to give Ezra room to get over Rico—while fighting a burning suspicion that the best thing to help Ezra get over his broken heart is Miguel.

Available at Amazon

Available at DSP

Available at AR

Okay, folks-- it's out, and available at all of the usual outlets--SQUEEEEEEE!!!!  I'm SO excited-- people have really loved this, and if I was tech savvy AT ALL I would have managed to link you to the montage of big dogs and sweet kitties that Gay Book Reviews put up on Twitter, because they SO managed to capture my guys!

Now, this isn't the last addition to The Candy Land books--but it is, thus far, the longest--and the most serious.  Ezra has been hurt, and Miguel dented a little, and both of them take some time getting used to each other.  They're both a little wary and a little reluctant--they are, in fact, as suited as, well, cats and dogs.

But, like the cat and the dog in the picture, once they bond?

They're inseparable.

Now, I know the big news isn't that Ezra and Miguel get their HEA (although I really hope you enjoy reading about it, because it was FUN to write!)  The BIG news is going to be who the new MC is going to be, in the last book Licorice Whip. To that end, I think I'll post an excerpt here-- stay tuned!

OH!

And one more thing-- on WED, THE 27TH , Candy Man is going to be on sale at ARe-- half-priced! So, if you haven't read the whole series yet, Wednesday will be a great time to start!

*  *  *

So, about waffles...

You'll know the scene when you get to it, trust me.

But I just went back and checked my blog, and you know what? I realized that the moment that inspired this scene was not a moment I ever blogged.

So here you go-- an added extra, just for you:

I went to San Diego three times this year, twice by car, and once by plane. The time by plane I went to see Chicken graduate and to fly with her back home.  Which meant I was in a hotel by myself for two mornings, unsupervised.

This. Was a bad. Thing.

The first morning I went to go get a continental breakfast and encountered a problem of being Amy.

They had two waffle irons and one can of cooking spray--which I did not see until after I'd dispensed some waffle batter and poured it on.

The result was...

Well, burnt waffle batter, stuck in all the crevices of a waffle iron, and me, with nothing but plastic utensils.

I chipped away for probably ten minutes before the nice maintenance man came and helped me.  We were melting forks and knives on this thing left and right--and neither of us spoke the same language. (My God, people, I took German in high school.  German. I think about that now and I want to cry. German.  Because, you know, there's just Germans, falling out of the fucking sky in California. I had some stupid misplaced sense of getting in touch with my roots since my maiden name was Rau. Jesus.)  That's okay, he could call me "idiot fat woman" in Spanish and do it with a smile, and I was just so grateful for the help that I didn't care.

He took the waffle iron away to be washed and sprayed the cooking spray on the other one and dumped the waffle stuff, and I hovered around, thinking, "Oh, hey, this guy probably has a fifteen minute break and I just used it up trying to excavate a waffle iron from cement with a plastic fork."  But when he was done, he didn't eat it-- he held it out for me.

The waffle was for me.

I almost cried.

At that moment my phone rang, and I tried to explain the whole incident to Rhys Ford, who went to Chicken's graduation with me because she's an amazing friend.

But her basic takeaway from the whole story was, "Only you, Amy. Seriously. Only you."

Or, as you will see, only Ezra. Seriously. Frickin Ezra!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

No Ducks Yet--Fanficlet from Behind the Curtain

So, I sent out a query for suggestions, and besides SuperBat which I just did, this one seemed to come up a lot. (There was a request for Shane/Mikhail, but since I'm currently writing them a cameo for a book coming out in September, I thought it was safe to ignore that.)  Anyway-- I think they're right. Dawson and Jared from Behind the Curtain probably have a lot of adventures left to explore.

Including moving in June...

*  *  *

"Dawson make him stop."  Amber regarded Dawson from unfriendly kohl-rimmed eyes. "Please. Four months in the pool and he thinks he's fucking Captain America."

Dawson let out a growl and strode into the apartment to kick his boyfriend's ass.

True to the plan, they were moving down to Sacramento for Dawson's last few years in school, in the apartment over Benji and Darian's.  Jared showed up on Dawson's porch in February, exhausted, in pain, and still recovering from knee surgery-- doctors had given him a year, minimum, before he could go without crutches and a brace.

Jared had pitched in for rent out of his savings and spent his time in the pool with a trainer, trying really hard to fix himself before then.

On the one hand, sex, company, and general domestic madly in love bliss.

On the other hand, "Jesus, Jared, calm the fuck down already!"

Jared had one crutch under his armpit and a gathering of clothes on hangers held up in the other hand, and Dawson reached for the suits with a little bit of force.

"Yikes!" Jared yelped, hopping up and down on his good leg. "Dawson, you're gonna knock me over!"

"What was your job!" Dawson demanded.

"I am fully capable of--"

"What was it?"  Augh! It was bad enough Jared had only barely relaxed on his dancer's diet, carefully counting calorie and gelatin content in just enough ratio to help him heal faster while he continued to stomp ruthlessly on carbohydrates so he didn't gain weight. It was bad enough that he spent the time Dawson was in school researching teaching positions and taking business classes and doing cost analysis spreadsheets.  It was just fucking bad enough that he couldn't seem to relax long enough to get better--he had to try to help with the move, when that was the one thing he seriously could do very little about.

"I was supposed to sit at the table, study the road maps, and help you get to and from your new apartment with a minimum of wandering around lost," Jared said with a beat-down sigh.

Dawson nodded sincerely. "That's a good goal."

"I know."

"Because I get lost."

"I am aware."

"Because there are one way streets down there!" Dawson said, his voice dropping with the horror.  Jared had been there the time Dawson had been driving in San Francisco and what had formerly been a two way street had turned into a one way street, and they had been very very lucky Dawson had not shit his pants.  Even Jared admitted he peed a little, although Dawson thought he was just being nice.

"I know," Jared said wearily. "But I already know that part of Sacramento, Dawson. It's not that big a place."

Dawson sighed. "I am aware," he muttered.  He threw the suits on the couch and pulled out one of the kitchen chairs so Jared could sit down amid the boxes stacked with their dishes. He sat down at the table and waited for Jared to situate his crutch, and then took his hand.

"Jared," he said softly, "baby. I am aware that it's hard for you to wait for your body to get better. Don't think I'm not."

Jared closed his mercury blue eyes, his black lashes fanning along his cheekbones.  "It's taking--"

"Exactly as long as it should," Dawson said, feeling this grownup thing in his groin.  Yeah, he wanted the old, mobile Jared back. He remembered what it had been like to watch Jared dance on a darkened stage, the melding of grace and body in music almost spiritual.  But for once, he had patience.  "I want you to think--how stupid would you feel if you tacked another two months on to your sentence by helping us shift a pile of clothes my Dad is coming by to move anyway."

"Dawson..."  Jared scowled some more. "I just... I mean, I just wanted to help."  He grimaced then. "That sounds stupid, like a little kid said it."  He closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm..."

"If you say useless, I'm stealing your crutch."

Admittedly, progress had been slow in the "Jared is a real boy" department--but the lines in the corners of his eyes and his mouth that indicated he was smiling--those were a lot more frequent.

"You'd do it, too."

"You bet your ass. Now my dad's pulling up as we speak, and Benji's coming to help load. So you sit here and do the computer thing, and we'll be out of this shithole in a couple more hours."

Jared regarded him levelly. "I'm going to miss this shithole."

Dawson looked around at the bare walls-- they'd rolled up the butcher paper with the show fliers on it and packed it in a special poster tube already.  The burned spot on the carpet was still there, the dents on the walls from various moves, the one in the formica from when Dawson dropped the big glass casserole dish in March-- they'd left their marks on this place, quite literally, that was for sure.

Dawson swallowed, feeling nostalgic.  "Yeah," he admitted. "I will too."  But Dawson had perspective now.  "But I didn't talk to you for nearly six weeks, and that was bad. Missing you then? That... that's going to leave a hole in my chest for a while. So this place? Yeah. It's got some memories. But you and me, we've got memories to make."

Jared nodded. "Amber bought a bead curtain for her room the other day." Amber's room didn't actually have a door on it.  Dawson wasn't sure what they were going to do if Amber got herself a significant other in the next three years, but for now, the beaded curtain was the privacy she wanted.

"We may have to get a sound proof curtain for her," Dawson said seriously. He had not gotten any quieter during sex.

Jared laughed his quiet, constrained laugh and nodded. "I promise I'll be good," he said, taking Dawson's knuckles to his lips and kissing softly.  "You've got things to do."

Dawson stood up gratefully.  "Put your brainpower to figuring out what we're going to eat tonight," he said seriously. "We ate the last of the cereal with the last of the milk and the last of the fruit this morning, and if my dad brings In&Out like he promised, we're still gonna need sustenance."

Jared grinned.  He was being handled, he knew it, but he apparently appreciated the effort. Good, because Dawson had some nervous energy to expel by moving all of their worldly possessions to a new place.

They didn't have much, actually, and a lot of Jared's stuff was still boxed from when Benji and Dawson had moved him when he'd been half out of his head in the hospital.  A few hours later, Dawson's dad pulled the rental truck up in front of the new apartment, and Benji and Darian got to work helping them move and unpack.

Jared got to sit on a chair in the kitchen and answer Darian's questions about where to put stuff, and Dawson and Benji got to give each other shit about being neighbors.

"Yeah, Dawson, I've been getting lots of sleep since we moved away. Have you thought about how you're never going to have sex again since you've moved here?"

"Yeah, I"m going to invest in some earplugs and duct tape them to your head while you're sleeping.  And I can tell when that starts because you scream 'Points ME!' and start snoring."

Beni started laughing so hard he almost dropped the couch, and Darian, his Disney Princess beloved with giant anime blue eyes and a sweet little heart-shaped face actually spit soda out all over her generously proportioned chest.

"Does he really?" Jared asked, apparently recovered from his need to help to the point of getting in the way. "Does he really yell 'Points me?'"

"Yes!" Darian crowed. "Or at least he would, if he'd thought of it. Last night he yelled 'Touchdown'!"

Dawson's father snorted as he walked in with a big box of books. "That beats 'For three!'"

"I thought you liked basketball," Jared chided gently.

"I do, but if you're saying 'for three', well, there's a lot of those scores in that game. That'll get exhausting quick!"

Dawson had a vision of the last time he and Jared had been in bed together, Jared behind him, thrusting that spot again and again and again until Dawson had made that sound people swore could be heard three counties away.

"We've played that game," he said seriously. "We both won."

Jared blushed and laughed and covered his eyes.

"Thank God I was gone for that one," Amber said seriously. "That... that would not have been fun for me."

"Well, it would be fun if it happened to you," Darian said practically. "We're just going to have to make sure that happens soon."

"For all you know I'm a-sex," Amber muttered, blushing.

"You're not a-sex," Dawson told her. "Not that you couldn't be, but you aren't."

"How would you know that?" she demanded, but smiling.

"Because I've seen what happens when someone you think is cute walks by. There's heavy breathing, flushing, and you make this little 'mnnnn' sound when you get within smelling distance."

"Cedar," Amber muttered. "Girl, boy, doesn't matter--cedar turns me on."

"Yeah," Benji said, patting her shoulder. "But I don't think there's such a thing as perfume-sexual, so you just need to find the right person who smells right."

For a moment there was silence as everybody looked around the new apartment and tried to remember if there was anything else they needed to bring in from Dawson's car, Amber's car, or the moving van.

It was new-- slightly bigger than the old apartment with big bay windows, hardwood floors, and a view of Sacramento that Dawson had to admit was sort of pretty. God, this place had a lot of trees, and the buildings weren't all uniform either--at least not in this part.  It wasn't their big piece of property yet, and Jared was still carving out a place, but it would be a good home for them for the next couple of years.

He felt hope for a new adventure welling up in his chest--he hoped Jared did too.

At that moment, his stomach grumbled, and right after that, there was a knock at the door.

"Pizza?"  The delivery girl was short and chesty, a lot like Amber, but her hair was bobbed around her face and her eyes were blue and guileless.

"Yeah," Jared said, struggling to his feet. "That's us."

"I"ll get it," Dawson told him, and he recognized enough about pride to take Jared's offered wallet.

"I'll help," Amber said, sounding surprisingly engaged.

After they took the pizza and the sodas from the delivery girl, and she and Amber had exchanged pleasantries and a wish to meet again, Amber hummed happily to herself.

"What?" Darian asked, setting paper plates out on the table, which was the one thing not covered with boxes.

"She smelled like cedar."

There was general laughter, and underneath it, Dawson nudged Jared on the shoulder. "Pizza," he said quietly. "Good move!"

Jared smiled around a bite of the thin-crust flat-bread he was eating. It wasn't pizza, no--but it was a good attempt to blend in.

"You told me to rustle up food," he said mildly.

"You know, there's a gym nearby," Dawson said, chewing on his actual pizza. "And a pool--"

"And a dance floor, and a way to get certified teaching aerobics--yeah, Dawson. I did my research too."

Dawson had the grace to blush.  "This is a good place," he said, willing Jared to believe with him.

"No ducks yet," Jared said apologetically.  "But, you know--"

"We can practice scaring them until that happens," Dawson said. This was serious. Dogs and ducks--they would get there, one step at a time.

"Practice is important," Jared said, smiling that quiet smile.

Dawson had never loved practicing anything as much as he loved practicing scaring imaginary ducks.



Friday, January 22, 2016

Reasons, Reasons, Reasons...

Squish was not happy when she got into car today.

"The teacher didn't like my thesis statement for my essay!"

"Well, what was your thesis?"

"Books are entertainment."

"Hmm... well, it's a little broad. And it's the truth. So, you know."

"I hate essays," she humphed.

"You love essays," I told her, laughing as I drove.

"I do not."

"You do too-- you write them all the time."

"No I don't!"

"Sure you do. Like, when you say 'Mommm... I think we should have Noodles for dinner today.  Because reasons reasons reasons, and then Squishie gets her way.'"

She laughed. "Reasons reasons reasons?"

"Yeah. Like the teacher says-- you have to have three reasons. And you always have three reasons.  Like, Mommy's tired, and Mommy cooked all week, and it was late and you didn't want me to cook after dance lessons--like, reasons."

"Heh heh heh.  Uh huh! And then I get my way!"

I kept driving, and then we pulled in front of ZoomBoy's school, and parked to wait for him to get out of chess club, and she reminded me, "Mom-- we need to watch the rest of that Supernatural episode!"

"Yes, I know."

"Sam was such a sad kid, wasn't he?"

"Yeah, but Dean was more sad," I told her-- cause, hey. I'm a Dean girl.

"Why?"

"Well, because Dean always had to look after Sam. Dean was stuck in hotel rooms for a long time watching his little brother--and he had to give up his cereal and any relationships with anyone but his family. Every time he had a friend or a girl friend, his Dad came back into town and he had to leave. And Sam got to go to school for four years, but Dean was never able to escape the idea that this was his job."

"Mom?"

"Yeah?"

"Reasons reasons reasons, and then Mommy's right."

"Yup.  That's how you write an essay.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Traveling Plans

Okay-- so last year was a FLURRY of traveling.  I think I listed all of the places in my Christmas letter, and in addition to San Diego--three times--and San Francisco--twice--there was also Dallas, Florida, and New York.

Oi!

This year, not so much.

If ALA is in San Francisco again, I may go sign books there--and I'll definitely be attending Yaoi-Con there in the fall.

But other than that?

Right now my plans are simple:

Coastal Magic--Daytona Beach, February 4-7 

Romantic Times-- Las Vegas, April 12-17

RWA--San Diego, July 13-16

And that's pretty much all.

My reasons for cutting back are, well,

A. Financial--Last year was insane and our coffers need to recoup.

B. Work based-- 260,000 of the words I wrote in 2015 are being released in 2017. If I need to feed the family-and pay our taxes!--I need to actually write--which is hard and stressful to do on the road.

C. Emotional

I love travel--and I'm getting decent at it.  But by the end of GRL last year, I got home and... slept. And cried. And slept. I didn't feel myself until the end of November, which was right before Christmas.

My kids need more of me than this--so it's my job to provide.

But of course, the upside is that I get to write more books, and the sequel to Lollipop  (Licorice Whip) is more than halfway complete.  In the meantime, Lollipop is out on Monday--and yeah. Getting excited.

You can pre-buy it at ARe, Amazon, and DSP-- and some reviews are popping up on GR. 

So far? People agree that it's pretty damned sweet :-)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dogs in the Corner

Me: Geoffie! Johnnie!  You're driving me crazy! What do you have to say for yourselves?

Geoffie:  But... but there was NO WALKIES!

Me: There was SOME walkies--

Johnnie: There was TOO MANY walkies!

Me: It was a quarter of a mile, Johnnie.

Johnnie: Magic sky water. Did you forget the magic sky water? You went INTO THE DELUGE of magic sky water, and the house was RIGHT THERE? I was all, "What're you doing, mom, the house is RIGHT THERE!" but no, you had to walk into the magic sky water.

Me: You needed a walk.

Johnnie: It made the poop go back up.

Me: That's not what the bottom of my shoes say!

Johnnie: I kept it in just for them. See? Saved you a step.

Me: You're very smart.  Geoffie!

Geoffie: Snacks?

Me: No.

Geoffie: SNACKS!

Me: Really?

Geoffie: There were NO butt cookies-- gimme snacks.

Me: Fine.

Geoffie: Snacks?

Me: Fine.

Geoffie: Snacks?

Me: This is your last one.

Geoffie: Snacks? Snacks? Snacks? Snacks? Snacks?

Me: NO! Man, knock it off-- go to your corner.

Geoffie: Corner? Where corner? Wait! Watch me do--

Me: No no no no--

Geoffie: But he makes the best--

Me: No no no no no--

Dogs: Rawr bite yip run twirl

Me: Assholes!

Dogs: Rawr bite yip run twirl

Me: Assholes!

Dogs: Rawr bite yip run twirl

Me: ASSHOLES! STOP IT!  Now apologize.

Johnnie: I'm sorry, i should be dead.

Me: No, no-- not like that. Just tell Geoffie you're sorry.

Johnnie: I'm sorry I threw you into the wall, but you shouldn't have bit my penis.

Me: Geoffie, did you hear that?

Geoffie: Did you hear? Did you hear the sound he made when I bit his penis?

Me: I don't want to talk about--

Geoffie: It was like Snoopy getting tagged in the BALLS, man! Snoopy! Balls! Auuuuughhhh!!! It was GREAT! I'm going to bite his penis again!

Me: NO!

Geoffie: Hold me!

Me: No!

Geoffie: Walkies?

Me: It's eleven at night.

Geoffie: Walkies?

Johnnie: Walkies?

Me: Magic sky water, assholes, remember?

Geoffie: Want me to bite your penis again, Jonnie?

Johnnie: Yeah, sure, that was fun!

Dogs: rawr bite yip twirl

Me: *sigh* I'm so glad it's raining again, but tomorrow, we get walkies, and that is a good thing too...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Change? We Fear Change!




Thanks, M/M Romance Group!




(Although it is going to tickle me to be the winner of an award for Best Sex Industry books for a very long time. It might even help to make me a cooler mom-- you never know ;-)

Anyway...

Mate did a very nice thing for me today.  He moved my office from the kitchen table to the computer desk in the corner of the living room, and on the one hand, yayayayay!  I am not LOOKING AT THE FRIDGE when I'm bored!

On the other hand... Change? I fear change.

The kitchen table is still a mess though, and I am gradually schlepping things I CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT to my new digs. It's... a transition.

Mate and I are not generally good with transitions.

We dislike them. We grow feral, surrounding ourselves with clothes that don't fit, shoes we don't wear, bills we have paid but don't want to get rid of...

We fear change.

But, yanno?

I have a desk. That's not in the kitchen. Maybe I can clear out some of the yarn boxes and the books... and, you know. Maybe, put my office equipment here.

Little change.

Incremental changes.

Change can be good.

But first I need to do something about this back corner--because instead of the refrigerator, I'm staring at the great beyond, and that's no bueno.

But... I can change it.  Right? Can I change it?

*contemplates change*

A Pinch of This or That

1.  ZoomBoy had a soccer game today-- they tied, 4-4, but the best moment by far was watching Mate when they were down 3-0.  He buried his face in his arms and wished for teleportation-- I could tell, and I was across the arena.  He popped up though, and the boys rallied, but he doesn't often show despair. I was charmed.

2.  The dogs and I rambled for a mile and a quarter, and yet, at eleven o'clock at night, they were all-systems go and "LET'S GET READY TO RUMMMMMMMBLLLLLLLLEEE!!!!"  I have a clear image of Geoffie hauling ass down the hallway, riding the rug to slam into the wall, and then tumbling back to haul ass back into the living room, tongue flying behind her, so she could body tackle her nemesis, Jonnie. Now, Mary-my-Mary has actually HEARD the noises Jonnie makes when they're fighting. He sounds like a Peanuts character getting kneed in the groin. I have no other way to describe it. On the whole? It's high hilarity--but the kids have learned to fall asleep to the soothing strains of small-dog WWF cage matches in the living room. Bodes well for life in the dorms.

3.  TOMORROW IS A DAY OFF!  I asked Mate if he wants to A. Go to the movies or B. Clean out the garage.  I have the feeling that at around 1:00 pm, it's going to be C. Get the hell off the couch, for anything, dammit, anything, let's just not sit around here again!

4. The M/M group on GR announced their yearly awards today, and I won some incidentals, but Mary-my-Mary KICKED ASS with a Hall-of-Fame victory, and Rhys Ford did CONSIDERABLY well for herself, and seriously, I'm just going to park my weak ass next to them and bask in their glow. *pulls up a chair*  C'mon, bask with me. They won't mind. They're such awesome people, they'll share all the glow they got.

5.  My dad came to watch ZB play, and he sat next to me as I was sitting next to the soccer mom mafia, and he must have felt a little intimidated, because he was very well behaved and didn't try to provoke me at all. It wasn't until we got outside and I pointed to the Supernatural medallion (the one they use to ward off possession) on the back of the minivan (to ward off repossession.) Now, I put stuff on the back of my minivans mostly for identification, because we buy standard vehicles and it makes them easier to spot in parking lots. Of course, the last minivan got pretty political by the end ----if anyone remembers the post where the guy I accidentally cut off stuck his head out of the passenger's side of his van and screamed "YOU FUCKING CUNT OBAMA IS A FUCKING ASSHOLE!!!"  as we drove side by side down the street.  Also, post-its on my windshield. Also, my parents yelling at me for supporting Obamacare.  Even when it proved to be a success.  So, Mate, not wanting his children to be endangered by our liberalism in this fucking GOP conservative redneck cesspool, asked for me to keep our politics off the back of the vehicle. The SPN medallion is it, and it playfully points to us as pagans and liberals, but only to people who also watch the show.

  But my dad, wishing to jerk my chain, saw the sticker and said, "I'm going to get a bumper sticker that says 'Nuke Syria.'"

"Bad daddy!"

"No! It's going to say, 'Nuke the entire Middle-East!'"

"ZoomBoy, everything your grandfather says about politics is bad. All of it. Pure bullshit. Listen to Comedy Central before you listen to grandpa."

My dad cackled like he'd done his job, but my kid is no fool.  He's going to watch Chris Hardwick and Trevor Noah tomorrow and realize that grandpa is a crazy old coot, and I am going to get the last laugh.

Until I have grandchildren of my own, of course--if my parents' generation doesn't kill us all before that!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Redirecting the Blast-- A Racing for the Sun Ficlet

So, the trip to Reno was lovely, thank you. We ate a very expensive meal (but we actually brought the leftovers home on the train and had them for dinner, so maybe it was only a mildly expensive pair of meals ;-) and enjoyed the snow. As I posted on Twitter, I was highly amused when, as the train passed over Donner Lake, the conductor told us over the intercom that the settlers of the Donner Party experienced "great tribulations" over a rough winter.  Anyone who's been raised in California or Nevada is aware that "great tribulations" is code for "ate each other"-- understatement is our friend. 

Anyway--- so, speaking of understatement, I revisit one of my favorite laconic heroes today: Jasper Anderson Atchison.  People call him Ace.

*  *  *
-- Racing for the Sun Ficlet

There's things you have to remember about living with a ticking time bomb.

Thing the first-- just cause you can't hear it ticking doesn't mean the mechanism ain't a "go".

Thing the second-- just cause the bomb will probably not go off when you're in the room don't mean you won't get hurt.

Thing the third-- it's possible to control the blast.

Or so I hoped. Cause the kid holding the gun at Alma's head was looking scared and shaky--and Sonny was looking like a dirty bomb.

The day had started out okay-- since them doings in Bakersfield a year ago, Sonny and I been laying' low. As soon as he got out of the hospital, we came back to our little gas station in Victoriana and continued doing what we'd been doing before--making a life. I still drove the souped up Ford, but we only topped 150 out in the dessert, Sonny by my side, as the purple shadows lowered.  No more racing, like I promised him, and the money from my last... adventure... had kept us going until we made enough business to keep us in the black.

It also provided enough money for a college fund for Alma, our part time help. Since she'd stopped wearing tight titty blouses and a truckload of makeup, she'd decided she was gonna be a good girl. I was looking for words to tell her that someday, right time, right people, she could wear whatever she goddammed pleased, but for right now, "good girl" meant schooling, and Sonny and me were all for that. So was Jai, our giant gay Russian enforcer who would have stayed with us for minimum wage, but was now fiercely loyal since we paid him enough to drive to Vegas once in a while to get laid.

Jai was very protective of Sonny and Alma.  Once he figured out that I killed the guy that hurt Sonny, I had the feeling he would have blown me every day and polished my rim to boot, except that would have meant me cheating on Sonny, and, well, that left him in something of a quandary. Let's just say Jai woulda done unspeakable things for the three of us and leave it at that.

Well, I wished I coulda left it at that.

Sonny and Jai were under a Ford F150 in the auto bay, dicking around with a transmission that should have been shot, burned, and buried about ten years before, and I was going over the ordering with Alma.

She squinted through the small service window at their feet sticking out under the truck and listened to their bickering. Sonny spoke redneck and Jai spoke redneck with a thick Russian accent and they were both talking about car parts using pet names developed over nearly a year and a half of working together.

"That don't sound like English," Alma said after a moment or two of us just staring at them and listening.

"They're gonna ship one of those guys who invent space languages out here to figure out what the fuck that is," I agreed. "Think they'll give us money?"

Alma rolled her eyes. "They don't pay dumbshits for being stupid," she said.  "But I need my mommy not to come hear them. She'll think that stuff I do at school, I'm doing it wrong."

At that moment a dying Kia Sportage came chugging into the lot, blowing black smoke and rattling loud enough to echo off the distant mountains.  As Alma and I stared--and Sonny and Jai shoved out from under the truck in the bay, a thin kid got out wearing a black hoodie, black track pants, and black tennishoes in the 110 degree heat.

I stared. The last time I'd worn an outfit like that, I'd killed a man.

The kid was holding a hand to his side and blood was dripping down to the white foam tread of his trainer, and I figured this kid was not that far off from that level of desperate.

"Get down," I said to Alma.

"But--"

"Just get down under the counter, I don't want him seeing you!" Because she was a girl, and desperate men preyed on the weak.  She wasn't weak, but he didn't know that.

"I need someone out here!" the kid shouted. "Someone get out here and fix my fuckin' car!"

I shot a look behind me to the auto bay and shook my head at Jai and Sonny to let me take care of this. Sad, yes, but true--I really am their best bet in a crisis.  My hands at my sides, palms out, my eyes level, movements steady, I took a few steps out of the cashier's cubicle and then out into the searing desert sun.

"I see you," I said calmly. "And I see your car. And you're both banged up some.  Honestly, I think some bandages and antiseptic, you got a better chance than the car."

The kid swallowed and looked desperately behind him, like he was expecting retribution to be riding down his ass with cherry lights on top. "I... I can't do hospitals," he said, voice weepy. "And... and I gotta get this money to a friend..."  His voice cracked. "She's..."  He reached behind him and pulled out the gun I'd just known had been tucked in the back of his pants. "It doesn't matter, man. Just fix the goddamned car!"

"Okay," I said, hands still out. "But I'm going to have to drive it into the bay. Do you want to sit next to me while I do that or--"

"Wait--who was that?"

I didn't look. "Who was what?"

"That girl-- yeah, you go ahead and drive the car into the bay, I'll be right there with the gun pointed at that girl!"

"There is no girl," I said in my strongest voice, because maybe Alma would get the fuck back down and I could have driven the car to San Diego and crashed it into the police station which was my plan.

The shot went wide--as he'd meant it to--but still. The weapon discharged into the desert to my left, and it doesn't matter how many times you hear them or how many times you fire them, a gun report should do something to a man, or he's forgotten why he's alive.

"Move the fuckin' car!" he yelled, and then, never turning his back to me with that gun, he edged himself alongside the cashier's cubicle and into the door I'd just come out of. Alma was standing by that time, her hands up, mouthing, "I'm sorry, Ace" at me like that was gonna help if she got her brains blown to kingdom come.

I moved the car, making the assessment as it rattled into the bay. Blown gasket, blown pistons, hole in the radiator, transmission fluid a fuckin' memory. This thing should not have been running.

It gave it's last gasp as I pulled up to the bay and I coasted it in next to the truck and waited for Sonny and Jai to poke themselves back from under the truck. Smart boys.

"He's got a gun," Sonny muttered. "In there with Alma!"

"Jai, go fetch Sonny's car, okay?"

"What?"

"What in the--"

I held up my hand.  "He's hurt and he's desperate," I said levelly. "We're going to give him transportation and let him get the fuck out of here.  Odds are good, he's going to pass out in twenty minutes anyway, and if he's not here, he can't hurt us."

"But someone on the road--" Sonny said, and my heart warmed. These last two years, he'd grown a little. Part of that growing meant he didn't just look at me, or even just Alma and Jai.  He looked a little bigger now.

But we couldn't.

"Look-- just get him the car. Maybe I can get rid of the gun and we can get him to the hospital or something, but first, let's get him out of there with Alma!"

BAM!

If I hadn't just taken my morning constitutional, I swear it would have been in my shorts.  But I saw the sun shining through the hole in the auto bay, and realized he'd fired over our heads.

"What're you doing'!" he screamed, and I glared at Jai to go do what I said, then turned and approached the cashier's cubicle, palms out.

"You're car's done for," I told him. "We're getting you one that runs."

"What?"  I took a few more steps so I could see them.  He had his arm around Alma's shoulders, and she was holding onto his wrist and glaring at him. I suspected that if he pointed the gun anywhere but her one more time, he was going to be bleeding a damned sight more than he already was.

"Your car--last time I saw something like that, it took us a month and special parts flown in. It's fuckin' toast. We're getting you my boyfriend's car, so you can get the fuck out of our lives."

His face crumpled. "But that would be stealing," he said nakedly. "I'm no thief."

"What in the fuck did he just say?"

Oh God-- Sonny was right behind me, and I stepped to the right in an attempt to block him.

"Who's that?" the kid asked in tears. "What does he want?"

"You're not a thief?  You come in here and hold a gun to a sixteen year old kid, and you think you're some kind of a hero?"

Oh God.

"That," I said distinctly, "is my boyfriend, who's about to give up his car so you can get your gun away from our friend."

"I just need a fuckin' car!" the kid cried. "Man, they got my sister, and I had to run the drugs to Vegas and then get back with the money, but the guys in Vegas had guns, and they started shooting and the guys in Chula Vista got my sister and--"  He let out a little whimper then, and the arm with the gun fell.

Alma put one fist in the other and elbowed him right in the chest and that was when the gun went off. I felt a ripping pain through my leg but that didn't stop me from grabbing Sonny as he went hauling into the tiny cubicle with nothing but a tire iron in his hand. He caught me in the head with his upward swing and that did it.  I went down and didn't wake up for twenty minutes.

"Ace?"

I was lying on my back in our little house, with a familiar weight on my chest and a small tongue licking my cheek.  "Duke?" I said, confused. The Chihuahua didn't usually talk.

"No, dammit, it's me."

I looked up at Sonny who was sitting, red eyed and repentant, on the floor next to the couch.

"Where's Alma?"

"She's fine. We closed up shop and her mom came and got her. She'll be back in tomorrow."

My head ached fiercely and I stared at him. "She'll be what?"

"Was really sweet. Kept thanking us for trying to save her. Said it was real nice how we gave up my car to make sure she was okay."

I was not tracking. "The kid...?" God. Poor kid. Desperation did not make people do nice things--but he'd appalled by the realization that he was holding a gun to a young girl. Probably hadn't thought of her as a person before that. Of course, if he'd hurt Alma, or Sonny, I would have beaten his brains to powder and not given a shit.

"Jai wrapped his side--through and through, so, he should be fine if he gets antibiotics. Then he put the kid and the drugs into my car and took off."

I  tried to process this. "Took... off?  In your car?"

Sonny nodded soberly. "I think... Ace, I think as long as the kid and his sister are okay, we'd better not ask too much about what happens after that, okay?"

Oh Lord. This wrong side of the law thing got murky.  "The kid's going to be okay?"

"Yeah. You went down and he thought he'd shot you, and he just fell apart. Dropped the gun, cried.  I got you into the house and checked your leg--it was a graze, by the way."  As he said it, I could feel the stinging pain of it. Hurt-- like a sumbitch too--but not as much as my head.

"Jesus, you really clocked me," I mumbled.

Sonny nodded. "I did." He put a bag of ice on my temple where the tire-iron had caught me hardest, and the cold woke me up.  "You need to stay awake, now that you're up. I looked shit up on the computer--we've got some Tylenol with Codeine, and you can have that as soon as you sit up."

I struggled up, holding the ice compress to my head with one hand and moving Duke to my lap with the other.  "Oh dear God," I muttered. "This hurts. I remember this--this is no good."

"Yeah."  Sonny let out a breath and thrust two tablets into my hand and followed it up with water. I felt better after I drank the water, even, and figured once the pain killers kicked in, I might be okay.  For a moment, I was quiet, and the only sounds in our little house were my breathing and Duke's little dog whimpers as he relocated.

"I'm sorry," Sonny said quietly. He'd climbed up on the couch when I hadn't been paying attention, and I lifted my arm so he could put his head on my shoulder. His blond hair had grown shaggy in recent months, and I liked it that way. He didn't look vulnerable or naked like he had when it had been shaved down to his scalp.

"Was an accident," I said.

"Yeah, but the coming unglued part wasn't. That was me just being me," he said bitterly. "You had that kid calming down, and I just... you and Alma and the fucking gun and I lost it."

I laughed a little. "Yeah, but you've lost it worse."  He had. He wasn't great with people--never would be. "And you were afraid for Alma, and you didn't used to give a shit."

"But not for a long time," he reminded me soberly.

"Yeah. I know. But makes me proud still. You were doing what I was doing, Sonny. Your best for your people."

He sighed again. "I... I just gotta think better, you know?"

"Well, I put myself in the damned booth. I just thought... you know..."

"If we gave him the car he'd go the fuck away?"

"Well, yeah."  Because cause and effect, right?

"Well it worked. He went the fuck away."  And right before I was going to ask about Jai, his phone buzzed.  He reached into his pocket and pulled it out and grunted.  "Jai's fine," he said. "Took the kid to the hospital."  The phone pinged.  "And I need to call the police and report my car stolen."

My eyes widened, sore head or not.  "Here," I said, flailing for my coveralls on the floor next to the couch.  "Let me use my phone."

I spun a story, oh yes I did. How the thief shot at me and missed then whacked me on the head, and how we'd had the keys in Sonny's little beater Corolla so we could move it around easy, and Sonny found me after he got back from the AM/PM across the street with sodas and took me inside to treat me.

The cops took it down, every word, the wound on my head and my leg to verify, and the car was registered all legal like.  The local cops took down the info and grunted, and asked me if I wanted to go to the doctors, but I wasn't excited about that, so they left me alone.

As soon as they were gone I collapsed on the couch and called Alma.

"Alma?"

"Mr. Ace?"

"You didn't work today."

"I'll tell mommy.  Do I work tomorrow?"

"Do you still want to?"  Because Jesus. 

"You gave up your car for me. I think Jai's killing people. I'm safe there. It's good."

She hung up and I had to give the girl credit for practicality. I was a two term veteran and I didn't think I could have been so casual.

Sonny had kicked up the air conditioning in the house, and the sun was starting to go down by the time it was all done, and I was fine with sitting around in my boxers and letting television wash over me like the sea.  Sonny was fine with feeding me and making sure I didn't puke and petting me every now and then too.

Into that quiet, Sonny said, "So, where do you think Jai's gonna hide the bodies?"

I grunted. "Sonny, that has got to be a question we never, ever ask him, okay?"

Sonny nodded soberly, but his lips were twisted up. "He said he got the girl away from the bad guys.  Think he's like a super hero?"

"Dead Pool or the Punisher?"  Because hadn't those guys been sort of dark and below the law?

"Yeah!" Sonny said, eyes big. "We know Dead Pool!"

I didn't remind him that I'd been the Punisher a year and a half ago and that it wasn't that glamorous.  Then he said, "But I don't care how many bodies he's buried, he's still not half the hero you are, for trying not to let things go south."  He kissed my cheek then and I closed my eyes tiredly.  So, okay. There was still blood and still crime, and still shit we did not plan on, but at least Sonny appreciated trying not to kill people. And hey--I'd been out for twenty minutes, and he'd apparently kept his cool.

I was calling it a win.

But I was going to have to be really careful about not dying until I was sure he'd take that as well as he'd take knocking me on my ass for twenty minutes. You just never knew.











Friday, January 15, 2016

Score-- Boychildren 0, Girlchildren 2

And, ladies and gentlemen, today's game went as follows...

*  This morning, as I was working, Big T came in. Now, granted he's a bit stoned these days because he had to get his gum grafted to his gum (and OUCH!) so, he talked to me and I told him I was busy and he talked and I told him, "You know, doing the dishes doesn't count as heavy lifting!"

"Have you given any thought to converting to paper plates?"

"NO! I already feel horrible about the amount of takeout we actually eat. Paper plates are bad for the environment!"

"Well so is washing dishes!"

"Well deforestation is causing the drought. I'm not going to destroy any more trees because you're feeling lazy!"

"Bite me."

He wandered out.

And there you go, children, don't expect mommy not to be a big fat bitch if you get up in her grill when she's working.

*  After school, ZB had a tearful confession about a missing book report and blown off homework and how he was unworthy. I told him to go to his room and write a list of five things he needs to do in order to not disappoint us or himself this semester.

Number one on the list was "Not lie about having homework done."

*dark cloud of wrath forming as mommy makes plots happen*

Amen to that.

*  Squish got home, sat down, did her homework, and packed for tomorrow's night at grandma's like a champion.

*  Chicken texted me a picture of her cat hugging her arm as the asshole cat fell asleep.

Clearly, the girls are winning and the boys really have to step of their game.

So-- going to Reno with my beloved Mate on the train tomorrow. It's a gift from my parents (and when they do things like this I resolve to whine about my parents no more forever) for Christmas.  So, there shall probably be fanfic Saturday in the early Sunday morning--but don't despair, there WILL be some sort of fanfic.

I am, as always, open to bribery, suggestions, gifs, comics, and flattery.

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

5 Unrelated Things With Pictures











1. This is still not enough coffee. Now you know.











 2. Fans are the bestest. This is what happens when Mary Calmes starts a debate over who's more of a douche--Scott from Johnnies or Robbie from Candy Man. And then the words "code black angst" are thrown around. Yes. Mary-- I blame you. 













3.  I posted this on Twitter several weeks ago. It still doesn't inspire me to want seafood--and, in fact, I have a burning urge to see Independence Day 2, so I know those things have been conquered once and for all. 













4. The King's Game. Or, as those of us who love the Kings, hate losing, and have read my books call it: Waiting for Karcek.















5. I'm making some worsted weight socks with cables. I love them--but they're made for a size medium foot. I'm pretty sure the person they're for will guess before they show up in the mail, but we'll have to see.