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

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Father's Day, 2018

So, going to get political.

You're going to see a lot of idiot politicians tomorrow--Republican ones--who claim to espouse family values--get on social media and say, "I'm a father and I'm proud."

Today my husband helped volunteer--like he always does--as a Security Dad for our dance recital. And he hauled shit and sold tickets and carried shit and made sure nobody went into the designated areas that had kids in them, so the kids could be safe and returned to their parents.

More months a year than not, he coaches kids and he keeps track of their progress in soccer, and tries to mentor the best he can and is calm and cheerful and excited about something that he thinks will make kids' lives happier as they grow up.

When I'm home he's excited to see me, and is tender when people aren't looking and tries to help me when I'm busy and sits on the couch and lets the kids hang on him and talks to them and plays with them and does all of the wonderful things that make him my Mate.  He only yells a little, sometimes, and mostly when he's hangry.

He is kind to EVERYBODY'S children.

He is devoted to his own.

He would no sooner rip a baby out of his parents' arms in the name of "thou shalt follow stupid rules" as he would throw his own kid in front of a bus.

He'd throw himself in front of the bus first.

He'd throw himself in front of the bureaucrat first.

To anyone who thinks it's okay, what our country is doing, has been doing, to immigrants and their families...

Fuck you.

Get off my timeline.

If you're a relative, don't call me. Don't talk to me. Don't break my heart by showing me the monster you are.

If you're a neighbor, know this is how I feel about you.

My husband is a good father. The best. He doesn't just take care of his own children. He takes care of the children in his world, because he believes that's a good thing. He doesn't do it because his magic sky daddy told him it was good, he does it because he's a good man.

Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Donald Trump, all those sociopaths who would shoot a child in cold blood if they thought "the bible told them so" and thus could get away with it--

They are monsters. They are abominations. They are the evil that men become when they lose touch with what it means to be men.

I'm so ashamed of my country right now. I'm ashamed of my neighbors, and the few family members who think racism and xenophobia and CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN THE UNITED STATES are all hunky dory and the way we should keep doing things.

But I'm damned proud of my husband.

You'll see the bureaucrats and the demagogues and the hypocrites and the Republicans all try to pay lip service to family values on Father's Day. They're full of shit and bile and evil and scabrous malignant cankerous bug feces that masquerade as brain cells.

My husband is a real man, and a real father, and he reminds me, in the face of these  monstrously awful fucknugget excuses for humanity, that good people can exist, and work hard, and give up their free time and their comfort, not just for their own children but for the children in their world.

Happy Father's Day, 2018.

If you've got a person in your life that deserves love on this day, show it to them. In this world right now, we need to give every bit of credit where credit is due.

Just remember that the people who think it's okay to irrevocably damage other people's children are not good fathers. They're monsters. And they're raising monstrous people in a monstrous society.

And people who make monsters are usually devoured by them.

That's a thing that will never change.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Help! My dogs have the derpies!

So, we're in the home stretch for a couple of things--

*  Finishing HomeBird

* First edit of Hiding the Moon

*  Filling out SCADS of paperwork

*  The kids' recital is Saturday

And while I'm riding the fine edge of exhaustion, none of it is particularly exciting to relate to you, but I DO have a brief story to tell.

You may notice Guest Dog Gibbs to the far left there. Now, Gibbs got to our house very well trained. All you'd have to do was say, "Gibby! Crate!" and she'd go to bed.

But see, I've been going to bed much later than Gibby is used to. So I was working last night until 2:30 a.m., and my own dogs had settled down on the couch and the beds at my feet. They're comfy with that, it's their jam. But Gibby doesn't know the rules.

I mean, she thinks she knows the rules. She knows how to walk on a leash, and she knows how to be a good dog in public.

My dogs, uh, don't.

So we'll be walking and I'm tightening the leash and giving my dogs verbal cues about being good dogs, and good dogs don't bark at other dogs, and Gibby is looking at me with this terrible confusion. She's like, "I don't understand what they're doing!"

And last night was like that. I was sucked into my book and I didn't pay attention and she didn't understand what I was doing.

So I was out here under the lights and, hey, there was a perfectly nice man asleep in the dark and she figures, "Hey! I'll do that!"

Until 2:30--when I realized she wasn't there.

And I lost my shit. I mean, she's small, she's helpless, she's clueless-- what if she'd gone outside and not come back? What if she'd gotten stuck? Oh my God--I'd lost a dog in a closed house.

I started ripping through the house, calling her name, waking the kids up, and finally waking Mate up.

"Mate! Have you seen Gibby?"

"What time is it?"

"I don't know!" (It was 2:30 in the fucking morning--I knew that!)  "She disappeared!"

On impulse I started going through the laundry next to the bed, because the cat slept there sometimes, and accidentally tossed her up on the bed when I pulled up a T-shirt.  She yelped and went trotting across the bed, and then went into her crate when I sent her.

I turned off all the lights and went to bed, and she whimpered, poor baby. She'd been happy. She'd been in the dark, happy, a nice person nearby, and now she was in the box? And worse, her new pack got to sleep in the room?

*sigh*

When I nap she sleeps with me--and the other dogs. I may have to uncrate her, because she really was sad.

So anyway, Mate got up this morning and hopped into the shower, and his phone started going off in the living room. Louder. And louder. And louder.  I stumbled out of bed and t urned it off, then stumbled back, pulling the covers over my head. Ugh! The day star! It burned!

Mate got out of the shower and I whined.  "Your phone! Oh God! Your phone!"

"I'm sorry."

"It's six in the morning!"

"You woke me up at two in the morning for the frickin' dog."

"I'm sorry."

"What in the hell."

"Go away and leave me alone to my fate. I'm dying."

"Sure you are.  Bye bye, I love you."

"Love you too. I'll wake up when it's civilized and walk the dogs."

I did. And it was hot, of course, by 10:30 in the morning.

So poor Gibby.

Her one photo op in all of this, and she finally fits in with the other dogs.

She's as derpy as they come.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Pierce and Hal Ficlet: Coming Home

This is the final Road Trip Ficlet, and rounds up the "post book" material that's going into the new edition of Regret Me Not this Christmas!

Coming Home 

The absence of snow had made the last three days of driving much easier.  Hal had made good time after Oklahoma and through Texas, and he'd managed to stop at some nice hotels in between, so Pierce was in pretty good shape as they pulled off of Highway 80 and negotiated their way through a series of surface streets and small suburbs.

"Historic Fair Oaks?" Hal asked, squinting in the dark. It was eight o'clock at night, and Hal was cooked and done. He'd thought he could maintain enthusiasm about anything forever, but the last week of driving had burnt him to the bone.

"It looks more historic in the light. Turn right here," Pierce said, eagerness tinting his voice. "And slow, or you'll miss Toyon. Okay-- there. Turn right. And left. And... right. Into that driveway there."

Hal's first thought was that Pierce hadn't been kidding when he'd said the place was "little"--but then, Hal had realized that a lot of the land plots in California were smaller than they were in Florida or even in the other states they'd driven through.

These houses, off the road, often hidden in driveway dips or up hills behind heavy foliage, weren't mansions, and Pierce's was no exception. Hal parked in the carport, noting there were no other cars there at all.

"It's weird that you don't have a car," he said bluntly, yawning and stretching as he turned off the ignition.

"Well, my last car was the truck I wrecked," Pierce admitted, looking at the house in the thin winter light. "It's weird how familiar it looks, when my whole life changed."

Hal tried to look at the place objectively, after fantasizing about it for nearly two months. It was small--Pierce said three bedrooms--but the siding was a dark blue that wasn't your everyday sort of color, even in the moonlight. The trim was white, and bougainvillea grew over the porch railing and around the support posts, giving it the feeling of being a secret cottage, hidden in lush vegetation.

"There's a door from the carport," Pierce said, sounding as uncertain as Hal felt. "Let's just get the luggage inside and see what we're dealing with bed wise." He paused, smiling slightly. "Think--we can sleep as long as I can manage it tomorrow. And we have no place to go forever."

Hal giggled, a little hysterically. "I can stay here forever. That's not a hardship. Lead the way, o captain--I'll get the roller bags."

Pierce took his time, getting out of the car slowly and stretching in the chill air. Of course, after the east coast, it was practically balmy--but after Florida, it was frigid. Hal decided he liked the way the weather sort of sat in the middle, and proceeded to drag all their luggage out while Pierce pulled his keys from his pockets and opened the door.

Lights came on inside the house, and Hal heard Pierce's excited exclamation as he rolled the first two bags in.

"Oh wow! Cynthia totally came through!"

"Cause that's what I want to hear when we arrive," Hal muttered to himself, and then walked into the bedroom and totally took back every mean thought he'd ever had about Pierce's ex. "New bed?" he asked, feeling dumb.

"New bed," Pierce said, sitting on top of of the king sized sled-style bed and bouncing. "And it's--" He yawned. "Perfect."

It was already made--probably in the last week--with mint green sheets and a dark green comforter. The frame was sturdy oak, and Hal could tell from Pierce's delight that the mattress was bouncy as hell.

"Get ready for bed then," Hal told him, some of the anti-climax easing up. He went out to the car and gathered the rest of the bags, and when he got back, Pierce was standing in front of the bed in his boxers, going through the stretching regime Hal had taught him before they'd left.

Hal stood for a moment and watched him finish, every muscle in his body straining, a look of intense concentration on his face.

"You've gotten so much better at that," Hal said, feeling dreamy and exhausted and odd.

Pierce looked up from a particularly painful stretch and smiled. "I've had good incentive."

Hal smiled a little, realized that he couldn't feel his face, he was so numb from exhaustion. Pierce dropped his stretch and walked over to him, wrapping his arms around Hal's waist and touching their foreheads. "Go shower," he said softly. "There's shampoo and soap in the cupboard, and extra toothbrushes and everything. I'll turn on the heater and check out the houseplants and turn on the wifi. You're done. I can tell. Shower, drop into bed, stay as long as you need to. Eventually you'll stop seeing the road behind your eyes when you close them."

"You see it too?" Hal said plaintively, because it had been on auto loop for the last five days.

"Only every minute of the day. I hope you're done with traveling for a while. I want to stay here, build a pool, and show you the wonder and delight of my tiny corner of the state."

Hal breathed out a sigh of relief. "We have to visit your sister next year," he said, and something about the last two months made that possible. Next year, the two of them, at Sasha and Marshall's. It was a date.

"And I really want to go to Europe on our honeymoon," Pierce mumbled dreamily. "Our real honeymoon. When there's rings and a ceremony and everything.

Hal's dizziness grew a little more acute. "Is that a proposal?"

Pierce nuzzled his cheek. "It's an expected outcome. A logical conclusion. I'm so tired I can barely see and you're going to fall down any second. But I love you more now than I've loved anyone in my life. There has to be a wedding and a marriage. You... you belong here, in this room. Give it a week, a month--I'll ask you then, okay? When we're not hearing the car in every heartbeat, and you know the way to the bathroom--"

"Yes," Hal mumbled. "I'd marry you tomorrow. I'll marry you in my sleep. I don't need a week. I mean, I'm gonna need a week--mint green? Was that her choice or yours?"

"Mine," Pierce told him, smiling a little. "I was a redheaded kid--"

"You're a redheaded adult. Whoever told you you weren't was full of shit. But fine. I can live with mint green. As soon as I can see my phone--"

"And it's charged," Pierce said, his smile growing.  The phone had died coming through Bakersfield, of all places.

"Yeah, that. I'm gonna buy us a big unicorn pillow pet. And two rings. And every day until we get married we'll walk in through the bedroom door and see the big unicorn pillow pet and the rings. And we'll be just as married the day before the wedding as we will be the day after."

"As we are now," Pierce said happily.

"I so belong here," Hal told him, not even needing to see the backyard. "I so belong here with you."

"God, you do." Pierce's voice grew a little choked, and Hal felt tears starting in his eyes, but their hug wasn't going away.

"I'll shower in a minute," Hal said thickly.

"Yeah."

"I love you so much."

"I love you too."

*  *  *

Eventually they both made it to the shower and as Pierce wandered around the house checking rooms and turning on lights and the wifi. He sorted the mail on the table, and saw the envelope immediately. Big and legal and official looking. He opened it up and smiled a little, none of the bitterness he'd expected in this moment washing over him, all of the sweetness of that mangled proposal filling his heart instead.

Good. That chapter with his wife was closed, and they could move on.

He wandered back to the bedroom, feeling so much better in body and spirit than he had when he'd left Sacramento in November. HIs body might not ever be back to where it had been before the accident--but his spirit was so much better.

His spirit had found hope. Had found sweetness.

Had found Harold Justice Lombard the Third, and the joy of being a unicorn.

He crawled into bed and sighed, the sound of Hal's SUV on the tarmac fading.

"Anything interesting?" Hal mumbled.

"Yeah. My divorce will be final in June."

"Good."

"Wanna get married in July?"

"God yes. Where do you want to honeymoon?"

"Somewhere we can fly."

Hal chuckled. "I love you. Tomorrow we'll see about the pool."

"I love you back. Tomorrow we'll have sex."

"Let's do that first."

"Absolutely. G'night, Hal."

"Mm."

So much to do. So much to see. So much to live, all with the man by his side.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Thing With Tech

Okay, so any of us who have to squint at our computer screens are aware of the problem.

Our children know more tech than we do.

It is no secret amongst my family that if I was suddenly left in the house alone, I might never watch television again.  I don't know how to work the remotes, and every time I figure it out we get new remotes!

Now, the fact is, I watch ten hours of TV max a week-- the end. They spend a lot more time working the controls than I do so they're really much more proficient with it, and I don't mind that. I mean, practice makes perfect.

It's the utter disdain they have for me when I need their help. I frequently have to point out how much time they spend watching TV that I don't--and sometimes I get snotty with them. "Oh, I'm sorry I was out shopping for your favorite breakfast bar, while you watched TV all day, but maybe you could find this movie on Netflix for me?"

And I think that this has all flown over their heads--mom's an idiot, she'll always be an idiot and anything useful she has ever known is now depressingly obsolete.

Anyway...

Then last night, I'm up in the middle of the night (as I am now) and a thing goes off.

I have no idea what thing it is.

It's an electronic thing.

SOMEBODY'S electronic thing is set to YouTube and it's talking about pirates and syphilis and rotting from the inside out and my sweet little Christmas romance is about to become Dead Rotting Pirates of the Plague Farm.

Anyway-- I need it fixed, and I need it fixed now, and I DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS.

So I wake the kids. Or I try to wake the kids.

ZoomBoy's response is typical ADHD.  "Nuzzafuggabugget?"

And Squish doesn't even wait for the rest of it. She hops out of bed, goes over to the tech and fiddles with it. "On it, Mom!"

It's one in the morning.

She comes out, we stop hearing about Dead Rotting P irates of the Plague Farm, and she says, "Yeah-- that was ZB's tech. Suddenly his YouTube kicked on-- I think it was set to update. Don't worry about it. It's all good."

No disdain. No condescension. Just this sort of universal acknowledgment that having an electronic device go off about Dead Rotting Pirates at one in the morning is a little fuckin' freaky.

Anyway--this morning I tell her thank you, and she gives me a sly smile.

"Well... I was sort of up reading you know."

And I love her so much. Because she DOES know tech, and she can KILL the tech when it rises up against me!

But her best friend is still pulp paper and vanilla-scented glue.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Pride!

We had so much fun!

The event was lovely--but then, it was last year too, and that's why I brought my kids this year. The parade was well attended and meaningful, and the booths were active and vibrant.

My kids had a fantastic time, and we brought Chicken's best friend (since Chicken worked) who was happy to come with us.

Wheee!!!

But... but there was Pride Bunny.

See, I asked Chicken to make me Pride Bunny-- she made a bunny for Squish and it was awesome, and she said she'd make me one--

And then, last night, told me it was going home with Stevi.

And look at that picture--Stevi looks so happy with her! I mean, Pride Bunny was MEANT for Stevi.

But we all got attached to Pride Bunny!

So I'm begging Chicken to make me another Pride Bunny, to put QSAC on the front of, so we can bring her to ALL of the QSAC functions.

BECAUSE SHE'S AWESOME.

*grrrrr*

I haven't made stuffed animals in SO LONG--but if she doesn't make me another Pride Bunny, I may have to. *long suffering sigh*

It won't be nearly as good.

Anyway--

I was there with Pat Henshaw, D.L. Kent, SA Collins, Mike Nichols, J. Scott Coatsworth, L.E. Franks, and Jeff Adams and Will Knauss, of podcast fame.

Now, I've met Jeff and Will before--but never had a chance to talk to them, but today I actually had that chance to talk to Jeff.

He was hilarious and charming and I SO WANT to be on their podcast! (They asked me, around fall, and I'm like counting the days already.)

So in general?

It was an awesome day.

And now, 3000 words before I sleep.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dear Citizen...

So, we're in the middle of recital  rehearsal again, and if you don't hear from me when you usually do, you know what's happening...

I'm spending 2-3 nights a week supervising other people's children.

Which is generally exhausting.

To wit, I've got a couple of Dear Citizen letters to start my night of writing off right!

*  *  *

Dear Guest Dog--a.ka. Gibby--

While I appreciate that you don't really like my dogs, in the future, when we're walking, it would probably be a good idea not to slip your leash and run off while I"m picking up Johnnie's crap. If you ran into the road, your owner would be devastated, and I'd feel like crap, for one. For another, watching you round a corner and into a walking group of three pit bull mixes (one of them was pit bull/Clydesdale, I remain convinced) almost gave me a heart attack.

From laughter.

You almost crapped right then and there, didn't you you little shit.

Yeah, that's right, trotting off away from your designated human is a bad fucking idea, right? Don't do it again.

Sincerely,

Me


*  *  *

Dear New Dentist--

First of all, I had a terrible crush on your father my old dentist and he was too old for me, and here you are, fifteen years younger than I am and I'm feeling the nasty laughing hand of an evil fate because you are cute as a boy band bug's ear.

Second of all, this weird infatuation isn't going to save our relationship if you keep inviting me back just to work on my teeth again.

Also, please laugh at my jokes even if I'm old. If you're jabbing my gums with lidocaine and I'm being funny, I think that calls for a smile, at least.

You're still embarrassingly cute but safe from any pervy advances--

Me


*  *  *

Dear other people's children--

I'm sure you are the apple of your parents' eyes and if you were my child I'd bore the crap out of the world telling them about your exploits, just ask the readers of my blog. But it's been a long day, and you are not my children, and if you don't stop scattering crayons on the lawn I'm going to look up a way to curse your shoelaces so that you may never untie them at will.

I think your parents would be fine with this, but I'm pretty sure you would not.

Think carefully before you throw that next crayon, shall we?

I mean it!

Me


And now I'm off to write!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

School's Out for Summer!

Okay-- so last week I had a post titled "Beginning of the Summer Crazies" but I forgot to elaborate...

*  Today was Squish's promotion ceremony and both kids' official last day of school. *sigh*

* Wednesday is dance practice

* Thursday is recital rehearsal--I'm a backstage volunteer and, when he gets back from his trip, so is Mate.

*  Also a dentist appointment.

* Friday is Squish's doc appointment. Also recital rehearsal.

*  This weekend is Sac Pride--I'll be there with the QSAFC

* Also this weekend we need to get costumes.

*  Next week is recital rehearsal, followed by recital.

* I have a hard deadline on the 15th--right before recital!

*  I promised the kids there'd be mani-pedis. Yes. Three of the four get a summer mani-pedi. I don't know how this started but I'm pretty sure it's my fault.

*  And we have a guest dog. Guest dog belongs to Chicken's best friend's mother--who is sadly terminally ill. Best Friend needs a place for the dog because her aunts want to get rid of it because omg who does that when someone is dying, but anyway--we have known and loved Best Friend since high school--and are so sad about her mother. Guest Dog (from here on out known as Gibby) has a place here as long as she needs one, and Best Friend can show up here any time to visit. God, the world is a hard place sometimes. Sometimes we need to know our furry friends are okay just so we can function.

*whew*

So, THOSE are the summer crazies.

And that said, back to the promotion ceremony--

A. They had a photo montage showing pictures of the kids as Kindergartners--when I first volunteered at the school--and then showing them now. I saw Squish's little face with her bright red hair when she was a baby and burst into tears. I was not prepared.

B. The teacher was announcing awards, and she said, "This is the Socrates award--it's for critical thinking!" and I turned to Chicken and said, "Your brother got this award when he graduated three years ago!"

And then they called Squish's name, and Chicken and I were both "Ooooohhh!!!"

The teacher said, "We got the plaque for the office and for a minute, I thought they'd made a terrible typo, until I realized that the name was for 2015. Somebody else had to tell me she had a brother--what was his name again?" And what followed was a hilarious five minutes in which Squish tried to explain what her brother's name was, because it was on the plaque near hers.

Anyway--I am apparently raising critically thinking human beings, and I am proud.

C. ZoomBoy went to school in Star Wars Pajamas. Nobody noticed, because apparently that was sort of par for the course.        

I said critically thinking--not suave and debonair.

Anyway-- it was a good day, and now? To try to make that deadline!






Monday, June 4, 2018

Kermit Flail--the Boys of Summer edition (June!)

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!

Seriously folks, these last two months of Kermit Flail have been an embarrassment of riches--they've reminded me about how exciting it can be to work with other writers and how much fun it is to celebrate each other's work in the best of ways.

This month we've got some of my local folks on the roster-- J. Scott Coatsworth is the fearless leader of our local Sacramento based writing group QSAF and he's really an awesome guy. He's taken a disparate lot of folks from our little corner of the world and organized Pride Booths (which I'll be at) and readings at the local LGBTQI library, which he then films and puts up on FB. (I've done this too--but only because Scott is awesome.)  Anyway, he has worked really hard to put our corner of the world on the map in this genre and I'm really privileged to host him here as he releases his self-pub The River City Chronicles. I'm just saying--the guy gets a special shout out for working his ass off for his genre--let's give it up for Scott--YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!

Also a local girl, we have Pat Henshaw with a Foothills Pride story (that's right up my alley, y'all) and that's exciting too!  E.J. Russell--a RITA award nominated Kermit Flail regular is here with Mystic Man, and I'm just so thrilled and tickled that she remembers me with every new release. Also, I finally got my friend Kate McMurray to remember me and put her newest, Damage Control on my roster, so YAYAYAYAYAY!!! 

I've got two Dreamspun Beyond authors--the amazing, warm, huggable and awesome Ms. Julia Talbot, as well as the adorable, super-smart, I'm-so-glad-we-got-to-hang-out-at-RT Ms. Bru Baker!  

We also have Refraction, by BA Tortuga and Jodi Payne. Like her wife, BA Tortuga  has been one of those kind and delightful cornerstones of this genre from so far back we really wouldn't know what to do without her, and Jodi Payne is just an inexhaustible well of energy! I'm just so honored to have the two of them here!  

Ms. Kris Jacen--another trailblazer for this genre--is on my roster as well, and I was jumping up and down and giggling when she submitted--eeeeee!!!  And Ki Brightly, Cate Ashwood, and S.J. Himes are just such wonderful, fun people on the web, I was pleased to put them on the list too!

And I've got a special book here--my friend and fellow writer Ashovan Doyan asked that I put his friend Cindy Sutherland's book here on the Flail, and that is just fine by me--and a very generous gesture to boot.

So whew! Did I get everybody? 

Well, uh, you may notice at the bottom that the final manny book is finally available for pre-sale--so the prolific family of the Robbins-Lowell-Graysons is finally saying goodbye, and I don't like to pick favorites, but Quinlan and Dustin's book is truly special. 

So there you go!

I hope you all enjoy these delicious boys of summer (oddly enough all boys--that doesn't happen every time!) and I wish you happy reading. There is bound to be someone on this list to please every taste, right?

Happy reading!

YAYAYAYAYAYAYYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!! 






The River City Chronicles

by J. Scott Coatsworth

Everyone in the River City has a secret, and sooner or later secrets always come out. 

A group of strangers meets at Ragazzi, an Italian restaurant, for a cooking lesson that will change them all. They quickly become intertwined in each other's lives, and a bit of magic touches each of them.

Meet Dave, the consultant who lost his partner; Matteo and Diego, the couple who run the restaurant; recently-widowed Carmelina; Marcos, a web designer getting too old for hook-ups; Ben, a trans author writing the Great American Novel; teenager Marissa, kicked out for being bi; and Sam and Brad, a May-September couple who would never have gotten together without a little magic of their own.













Damage Control


by Kate McMurray 

Senate candidate Parker Livingston chose his political dreams over a future with the man he loved. He lives with constant regret about not having Jackson Kane in his life. Or his bed. And when a strange woman is found murdered in Parker’s apartment, Jackson is the only person Parker trusts to help clear his name.

Jackson never forgave Parker for the way their relationship ended. He moved on, built a name for himself as a criminal defense attorney and swore he’d never let heartbreak back in. But when Parker shows up on his doorstep, wild-eyed and handsome and desperate for his help, Jackson can’t say no. Parker is a lot of things, but he’s no murderer.

Forced back together, searching for answers, their attraction returns with a vengeance. Any distraction—personal or professional—could be deadly. The murderer is still at large, and he’s made it clear one of them is his next victim.


Available June 19, 2018!



Under a Blue Moon,

by Bru Baker


A Camp H.O.W.L. Novel

Once in a blue moon, opposites find they’re a perfect match.

Nick Perry is tired of helping people with their marriages, so when a spot opens up to work with teens at Camp H.O.W.L., he jumps at it. He doesn’t expect to fall in lust with the dreamy new camp doctor, Drew Welch. But Drew is human, and Nick has seen secrets ruin too many relationships to think that a human/werewolf romance can go anywhere.

Happy-go-lucky Drew may not sprout claws, but he’s been part of the Were community all his life. He has no trouble fitting in at the camp—except for Nick’s stubborn refusal to acknowledge the growing attraction between them and his ridiculous stance on dating humans. Fate intervenes when one of his private practice patients threatens Drew’s life. Will the close call help Nick to see a connection like theirs isn’t something to let go of?


Release date: June 19

On Presale at DSP 


Incubus Adored

by Ki Brightly

 Peirs had accepted his life of servitude to an angel. His keeper asked only for a willing body, and in exchange his needs were met and he was fed and clothed. Peirs might have served the angel forever—it was the only life he knew—but one day Peirs discovered something he had no way to plan for. After two millennia, he was pregnant. Peirs now must summon the courage to escape his master and the unbendable divine law that declared no half-breeds should live, but running into an angelic soldier in the back room of a bar wasn’t part of his plan.

After years of begging to go to the battlefields on Earth, Tabbis, the youngest angel in Heaven, finally got his assignment. Ready for heroics and bloodshed, he was stunned when he found enchanting and seductive Peirs instead. Tabbis was duty bound to kill Peirs, but Peirs’s very existence challenged everything Tabbis thought he knew.

Tabbis needs answers. Peirs wants nothing more than to save his baby and live in peace. Can they band together to help each other? Or will the wrath of Heaven tear them apart?



Mystic Man

by E.J. Russell


When a series of personal crises prompt risk-averse research librarian Aaron Templeton to apply for a job on the other side of the country, nobody is more surprised than he is. He nearly runs home before the final interview except for one little problem: he has no home anymore. He put his condo on the market before he left California and it’s already sold. Only an encounter with free-spirited Connecticut native Cody Brown at the Mystic Seaport Museum staves off Aaron’s incipient panic attack.

Cody loves nothing better than introducing newcomers to the great features of his beloved home state, and when the newbie in question is a rumpled professorial type with the saddest blue eyes on the planet? Score! The attraction between the two men deepens as they explore Cody’s favorite spots, but when difficulties arise and Aaron’s insecurities threaten to overwhelm him, will Cody’s love be enough to keep him in Mystic?


Buy at Dreamspinner



Redesigning Max

by Pat Henshaw

A Foothills Pride Story

Renowned interior designer Fredi Zimmer is surprised when outdoorsman Max Greene, owner of Greene’s Outdoors, hires Fredi to revamp his rustic cabin in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Fredi is an out-and-proud Metro male whose contact with the outdoors is from his car to the doorway of the million-dollar homes he remodels, and Max is just too hunky for words.

When Max comes on to Fredi, the designer can't imagine why. But he’s game to put a little spice into Max’s life, even if it’s just in the colors and fixtures he’ll use to turn Max's dilapidated cabin into a showplace. Who can blame a guy for adding a little sensual pleasure as he retools Max’s life visually?

Max, for his part, is grateful when Fredi takes him in hand, both metaphorically and literally. Coming out is the most exciting and wonderful time in his life, despite the conservative former friends who think they’re saving him from sliding into hell.



Love Aggression

by Cindy Sutherland



Tyler Calvano knew his ex-wife’s boyfriend was bad news from the way the little hairs on the back of his neck stood on end, from a smell of danger, from an animal instinct his ex had once appreciated. He wished she’d listened to him. Custody exchanges were hard enough on Jesse, now Ty had to wonder—did Jesse have enough wolf bursting inside him yet to have heard his mother’s pleas as she was gunned down? He couldn’t trust the police to protect them. He took Jesse and he fled across the continent, as far as he could go.

Ty and Jesse became Tanner and Jason—different names, different lives. The nightmares still woke Jesse. Ty kept looking over his shoulder. The only spot of light was a man at the daycare, Kelan, a shifter like Ty—a wolf in human guise, ready to change, ready to protect. The daycare was safe. But another shifter was something Ty hadn’t counted on. With it came the complications of pack rivalries, of shifter brothers who tormented Kelan, of the unreasoned animal want that grew every time Ty caught scent of him.And every day, the killers kept looking for them, the only people who might identify them. Ty couldn’t take risks. Ty couldn’t open his heart. Ty had to keep Jesse safe. Nothing else mattered.

Buy at Amazon 




Home Skillet

by Cate Ashwood

Sometimes the only way to move forward… is to go back.
JAMES

I don't know what's more shocking—the sudden end to my marriage, or the fact that I'd married a woman at all. But now I'm broke and homeless, kicked out of my Upper West Side apartment while my ex-wife walks away with everything we've ever worked for.

So what's an executive chef stripped of his dignity gonna do?

Go back to Jersey with his tail between his legs, that's what.

BEN

I can’t say that spending a decade pining after my best friend was the best use of my time. While I'd pretty much become an expert at the whole unrequited love thing, I'd resigned myself to the fact that Jimmy and I were never gonna happen. But when Jimmy turned up on my doorstep in his hour of need, I jumped at the chance to offer him my bed—er, couch. I mean, what are friends for, right?

Now that he's released from the shackles of matrimony, I can't wait to show him exactly what he's been missing out on all these years.

What I didn't anticipate was him showing me that maybe I'd been missing out too.

Buy at Amazon




The Necromancer's Reckoning, 
The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #3

By SJ Himes

Every action has consequences.

For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.

Until now.

The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.

If found guilty, Angel's apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel's mate refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.

The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.

Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a graverobbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town...a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.





Night of the Living Manny




by Julia Talbot


Something besides love is growing….

Manny Brenden Torrance is good at his job. He's dealt with all sorts of children and parents, but he's never met anyone as intriguing as Liam Whitehouse. Liam is a scientist with three kids, whose job is keeping him away from home more and more. That's where Brenden steps in to help.

Liam has secrets, though. He's working on a project for a pharmaceutical lab that could change disease management. Or destroy it. While he and Brenden start a romance they both want to continue, things at Liam's job come to a head, and suddenly the whole family of Dad, manny, three kids, and a big drooly dog is on the run from the one thing that might keep Brenden and Liam apart. And infect the world.


Available June 5th from DSP

Refraction
A Collaborations Novel

by Jodi Payne and BA Tortuga


Texas artist Tucker Williams arrives in New York City for a gallery showing of his work and finds the city blanketed in snow. He meets free-spirited underwear model Calvin McIntire on the steps of the Midtown library and is captivated by a wild beauty that manages to compete with the demons that occupy his soul and fuel his work with their lust for blood and erotic imagery.

Unable to deny a new inspiration, Tucker sublets a studio and finds the city’s energy almost as addictive as Calvin.

Tucker is obsessive, barely holding on to sanity as his art consumes him, and Calvin is dealing with demons of his own, trying desperately to protect his soul in a business where only his appearance has value. They each prove to be the perfect remedy for the other’s personal brand of crazy until, in the midst of stress and exhaustion, they discover that a promise Calvin needs is the one thing Tucker can’t give him, and their heaven turns to purgatory.

Can both men find a path toward wholeness in Tucker’s beautiful but chaotic Texas home? In order for them—and their passionate relationship—to thrive, they’ll need to adapt, share their psychoses, and find a true balance between New York City and rural Texas.

Available June 12 from DSP



Learn with Me

 by Kris Jacen


Josiah “Siah” Kent has always loved learning; now he’s living his dream of teaching children to love it too. After getting his degrees in New Orleans, he accepted a teaching position outside of Washington DC. What a better place to be able to teach and continue learning?

Sergeant Carter May joined the Army right out of high school. He’s always struggled to succeed in school but has found a place in the military but has dreamed of getting a college degree—he’d be the first in his family if he did. Being stationed with the Presidential Firing Battery at Arlington National Cemetery will give him the opportunity to take the chance, but will he risk failing?

A chance meeting years ago in New Orleans, had sparks flying between Siah and Carter. Another chance encounter between the ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, blow those sparks into a full flame. Can Siah and Carter find some common ground to learn more about each other and a possible future together?

Buy at Amazon


 A Fool and His Manny

by Amy Lane

The Mannies

Seeing the truth and falling in love.

Dustin Robbins-Grayson was a surly adolescent when Quinlan Gregory started the nanny gig. After a rocky start, he grew into Quinlan's friend and confidant—and a damned sexy man.

At twenty-one, Dusty sees how Quinlan sacrificed his own life and desires to care for Dusty’s family. He’s ready to claim Quinlan—he's never met a kinder, more capable, more lovable man. Or a lonelier one. Quinlan has spent his life as the stranger on the edge of the photograph, but Dusty wants Quinlan to be the center of his world. First he has to convince Quinlan he’s an adult, their love is real, and Quinlan can be more than a friend and caregiver. Can he show Quin that he deserves to be both a man and a lover, and that in Dusty’s eyes, he’s never been “just the manny?”

Available for Presale at DSP

Stand by Your Manny

by Amy Lane


The Mannies


Learning to trust and falling in love.

Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once—not even Sammy!

An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot—if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.

Luckily, family intervenes—Cooper needs a job so he can care for Felicity, and Sammy needs someone who can see past his illness to the wonderful things he has planned for his life. Each heals the damaged places in the other’s heart. But falling in love is a big responsibility for young men deep in family already. Can the two of them get past their fear of the immediate future to see forever with each other?

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Beginning of Summer Crazies

*  We went to see a friend's son get his award from his swim banquet today. I really do miss how proud kids are of themselves sports and other activities in high school. *sigh*

* On our way down and back I had Mate listening to Hamilton. "Isn't it great?" I enthused.

"It's won several awards," he said stoically.

"But yeah, I just, you know, wanted to share it with you!"

"Then stop giving me intros to the songs!"

He's right, you know. That teacher thing never really goes away.

* This happened (I posted it on Twitter/FB but I'm still giggling)

Me: *spazzes out*
Mate: What?
Me: *with dignity* Bug.
Mate: You’re not gonna kill it like that!
Me: I don’t need to kill it. I just need it to know not to surprise me.
Mate: Dogs—get that!
Dogs: GET THE BUG!!!!
... and that is why the expression is
“Dead as that bug on my rug.”


*  Also still giggling because the promotions department is trying to figure out WTF gives with Hiding the Moon. It's a crossover between Fish Out of Water and Racing for the Sun, so what does that make it? Fish 4 and Racing 2? The fuck? 

I mean, I shouldn't be giggling. You can't sell a book with a two page long explanation of wtf it came from, and you can't sell a book with the tagline of, "The fuck if I know, trust me it fits!" either.

But so far my best idea is from a reader, who proposed SunFish-- or, (my suggestion) Hiding the Fish. 

Or Hiding the MoonFish.

But see? You get the idea. "The fuck if I know, trust me it fits!" is looking better all the time.


*  OH! And with a little help from a promotions company I'm getting my newsletter back online and starting a contest on my blog. (And I do mean help. These are not things I could do myself.)  Anyway-- the book will be available in either paperback or e-book format-- here's the link!  


Night all-- have a nice weekend! Kermit Flail on Monday :-)

Amy


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Pierce and Hal Road Trip--On Our Way Home

I was going to finish these guys off with this, but I think they get one more ficlet--possibly this week.  In the meantime, enjoy a little bit of road magic for Pierce and Hal. This one took a detour I did not expect.

For folks new to the blog, this is one of several ficlets that will be added to the text of Regret Me Not, my Christmas story for 2017--

Enjoy!

*  *  *

You had to drive carefully in the snow. You didn't make a lot of time, and stopping to rest frequently became their watchword.

Hal spent a lot of moments with his face pressed up against the glass, his fingers white-knuckled around the steering wheel, cursing silently to himself with the background noise of 90's music that Pierce kept on the radio.

He was particularly a fan of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Go figure.

After a quick trip to Pennsylvania because neither of them had seen the  Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, it was, as Pierce had promised, pretty much balls-out driving.

On day two, Pierce asked if it would bother Hal if he broke out his tablet so he could do some work for the job waiting for him in March, and Hal had to ask: "You're not going to turn into a closet workaholic on me, are you?"

Pierce grunted. "I hope not." Hal heard him take a deep breath. "Not like your father, I promise."

"Well, that is sort of a low bar."  Hal's parents had been hideous to Pierce--Hal hated to think Pierce was anything like them.

"I worked a lot with Cynthia in the end," Pierce confessed. "I... you know. Didn't like going home. But this is just e-mail and employee application stuff. I...I promised you a home. Stability. A pool--"

"The pool is optional!" Hal gasped, because he hated to think of it as a burden.

"Yeah, I know. But part of that promise is me, bringing in money. You know. Being productive. I mean, you'll probably pay your share of the bills whether I ask you or not, but I just want to... you know. Be dependable for you." Pierce let out a sort of humorless grunt. "It's not like I can promise excitement or glamour. If dependability is what I've got, I'm going to run with it."

"Dependability is not why I fell in love with you," Hal told him, although maybe it was and Hal just hadn't thought of it like that.

"I'm still fuzzy on what it was that actually made you do that."  Pierce tapped on his tablet fitfully, staring at his e-mail like it had offended him. "Enlighten me."

"You smelled good."

Pierce smirked. "I smelled like ben-gay."

"No--you should have smelled like ben-gay, but god forbid you actually use any painkillers. No, you just smelled like... you know. Red-headed sweat and chlorine. But it was a good smell on you. I could smell it every day."

"Well, I'll be sure to wave my pit-stink at the bank when we drive by and maybe it will fill up my coffers," Pierce said dryly--although Hal knew that he was in pretty good shape, all things considering.

"Well they do call it filthy luchre," Hal guffawed, and he liked Pierce's answering laugh, but the thought still bothered him.

Apparently it still bothered Pierce as well.

"I like work," Pierce said unexpectedly after a few moments of driving. "I like feeling useful, feeling smart. I'm designing video chips for a new game company--it's fun. It's like tiny changes in my work can make people really happy in their play. Why not like that? I mean, it's not turning someone from a cramped pain ball into an actual human being like some of us can do, but it's not bad."

"So the workaholic thing?" Hal prompted, actually liking this answer better than a flat out no.

"Probably not a problem. I may have to work some project deadlines, but I got to tell you, if home is a good place to be, I really love my weekends and my afternoons. Derek and I usually play softball in the spring--"

"I love softball!" Hal exclaimed, delighted. Oh, this was unexpected. "I also play rec-league soccer--"

"We've got some indoor leagues around," Pierce told him, and he almost shuddered in happiness. "And trips to the river and car shows and--you know. Fun. I'm a fan. So I don't think there'll be a lot of late nights, you know? Where I'm not there. Just.... I guess you were wondering."

Hal half-laughed. "You know, the thing we didn't really think about before we rode into the sunset was that we'd have time to plan what the sunset would look like. I'm thinking this could be a real fuckin' gorgeous sunset, right?"

"It's looking good so far!"

The next night--coming through Oklahoma, of all places--it wasn't quite so golden. Pierce's legs cramped up about halfway through their drive, leaving Hal to find an off-ramp so he could hurriedly work out the worst of the spasms. But three days of driving had taken its toll, and Hal pulled out the emergency pain meds, the ones Pierce kept tucked in his big suitcase that he tried not to take to many of, just so Pierce's muscles could relax enough for Hal to stretch them out. Pierce was left, limp, more than a little stoned, sweating in the chill of the winter air, and wrung out in the passenger seat of Hal's CR-V.

"We need a bed," Hal said, no bullshit in his voice. "And a pool. And it's got to be a good one--no Motel 6, okay?"

"I've got some websites on my phone," Pierce yawned because pain could sap a man's energy like toughing else, and Hal pulled the phone out of his fingers before he could start tapping.

"Let me, okay? The closest good hotel, I promise."

"I won't always be helpless," Pierce mumbled. "I swear."

"Oh baby." Hal put a warm hand on the part of his back that had been spasming the hardest. "I'm not ever worried about you being helpless. I'm worried about you trying to do this alone, you get that, right?"

"I'd miss you," Pierce mumbled. "Being alone sucked."

"You are telling me. Okay..."

"Hey, queers, get a room!" Hal looked up from his fumbling with the phone and realized they were at a truck stop, in Oklahoma, and he was actively fondling his boyfriend. He glared at the guy who had just spoken--his age, but with the sagging skin of poor nutrition and too much tobacco.

"I'm looking for a good one," Hal told him shortly. "Somewhere that wouldn't take you, for instance."

Next to him, Pierce chuckled. "You are going to get us killed, but at least I'm too high to care."

"Close your door, baby," Hal muttered, shifting the phone in his hand so he could do the same. The big country boy who liked to cat call got there before he could though.

"What'samatter? He sick?"

Hal glared at him sourly. Hair so blond it was white completed the picture of redneck. "He's recovering from a car accident. We just need a place for him to lie down and stretch out."

"Well, hell-- you can do that at my place--it's not that far down the road." The guy repositioned the John Deere hat on his head, and Hal blessed and cursed southern hospitality.

"That's kind," he said frankly, "but since we really are queer, I'm not sure how much you really mean that. We've got a hotel about twenty miles away--I think we'll try to get there."

"Why're you queer?" the kid said, and Hal heard Pierce's dry snort next to him.

"That's just who we are," Hal told him. "Thank you for asking--"

"No, seriously. You can come to my house--if he's sore, it's right there--you can see it. Here, I'll drive, you follow."

And before Hal could protest again, the kid got into his truck and started it up, checking his mirrors and nodding to make sure Hal would follow him.

"Now would be a great time to drive the hell away," Pierce mumbled.

Hal hesitated before putting the SUV into gear. "No, seriously. I think he's being kind. And if I could work on you for an hour some place you could stretch out, we might be able to make it to Oklahoma City, which could have  hotel with a jacuzzi."

"You sure he doesn't think you have a purty mouth?" Pierce asked.

"No, Pierce, that's you." Hal took a deep breath and decided to follow the kid with the white hair. "I'm going to take a gamble, okay? If we both die horribly, don't hate."

"I promise," Pierce mumbled. "Not hating."

"Good."

Well, if they were going to be unicorns, they might as well throw themselves into danger, right?

The kid wasn't kidding-- his house was about a quarter of a mile from the truck stop, back from the road a little with a long driveway, but not deep into the swamp, either.

"I could be just getting desperate here, but that place doesn't look half bad."

Pierce hit the lever on his side of the car and levitated slowly up. The house was two stories, and in decent repair. The kudzu that dominated the topography had been pruned back to leave about an acres worth of bluegrass lawn, complete with a modest flower garden in front of the porch. It wasn't Hal's parents' house by any means, but it wasn't a shack in the middle of nowhere, either.

"The flower beds don't even look big enough for a human body," Pierce said in wonder, and Hal smirked.

At that moment, the white-haired kid hopped out of the pickup truck and went thundering into the house. "Aunt Lucy! Aunt Lucy! We got queers here who need fixing! Aunt Lucy!"

"They're going to try to pray the gay away aren't they?" Hal asked in numb horror.

"Yup. Got your gay held tight in both hands?"

Hal glared at him. "How about you--got your bi in one hand and your sex in the other?"

Pierce managed a rusty chuckle before closing his eyes and consciously relaxing. God, Hal hoped this wasn't a bad idea, because pretty much every muscle in Pierce's body had decided that travel was the suck.

The woman who came running down the porch was something of a surprise.

She was not, all told, much older than Pierce himself with a few streaks of gray in her shoulder-length brown bob. She was wearing faded mom-jeans over a waifish figure and an oversized sweatshirt with Don't Hate on the front in rainbow letters.

Hal felt a knot in the middle of his back start to loosen up. If he was not mistaken, they had managed to find themselves a blue liberal in the middle of a red state. They might not get buried in the flower beds after all.

He hopped out and went to shake her hand.

"See, Aunt Lucy-- I told you, we got queers who need fixing!"

Aunt Lucy cast a pained look at her nephew. "Kyle?" she said gently, "Does it matter if they're queer?"

"Well, yeah, because they were in the middle of the truck stop, and they were gonna get clobbered. I told them to get a room, but this one said his boyfriend was hurt."

"Hurt?"  Lucy had big  brown compassionate eyes. "Does he need a doctor?"

Hal shook his head. "He just needs to not be in the car for an hour, someplace he can stretch out. He's recovering from some injuries and he's getting better, but we were trying to get to California in another three days."

"Mm," she said, shaking her head and going over to Pierce's side of the car. "Overdid it. I hear you. What's in California?"

Hal opened the door for Pierce and offered his arm so Pierce could grab hold. "Home," he said quietly. "We were vacationing in Florida, and we met, and... well, I'm going home with him."

The woman's quiet smile sort of lit up the gray winter day. "That's lovely," she said. "That's damned near the most romantic thing I've ever heard. Here, uh--"

"Pierce," Pierce supplied. "Ma'am, I don't want to squash you."

Aunt Lucy was about 5'3".

"You're right. Kyle, get in there, you and--"

"Hal."

"Hal, pleased to meet you. "You two make a little sedan chair, and take Pierce to the downstairs guest bedroom. It's all made up and everything. You can stretch out there. Do you need any painkillers?"

"I'm on some," Pierce said dryly. "Not as much fun as they could be."

Lucy chuckled. "Well, we'll try to change that. I've got some really awesome menthol ointment in my medicine chest--do you think that would work?"

"Lady, you're a godsend," Hal breathed, taking Pierce's weight without trouble as Kyle did the same thing on his other side. "I'm a massage therapist--if I can just work out his muscles for an hour or so, we can get out of your hair."

"No worries--and no hurries either. The roads get icy at night, and I just made a big helping of venison stew."

"Hunting's been good this year," Kyle said proudly, and Hal couldn't even make fun of that. His parents served a full sized duck, head and everything, at their dinner table, just to prove they could. Apparently these people ate deer because they could shoot their own, and that was actually better.

"It's nice of you to offer," Hal said humbly. "Let's see how he's doing first. We really did want to get home."

Lucy's pat on his arm was reassuring. "A little detour here and there won't hurt too bed. Your lives together will start soon enough. Now let me go first and strip the bed and put down an old sheet--you can get ointment all over it and not worry."

They got Pierce to the bed and Hal stripped him down to his T-shirt and boxer shorts, out of deference to Lucy and Kyle. She brought in a big brown jar of something Hal tried not grimace at. Lucy was pretty sharp though, because she laughed.

"I know--you're thinking hillbilly witchcraft, right?"

He smiled and tried for diplomacy. "It's not, uh, from the catalog I usually use."

Her laugh turned to a cackle. "You are sweet. Trust me. It's eucalyptus and lavender and camomile and willow bark. All stuff that will seep into his muscles and take away the pain. Except the lavender--that's just for the smell. And it's water based--it'll wash off just fine. Now go ahead, rub it on him. Is it okay if I watch? I got training myself, and I might pick up a few things."

Hal nodded. "Okay, Pierce? She wants to watch."

"I'd say that was kinky but I don't even know her."

Lucy laughed again. "Oh he's salty. You two must be a laugh riot. Now here's some gloves for you." she produced two non-latex gloves, the type used by most doctors, and Hal nodded thanks again before putting them on, getting a dab of the salve and trying it on his own shoulder.

He gave a little sigh as the salve went hot and cold on his skin, and he figured it would be just like Icy Hot or Apercreme, but it smelled a hell of a lot better.

"If this is a bad move, start screaming," he muttered to Pierce.

Pierce, stretched out on the bed and completely immobile, only grunted. "Sure. Screaming. I'll get right on that."

Hal rubbed at the base of Pierce's spine, and the whimper he let out sounded nothing like screaming at all.

An hour later, Hal's back and shoulders were aching from exertion but Pierce was finally asleep.

"Gah!" he breathed, lifting his arms up in stretches. "That was bad. He didn't say anything this morning when we got up to leave--"

"He wants to be home as bad as you do," Lucy supplied. "Now here. I'm not getting fresh or anything, but take off your sweatshirt, and let me rub your back and arms through your shirt. You've earned some care of your own."

Hal couldn't object and he sat down in the chair she'd used when he'd been working. "That's really kind," he said, relaxing his head on his neck. "Pierce is usually a pretty good caretaker. Make sure I get some food, makes sure I'm okay inside. This... this isn't gong to last."

Her hands felt wonderful-- sexless, but wonderful-- on his neck, his shoulders, this back.

"The pain won't," Lucy told him, "but I think the love will. Anyone that salty when he's in that much pain isn't going to let a few bumps in the road get him down."

Hal half-laughed. "He was afraid at first--he'd be too... well, salty, I guess you'd say. But that's not really the case, you know?"

"I can see. You want some of that salve on your neck here? You've got a nasty knot. You've been doing all the driving, right?"

Hal moaned softly. "You're not going to kill us while we sleep and bury us in the flower beds, are you?"

"No, son--we were going to cook you up as barbecue but the salve gives the meat a funny taste so we may just have to feed you and let you go."

Hal laughed and pulled of his shirt. "Talk about salty!"

"Yeah, yeah--let's just say I'm waiting for a smartass of my own, but they don't come to this part of the world often."  She rubbed some of the ointment into his back with effort, and the relief in his muscles was so acute, the long-term headache he'd been ignoring for two days disappeared. "And when they do," she added, working at the base of his skull with her fingers, "they're not my type."

Hal felt drugged. "Sorry about the queer," he mumbled, close to just passing out next to Pierce.

"Don't be. The queer is fine--it's the male I've got a problem with. If you could send, maybe, a pretty little homebody back from California who wants an Oklahoma gal, I'd be much obliged."

That did it. Hal started to chuckle, eyes half-lidded, as hie fought falling asleep in the chair.

"Done," Lucy said gently. "Go lay next to your young man. I'll have dinner for you both in an hour, then you can do some walking around the yard before bedtime. You'll both be better for it in the morning, and Kyle can learn to talk to you without thinking 'queer queer queer' the whole time. It's really the one lesson I haven't been able to pound into his head."

"He's kind though," Hal murmured, standing up and laying down on empty side of the bed. "He get that from you?"

"Well, certainly not from my brother, who was an asshole, or from his mother, who was just not that bright. But they're off, making more babies somewhere else, and I got a chance to fix this one."

"He offered us shelter when we needed it," Hal told her, because this was important. Lucy got what was apparently an old blanket from a closet in the room and shook it out over the two of them. "I mean, kindness of strangers--this has been almost like... a gift. A wedding present from the gods."  He pulled a corner of the blanket around his shoulder and snuggled down. Lucy patted his arm.

"Well, maybe the gods give you nice things because you're so sweet about accepting them," she said. "I'll wake you for dinner, okay?"

"Thank you."

"Sleep tight."

She left, turning off the light and closing the door, and Pierce made a sound next to him, rolling over to his side.

"You okay?" Hal asked, anxiety pulling him awake a little.

"I can move. It's a miracle. come here closer--we both smell and it feels like we should smell together."

Hal chuckled and curled into his chest. "They're not even going to chop us up for barbecue," he said, still stunned at their good fortune.

"Now see, if it had been me alone, I'd be in the oven already, slow cooking," Pierce said soberly. "It's all you, baby. I'm sure of it."

"Mm..."  Hal snuggled harder. "It's us. We're unicorns. We can find magic people. It's a superpower."

"Anybody else, I'd think that was bullshit," Pierce said, and on that note they fell asleep.

They'd wake up later in the evening and break bread with Lucy and Kyle, and take a walk with their dogs and come back and sleep. In the morning, Hal cooked omelets for everybody, to say thank you, and then they were on their way, with homemade cornbread wrapped in a towel to eat for lunch.

And Pierce would always assert that it was Hal's magic that found the nice people in Oklahoma, but Hal knew the truth.

It was both of them. They were unicorns.

He couldn't wait to get home to Sacramento, where they could fill Pierce's house with magic!
 


Monday, May 28, 2018

Exploding Ice Cream

So, another slow day--lots of writing, a little housework, some hang time with the fam.

And this--the short, surprising tale of exploding ice cream:

Chicken came by to do laundry--and then left again to play with friends and come back when her laundry was done. She walked in just as we were all eating Klondike Bars.

Klondike Bars are a family tradition. They are neat, involve no dishes, barely require a napkin, and limit the size and scope of the idea of "dessert". We're all fans.

But occasionally one will turn on you--and that's a problem.

See, I had my knitting in my lap--up over my chest, actually because I was sprawling in an undignified and unhealthy way on my chair. As I was eating my Klondike bar, pieces of the chocolate coating began to fall off at an alarming rate, and I tilted my head back and tried to eat faster and more pieces fell and I contorted my neck so they wouldn't fall on my knitting and the ice cream continued to melt and the next thing you know, I'm trapped like a helpless pork-barrel bug on my chair, my mouth full of melting vanilla, saying, "Uh, a little help? Anyone?"

My loving family, of course, lost their shit.

Yes, a napkin was run over so I could move my knitting and wipe my face and my neck and my chest, but they could barely stop laughing enough to ask me what happened.

"I don't know!" I wailed.

"Your neck--you still have chocolate all over your neck!" my beloved Mate told me before dissolving into giggles.

"It just exploded!" I tried to explain, "And then I shoved it all in my mouth!"

Mate sprawled back on the couch and did an impression of mom, the pork-barrel bug covered in ice cream. "Help meeeeeeee!!!! Help meeeeeee!!!!"

We all laughed--hard and long-- and just when we drew a collective breath to laugh some more, ZoomBoy shouted, "I'VE GOT TO PEE!!!!" And ran for the bathroom like his ass was on fire.

And that was it. Oxygen was not a thing anymore. None of us could breathe. We couldn't even make sound we were laughing so hard. We were still gasping for air when ZoomBoy got back from the bathroom and did another impression of me, and then Chicken did another impression of him and then it all started over again.

I mean, I got nothing.

Beware of exploding ice cream. There you go. My lesson of the day.

Also, laugh with your family as often as possible. Even if it means ice cream on your boobs. Totally worth it.

 Saying.