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

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 :-)


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--


*  *  *

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."


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, 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.


Recovery Weekend

So, on Friday, Squish's class had it's sixth grade field trip and I got a good look at what teachers have been telling me since my daughter started school.

This year's sixth grade class is, uh, special.

In the hide the ammunition and put padding on the sharp edges kind of way.

In my entire life, I have never seen a lifeguard jump in a pool after a kid.
Not once.

For Squish's class all three lifeguards had to jump in at one time or another, because these kids... *shaking my damned head* Special.

They started off by giving the kids a swimming test. If you could swim the length of the pool in the deeper end while they watched, you could go anywhere. If you couldn't, you stayed in the shallow end.  Squish hopped in--no australian crawl, but she did a very serviceable, surprisingly quick dog paddle and had free reign.

Not so much the rest of her class.

One kid ignored the swim test directive and went straight into the deep water--and down. One kid ignored the, "Don't swim into the current by the slide," directive, and got stuck. One kid was in the shallow end and allowed herself to be talked into the deep end by her dumbass friends.

Either way, it was 70 degrees and there were three wet lifeguards standing, teeth chattering, while three pissed off teachers filled out paperwork.

All I could think was that, "Stay on this side of the rope," was such a simple direction--how hard was teaching these little boneheads something like algebra?

Squish's teacher was in the middle of filling out paperwork (each rescue needed an incident report) and she looked at me with big, dazed eyes. "I cannot tell you what a joy your daughter was this year."

Perhaps not--but I was beginning to get an idea.


I should have done so much this weekend--but I didn't.


It's why I blogged about research last night.

There's been a couple of movies (Solo, Deadpool 2) and a lot of naps and a lot of watching TV together and some attempts at chores, but generally?  We were tired as a family and recuperating.

But tonight we went out, big kids and little kids, and saw Solo, and that was nice. I enjoyed the movie a lot--wasn't gonna change my life, but I could watch a Ron Howard movie again, any day.

One of the funniest moments of the night though, came when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the movie.

Deadpool 2 was playing loudly through the walls and I caught the main chorus of this song from the end credits:

I went back up to sit next to Mate humming, "Holy shitballs," to myself-- didn't get any less funny.

Anyway-- tomorrow is gonna be hot, and maybe we can make it to the pool. Hooray! We've got a mission!


Night all!

Saturday, May 26, 2018


So, I'm writing a story inspired by Mate's trip to Germany with his friends. We were hanging out in the front room, I was in front of the computer, when the following happened:

Me: So what was the road like on the way to the monastery?

Mate: ? ? ?

Me: You know, in Munich. You went to see the monks and drink beer. You said the road was steep. What were the trees like?

Mate: I got nothing.

Me: What did the building look like?

Mate: There were, uh, towers and stuff. It was in a valley.

Me: But you said you had to climb a hill.

Mate: Uh...

Me: What did the inside look like?

Mate: Uh... stucco.

Me: You mean plaster?

Mate: Sure. Uh... gold. Benches and stuff.

Me: And they served you beer?

Mate: There was a restaurant!

Me: Was it good?

Mate: Sure.

Me: What color were the walls?

Mate: I don't know.

Me: What did the grounds look like?

Mate: I don't remember.

Me: What was it called?

Mate: Andex-- wait-- it's spelled c-h-s. Andechs Abbey. Are you do--

Me: You took the train-- what was it called?

Mate: Uh, the train?

Me: How far from your hotel?

Mate: What is this for?

Me: Research!

Mate: Here! Here! Here are the pictures! See? Now find words! Oh my God! Pictures--it was great! The beer was great! Everything was pretty! The people were nice! Are we done?

Me: What were the roads like in Munich?

Mate: OH my God.

Okay-- so that took longer than I thought it would, and was, quite frankly, harder than I predicted. Anyway, there WERE pictures and we started from there.

But later in the evening we were watching a Tig Notaro special, in which she talked about her wife Stephanie. "I love my wife. She, uh, confuses me daily. She will just call the most random shit across the house!"

Mate glared at me. "Like, 'What were the trees like in Germany?'"

I smiled sweetly. "You love your wife too."

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Out-gunned, out-manned...

So, next on the "Lane family listens to Hamilton" update--

We got to the "Say no to this..." part of the show and Squish is appalled. Shame on Alexander, shame!

Also Amy (much to her/my embarrassment) finally got the fatal irony of "I'm not throwing away my/Shot!" and all I can say is, "Derp!"  Yeah, I know. I've listened to the sound track a couple of times and it just hit me.  D'oh!

In other news...

The kids are prepping for their dance recital. Today their long-term dance teacher was getting exasperated, because nobody knew the steps, and she burst out, "I told you guys, you're too old to be cute and too young to be sexy! You actually have to know how to dance!"

To quote MacDuff, "Too nice, and yet too true."


So, I follow some porn bloggers on Twitter, mostly for when I'm writing the Johnnies series because porn changes as technology changes and I need to at least mention stuff, right?  Anyway, I was scrolling through Twitter, not even paying attention to what was under the mouse, when ZB gave me a surprise hug--and I hit the blog link and BOOM! Two hot boys and their not-so-little friends were staring us straight in the face!

ZoomBoy burst out laughing. "Did I do that?"

"No, ZoomBoy, your penis did not automatically spawn other internet penises. It doesn't work like that!"

"What happened?" Squish called, blessedly in the other room.

"Mom hit a link that rhymes with pay gorn!"  ZoomBoy called back. He was still taunting her with the spoonerism as he wandered off to bed.


The following conversation happened on text today, which is why phones are good and my family is hilarious:

ZB: What does an alcoholic panda drink?

Me: What?


Big T: hahahahaha  What does a con-man panda do?

ZB: What?

Big T: BamBOOZLE people out of their money!

Mate: heh heh heh  What does a dead panda want?

Me: Oh God.

Mate: BamBooOooOoooOoooooooooooooooo....

Me, Squish, and Chicken: :-D :-D :-D

-- Because seriously, it was like a training field for dad jokes, right?

Anyway-- good night!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


So, I was listening to Hamilton this morning. Yeah, I listened to it on the way up to Reno and the way back and now I'm just as hooked as the rest of America--sue me.

Anyway--three things.

1. Squish and I sang our hearts out to "Right Hand Man" twice. Something about "Here comes the gen-er-AL!" just really got us going.

2. I was giving ZoomBoy's friend Sam a ride home. He got into the car just when we heard Alexander's REAL opinion of James Madison. It, uh, was quite explicit. And really unflattering. Anyway, Sam laughed and I said, "I think you need to hear the first part."  So he got to hear the first three songs before he got home. Nobody say I'm not an enabler.

3. I was listening on the way after dropping Squish off and taking the dogs to the park, and I was just enough out of my usual routine that I forgot the dogs were even in the car and I did the unthinkable.

I passed the park.

The dogs were in the middle of their cry/bark/whine routine that comes with visiting their favorite place, and then I PASSED THE PARK.

And silence descended like an iron wall.

I stopped at the stop sign apologizing. "I"m sorry guys! I'm so sorry! I swear, I'm turning around right now!"

And I got a look at their little faces.

Oh my God. YOU GUYS! The pain and betrayal and disappointment. *clutches chest* Oh my heart. I seriously couldn't have lived with myself if I hadn't turned around and gone for walkies.

*shakes head*  Apparently the "YOU MONSTER!" guilt in a Shih-Chi's eyes can be classified as a deadly weapon.

Now I know!

And other than that? Well, I'm napping like a champion and getting back in the groove. I actually cooked dinner tonight, which is an improvement because last night I couldn't even brain takeout. Whoopee! Tonight I may even write words!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Home Brain

First of all, I can't brain-- but I am at home.

RT was, as usual, sort of a whirlwind--and I was, as usual, thrilled to be a part of it at the same time it exhausted me.

So a few observations here, and then I'm actually trying to do some work (yes, like writing and editing and such-- would you believe that's my job?) and then I'm going to bed.

*  So, I posted this on social media but it's no less true now: This hotel shower had two settings--My Toes Are Blue and My Ass is on Fire. Chicken couldn't even figure out how to turn it on--she called me in to wrestle with the spigot and when I asked her for the water temperature, she said, "I want my ass on fire."

*  The small mass market paperbacks were truly beautiful-- but the paper wasn't the hearty glossy stock of the trade paperbacks. Nope--this was good old fashioned wood pulp, and suddenly all my Sharpies were obsolete.

*  Also, Chicken teared up at the dedication of Crocus. 

*  I met and impressed author KM Jackson  by saying out loud that all small dogs are assholes. Now, I admit, you're often trying to meet and impress people at conventions, but I've never been so tickled to impress somebody by just swearing at a picture of my dog on the phone. Funny story? After I fell a little in love with her, Chicken went off to buy books at the Giant Book Fair and came back with To Me I Wed-- and a story about how awesome KM Jackson was, without ever hearing the "all small dogs are assholes" story. Yes, this writer is that fun/adorable/personable/awesome. Now you know.

* Karen Rose and I went on a yarn crawl-- I came back with a color called Phantasm and one called Love is Blind and some serious hopes about a hooded sweatshirt. We sat down to have drinks while I waited for Chicken and she waited for her husband, when Heidi Cullinan tracked me down (I had her bag in my car) and then Sonali Dev came and shared a drink and a story and generally? I had drinks with like AMAZING PEOPLE and am still coming down from the high of just being there. And Chicken arrived and went. "OMG, Sonali Dev? I LOVE YOUR BOOK!" because I brought home BollyWood Affair from RWA two years ago. *sniffle* Yup. RT. It's a good place.

*  Shea Connor, Kate McMurray, Rayna Vause, LaQuette, Elle Brownlee and I all put on a Bar Trivia event, and Keira Andrews won because--in her words--she was hyper-competitive. But Keira OWNS most of our books and is from Canada to boot, so she gave away all the books--even to a couple of girls wandering in from another event.

One of the girls--Christina-- was apparently an avid reader of mine, and she wandered in to Bar Trivia to have a stranger hand her a copy of Stand by Your Manny-- and her day was made. This made me phenomenally happy for the rest of the con.

*  For another event I was supposed to "play a Western Game".  0.0??????  I found a western card game called Round Up that was a lot like Spoons and a wonderful thing happened. Nobody wanted to play for prizes--they just wanted to sit at my table and play Spoons. I was so ticked--because I don't have a competitive bone in my body and I managed to find a winning game by thinking like my kids. Yay!

* I took Amelia, Elizabeth, Kate, Rayna, and Ariel to the same yarn store (Jimmy Beans store front) that Karen took me to, (Jimmy Beans Wool-- they also have the website at the link) and we closed the place down. Also, I taught Rayna to knit. Seriously-- you can't take me anywhere. The gold and purple is what I got from this buy. The Phantasm and Love is Blind are both oxblood colors.

*  As I was leaving right now, I realized I'd been a block away from a place called The Lucky Beaver and hadn't even known. L.A. Witt and I were both scandalized--they have a hamburger called The Lucky Beaver-- we could have eaten a beaver together.

And that's all I can think of right now-- Fish 3 is in edits and Familiar Demon needs words-- so much to do.

But gee it's good to be home!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

RT thus far!


I'm getting worse and worse at taking pictures for these events and better and better at just enjoying them.

This picture was taken by Karen Rose's PA-- two groovy chicks on a magic bus, during the 60's event, right?  Squish leant me her shawl--it fit the outfit so well!

This is Kim Fielding, Rayna Vause, and KJ Howe doing a panel in which they are experts-- a medical expert, a criminal justice expert, and a captivity expert-- great panel!

Also we have Amelia and Ariel, marketing Dreamspinner's Mass Market Paperback line--and yes, you may see Bonfires and Crocus in there-- I'm SO EXCITED!!!!  They go on sale on Saturday at the Giant Book Fair! By all means, if you're here, buy yourself a set and win a bear!

Below Ariel and Amelia, you have Mr. Damon Suede, looking very dapper and... Mad Hatter-ish, right?

He was dressed that way for another event and it was just too delicious to not wear for Wheel of Romance.

And that's just a taste.

I'm sort of falling asleep, to be honest--but I did get to talk to my family today. That's ZoomBoy wit his yearbook and Squish with her end of the year project. I'm so bummed--Monday, the kids both told us they had their equivalent of an Open House tonight. So while I wrapped up with Martinis and Dessert, and an amazing conversation with the perfectly wonderful Lynda Aicher, I finished feeling a little melancholy that I missed their triumph.

But it was an awesome day--SO long-- but I had to check in and say hi, I"m still alive, and RT 2018 is just as much fun as its predecessors.

And now? Asleep.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Pierce and Hal, Road Trip-- Detours

So-- if I want this to come out in Paperback, I need to finish the road trip stories by June. Who thinks I can get'er done?

These are part of the continuation stories from Regret Me Not, now available on amazon!

They stopped at an outlet store two days after North Carolina. Pierce said that it was getting cold enough that they both deserved something cozy after dealing with Hal's parents, especially as they navigated up north where winter got fucking real.

"Will it help us deal with the frostbite of visiting my parents?" Hal asked dryly as they both tried on thick coats.

Pierce wrapped a bright fleece scarf around Hal's neck and winked. "You'll have to check my toes tonight to make sure."

"Your toes? Is that a spot I've been neglecting?"  Oooh... interesting. Hal had never known a guy with sensitive feet.

Pierce thought about it. "Not that I know of." A dark red crescent formed at each high cheekbone. "I, uh, do like it when you massage my feet and legs though."

Hal did a little happy dance in the store. "And not just in the, 'Oh, thank you Mr. Professional I appreciate being pain free' way, right?"

Pierce snorted and turned toward a row of hats, grabbing a bright orange and purple stocking hat to go with the yellow scarf. "Uh, no. Not in that particular way."

Hal looked at the accessories with raised eyebrows. "Are you trying to tell me I'm gay?"

And those dark red crescents spread all over Pierce's face and neck. "I think we've already established you like men," he said primly. "I was just trying to tell you that you look good in bright colors. And..." Hal could practically feel the heat radiating from his body through the thick wool coat he was trying on. "And I like looking at you in them."

Pierce's flush seemed to be trying to spread to Hal. "Yeah?" he asked, suddenly shy. Would compliments like this ever stop turning his key? "Looking at me in them?"

"Yeah." Pierce nodded, teeth sinking into his lower lip. "Looking at you in them."

"Would you, perhaps, want to look at me out of them?" Hal prompted.

Pierce looked around the public dressing room--deserted in the week after New Years Day--and shook his head. Not surprising he wouldn't be in for public sex--there was a core of prim conservatism in Pierce. Not the ugly kind that disparaged or shamed, but the quaint kind that kept their relationship personal and private. "Here?"

Hal had to kiss him. "Later," he whispered, taking Pierce's mouth gently.

Pierce gasped and Hal had to thrust his tongue in, tasting that shyness, that want. Pierce held himself a little aloof--in public, not submitting--but Hal could feel the conflict, the urge to give in, to go for the kiss like it was a world event.

Hal raised his hand to cup Pierce's cheek and the tag dangling from his coat flapped a little with the movement. Pierce took a deep breath and stepped back. "Later," he promised.

Augh! Hal was erect and aching in his jeans. In college, he and his ex boyfriend would already be giving blowies in the corner, and not regret getting kicked out of the store. But Pierce, blushing, shedding the coat into the mesh bag, fumbling for the plain blue scarf he'd picked out to go with it--Pierce would be mortified.

Hal wouldn't change their banter, their playful conversation, their optimism about the future--any of it--for a public blowjob. He may be young, but he wasn't stupid. Pierce was worth so much more.

"Not the blue one," he said, voice rough.

Pierce was startled into looking up. "No?"

"It's plain. The light blue one with the red pattern on it. See? Not plain. Not nipple-piercing yellow, but not plain."

Oh, that shy smile would be his undoing. "Okay," he said, and there was Hal's pliant lover, the one who trusted him, even when his body was sore and his heart a little tentative. "We'll take it."

Hal took the bag from him so he could wield his cane and they grabbed some fleece gloves for Pierce--dark blue--on their way out. After two weeks of dealing with the mild cold of the south, they were ready to deal with the absolute real cold of the east coast.

They got back into the car again and drove, passing through Maryland and around DC reluctantly.

"I want to see the Natural History museum," Pierce fretted. "I've never been. And the archives and the Capitol--"

"I've seen them," Hal soothed. "But there's a lot of walking. I mean, a lot. You can't just stop and take a cab while you're in the middle of the Air and Space Museum, you know? Maybe we can, you know..."  For some reason his heart thundered in his throat. This led to the idea that this road trip--this vacation of sorts--was not the be all/end all of their relationship. They'd joked that it was a honeymoon before the wedding--but they weren't planning a wedding, not yet. This was a "Next time we take a bucket list vacation together," sentence, and he hadn't realized it until it snuck up on him and grabbed him by the lapels.

"Next year," Pierce said casually. "It's easier for us to visit Sasha than for her to visit us, right? And I'm making progress by leaps and bounds. Next year, I'll be up to more better travel. Besides, my house only has two bedrooms--they'd have to stay in a hotel."

Hal swallowed, and that ache in his groin that had never really gone away since the department store, renewed again with a vicious throb. This man promised him a home, just that simply. Promised him forever. More trips. More holidays where kids played and hot chocolate was a necessity and people hugged each other after the count of ten. More of Pierce, dryly funny and needy--so needy--but giving that prim little gasp and pulling away because the things Hal wanted to do to his healing body were not meant to be done in public.

Hal would do them in Times Square, but that Pierce wanted those things, just the two of them, together--that was even better.

So, no Smithsonian or Washington Tour for them this trip.  Instead they stopped in Delaware, driving through a heavily wooded section at Pierce's direction. They wound their way to a clearing near a river, where the houses sat maybe every quarter of a mile or so, before pulling up to a two-story clapboard house with red trim and a rainbow of lawn art and wind chimes in the front.  Hal got the "go bag" as they'd been calling it--the single small roller board with their shaving kits and pajamas and a single change of clothing in it--and they walked up the stairs to knock on the door together.

The door was thrown open by a middle-aged jovial man with thinning hair and bifocals and a mostly gray beard. "Pierce Atwater?"

Pierce raised his hand. "Yeah, that's us. Jordan Waters?"

"Yes sir. You and your fella come on in. Here, young man. Let me get the suitcase-- you two got here just in time for dinner. Here--hang up your coats, wash up and sit down, my wife is serving everybody in the main room."

Jordan disappeared down the hallway and Pierce and Hal followed, taking his direction to hang up their coats on the pegboard by the door and make a right into the cheery yellow kitchen.

Mrs. Waters was a perfect counterpoint to her husband--plump, cheery, with graying brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, she smiled at them both then gestured with her chin because her hands were full with a platter of carved roast. "Go in and wash up, then come sit down. We've got a full house tonight, boys. Let's meet everybody."

Hal found himself smiling back and Pierce nodded. "Thank you much, ma'am. We'll be right back."

"This is nice," Hal murmured as he soaped up.

"My buddy recced it," Pierce said happily. "Said it was the friendliest B&B he'd ever visited.

"Mm. I don't trust it."

"Don't trust it?" Pierce knit his brows. "What's not to trust?"

"This looks like the family I should have had but got cheated out of. When do they turn to you and ask why you brought your nephew instead of a nice young wife."

Pierce guffawed. "You know, I booked this place because it was friendly. Maybe I did that for a reason?"

Hal closed his eyes and inhaled--roast beef, potatoes, gravy, and some sort of green with cheese on it. "You're trying to fatten me up to eat me?" he hazarded.

Pierce leaned in, an unexpectedly wicked look in his eyes. "Eat dinner with the nice people and behave. The eating will come later."

Hal's mouth dried up and he almost choked on his tongue. "I hate you. I mean, I love you but now I gotta go out and talk to strangers and eat roast beast with a woody."

Pierce's unrepentant chuckle led the way out to the dining room, where an assortment of strangers smiled pleasantly and talked about the historical sights of Pennsylvania and asked which plays they were seeing in New York and generally reaffirmed his faith in mankind again after the awful visit with his parents.

And the roast beast was orgasmically delicious and did nothing to diminish the fierceness of his woody.

By the time they made it past the stairs and to the one bedroom on the ground floor, Hal's stomach was pleasantly sated and his cheeks ached from smiling.

But his want for Pierce hadn't diminished one bit.

He moved just close enough to Pierce to brush his backside with a suggestive hand.  "Mm... yes?" he asked, loving that Pierce would get his shorthand.

"Mm... shower. You first," Pierce replied, voice breathy. "I have a plan."

Hal sucked in a breath. "You have a plan?"  Hal usually had the plan. He was good at the plan. He was excellent at the plan.

But that didn't mean he didn't look forward to somebody else's plan. To Pierce's plan.

Pierce's heated gaze when he got out of the shower didn't make things any better. Hal grinned and tightened the towel around his waist, feeling heat wash up his neck and across his chest as Pierce grinned back.

"You have a plan," Hal said primly.

"I do."

"Well, remember, whatever your plan is, I might double-go-down on it, so you need to shower too."

Pierce laughed, letting his bathrobe fall as he stepped into the bathroom. "I'll shower but only just in case."

Hm... just in case?  Hal pulled back the decadently fluffy, Monet colored comforter to find the also-decadently fluffy mattress covered in sky blue sheets. He spread the towel on the mattress, right dead center, because things might get messy, and then threw himself on the bed face down and sighed, the rigors of driving not washed away by the shower seeping from his bones.

He might have dozed off a little, because when he came too, Pierce was kissing his way from the back of Hal's knee up his thigh.

"You're going to tickle," Hal mumbled into the marshmallow pillow.

Pierce upped the pressure--but otherwise didn't stray from his course. Hal felt the bed depress behind him, and was unsurprised when Pierce nudged his knees apart.

"What're'oo'doooing..." Hal mumbled, drugged by the warmth of Pierce's body between his knees, by the feel of his lips in the soft upper part of his thigh, by the pulsing haze of arousal that had surround him since the store.

"I'm going to tease you," Pierce promised, nuzzling that particularly sensitive spot right behind Hal's buttock. He added a little tongue and the fullness of Hal's erection returned with a vengeance.

"Just teasing?" Hal arched his hips and repositioned his cock, stopping to squeeze, and to shiver.

Pierce parted his cheeks and blew slightly into his crease, and Hal's squeeze on his cock turned into a stroke. Hal moaned and Pierce smacked his bottom. "Stop that!"

"You're taking too long!" Hal complained--but he put both hands up near his head, flat against the mattress.

"Stay right there." The mattress shifted and for a moment Hal was exposed to the air, tingling with arousal. Another shift, and Pierce put a clean sock in Hal's hand. "Hold onto that," Pierce ordered softly. "And tell me no if you don't wanna."

"Don't wanna...nungh!"

Pierce licked boldly up his crease. Hal's cock and balls were aching, and the stimulation in this other erogenous zone set his whole body on fire.

"I always wanna rim--job!"

Pierce did it again and Hal yanked on the sock between his hands to keep his hips firmly pressed against the bed. "Nungh!"

More licking--specific licking. A tongue concentrating in one sensitive pink space kind of licking. Hal lost himself in it, the tongue, the licking, the lubed finger... "Mmm?"

"Bad?" Pierce asked.

"Good," Hal mumbled. He topped--Pierce. But in his other relationships he... hadn't. This wasn't about who was the dominant or who called the shots. This was about... oh God, another finger. Yes!

Pierce pulled both fingers out and Hal whimpered. "Roll over," Pierce told him. "I have a--"

"You'd better say surprise dick," Hal said excitedly, rolling over carefully so he didn't whack Pierce in the head with his foot.

Pierce rocked back on his knees and laughed throatily, and oh my God, he was naked, in the light. A month and a half--really? It had been a month and a half--the thought was staggering--but a month and a half of making love in the dark, because Pierce was ashamed of his body, of his scars, of the muscles that hadn't built back yet, and here he was, naked, a sex flush washing his freckled body from groin to his throat, his erection practically purple and shiny to boot.

Hal looked at him, drank him in, so beautiful, and swallowed. "Come here," he whispered, holding out his arms.

"But I was going to--"

"You can top from on top of me while I kiss you. It's why it's topping."

"I can not," Pierce mumbled, stretching out anyway. Oh God. He could do that. Yes, he'd been in pain on Hal's parents doorstep, but two days of recovery, of massages, of short drives, and he could move like a man who very much wanted to go body to body with his younger lover, and Hal groaned with the silken luxury of skin on skin.

He couldn't even breathe before he kissed Pierce, their bodies undulating on the plush mattress, Pierce's cock wasted in a pleasant free-for-all around Hal's cock, which actually ached.

Hal's asshole missed the stretch, the burn, and he needed. "Rock back on your knees," he instructed, and Pierce did, carefully, but not wincing. "Now--"

Pierce thrust against his ring, breached him. "I know how to fuck," he muttered, thrusting forward slowly.

"Ah! God! You so do!"

Pierce kept pushing forward, more, more, and Hal let out a low moan and a shudder. Ah, God, he loved this. He had forgotten how much he loved this, but... oh yes!

"Good?" Pierce rasped.

"Nungh! Gah! Yes! Don't stop!"

A dreamy smile washed over Pierce's lean features. "Never." He set an easy pace then, not too hard, not too fast, just slow and sure enough to drive Hal out of his everlovin mind.

"Pierce..." He was pleading. "Can you?"

Pierce shook his head, half-regret, half-wickedness. "Fast as I can go, baby. You're gonna just have to..."

"Ah! Ah! Ah!"  They couldn't yell or shout or scream each other's names--but that quiet privacy that Hal had recognized in the changing room, here in a bed, in this fantasy bedroom, it became something more potent, something stronger.


Pierce's body in his was intimate--as so many others had not been. The wickedness gleaming in his eyes was a charm only for Hal. Pierce's smell--soap and Pierce--and his sharp little gasps as he thrust--those were Hal's, made for him as nothing else in a life of monogrammed desk sets and embossed iPhones had been.

And because this moment, Pierce filling him, giving him all the sex his healing body could handle--this moment--was only theirs, it was enough. No pounding, no screaming, no raw animal sex, it was still almost more than Hal could handle. He gasped, sweating, needing, too full of emotion, of sex, of pleasure to bear it.

"Help yourself," Pierce invited, arching his back and sucking in his stomach so Hal could fit his hand in.

But he didn't need to. The change in position, the little ripple of his hips, and... Hal let out a sobbing breath and climaxed, the orgasm pulled from his body in a haze of pleasure and passion and need.

His come spattered, hot and sticky between them, and Pierce threw his head back, gritting his teeth. Hal kept clenching, still shaking, and that was what Pierce needed to send him over.

Hal could feel him, scalding and vibrant as he pumped inside Pierce's body. The heat of it, the knowledge that this man would be inside him forever, visceral and real, sent Hal into one more spasm.

Pierce groaned and collapsed, still solidly lodged in Hal's ass, and Hal whimpered.

"I hur you?"

"No. Just... so good."

"Mmm... I may not be able to move tomorrow."

"You'll be great," Hal told him. "God, the way I feel, tomorrow we can fly."

"Course. For you, I'll fly."

Hal chuckled weakly. "You know something?"

"What." With a grunt and a tiny pain sound Pierce pulled out of him and rolled off, and for a moment they were naked and cooling under the ceiling fan and the heating vent. "Besides me needing help with my shorts."

"In a minute." Hal reached over and traced an invisible line down the curve of Pierce's shoulder, the gentle bulge of his bicep. Even at peak fitness, he'd still be lean.  "This is important."

"Hm?" Pierce turned his head, his eyes that clear green/hazel that Hal could only see with the lights on.

"You know how you promised me forever and we both believed it could happen?"


"It's more than just belief, you know?"

"What do you mean?" A tiny frown knit between PIerce's brows, and Hal rolled over just to trace it.

"It's like we're already living forever. It's happening every day between us. We've been together six weeks, and it's not nearly enough, but it's a beginning. We've started. I mean, I kept thinking once we got to Sacramento that's when it would start. But we're already a beginning. We're moving to the beginning of the middle, and I can't wait."

Pierce's smile would always have that hint of shyness that made Hal want to squeeze him so tight nothing could hurt him again.

"Don't have to wait. Just kiss me again. We're on our way."

Hal closed his eyes and took his mouth, letting the intimacy flow through him, permeate his bones. This was real. It wasn't "happening", it had "happened", and they would make it continue to happen even after they got to Pierce's home and they rediscovered normal in each other's arms.

*  *  *

New York was--well, that really felt like a Honeymoon.

Pierce was good to walk carefully for a couple of blocks and they were near the theater district. Three plays in three nights--they didn't get to see Hamilton, but Something Rotten was a go, and Hal was in heaven.

They ate at a burger place that served duck burgers and buffalo burgers one night, and at an Italian place that served a chicken parmisan to die for the next, and on the day after that, Korean Barbecue that Hal would never forget.

On the third day it snowed heavily, so on the fourth day, they took a cab to the Met.

"Really?" Hal asked. "You want to see a museum?"

"You don't?" Pierce sounded stunned, like it was unthinkable that somebody wouldn't want to go see... what? A bunch of old art? But whatever.

"No, no-- we did the Statue of Liberty the first day, and the plays have been great! You want to see art, we'll see art."  Pierce had sat on a bench in the cold and rested while Hal went to climb inside the statue, but when Hal came back outside, Pierce had such an amazingly serene look on his face. He'd needed to sit in a warm tub for an hour after they got back before he could get dressed for the play, but Hal would have skipped the play just to see the peace in his heart that came from taking Hal somewhere wonderful.

Pierce got a gentle smile on his face in that moment and for the first time Hal remembered he was older. "Sure," he said, grabbing Hal's hand and kissing his knuckles. "We'll see art."

Hal bit his lip and looked away. "There's nothing wrong with art," he said, trying to leach the doubt from his voice.

"Of course not," Pierce said mildly before wincing. "Just like there's nothing wrong with coming back a little early, taking a hot shower, watching some television and--"

"And having hot sex." Hal nodded fervently-- he knew how to keep his priorities straight.

"Well duh." Pierce winked and wrapped a warm scarf around his neck and grabbed his new thick winter coat.

And the Metropolitan Museum of Art was... well, it was amazingly grand.

The great marble entryway inspired hush and reverence--even with the crowd. And Pierce looked at the exhibits and chose carefully--the Egypt exhibit had to wait, there was stained glass and Impressionist paintings to see.

Together they walked slowly through the stained glass exhibit, where some of the windows were backlit against dark backgrounds, so they could be seen as they were meant to be seen.

And oh, the colors were extraordinary, every shape a marvel in precision, every color placement an inspired bit of rainbow magic.

They came to one window, a three-paneled landscape, with vines of vinca wrapped around the panel edging, and a garden of wildflowers beyond, with a sunset peeking through purple clouds, and Hal actually stopped and caught his breath.

"That... that looks like what summer should look like," he said quietly. "Like... like I think of your house, with a pool, and... and looking out your back door, and I know it's stupid, but that's what I think it should be."

Pierce looked stricken. "It's small," he apologized. "But it's going to fit a pool, and there are rosebushes and bougainvillea and marigolds that we pay a gardener to keep. But..." He grimaced. "It's not glorious, you know. It's just..."

But it didn't matter. Something about the colors, the contract, the beauty so bright it hurt the eye, had already broken Hal's heart and remade it.

"We can buy a print of this?" he asked hopefully.

"I"m sure." It was one of the most prized windows in the collection.

"I want to frame it. Because... because coming home with you, this is what it feels like. Even if it's all weeds and dirt and a giant hole in the ground... this is what the thought of home with you feels like."

Oh, fuck.

His eyes weren't just burning. His throat wasn't just swollen. He was crying with the exquisiteness of the dream.

But Pierce didn't seem to mind. People streamed around them, but Pierce stopped and pulled the sleeve of his sweater over his palm so he could wipe Hal's cheeks.

"It's a map," he said, his own eyes shiny.

"A map?" Hal asked his throat still thick.

"You know, people only get perfection in art, right? But it's like... like a map to the soul. We'll get the print, and this can be our map. This is what we'll want our life to look like. And even if we get it wrong sometimes, and the pool gets shitty and the flowers die, we know that when we look in our hearts, we want this, and we'll work to make it happen."

Hal smiled through the stupid emotional tears that were starting to piss him off. "That's how unicorns work," he said soberly.

A tear tracked down Pierce's cheek, but he nodded anyway. "And that's us, right?"


Pierce kissed him then, their breath mingling with salt, and then he pulled away. "You ready to keep going?" he asked after a moment.

Hal nodded, remembering that night at the Bed and Breakfast. "I"m really ready for the beginning of the middle," he said soberly.

Pierce bit his lip. "Well, you know, we were going to go north and see all the stuff up there, but you know something?"

Hal half-laughed. He'd seen the weather reports too. "It's fucking January?" he said.

"Yeah. One more day in New York to sleep, and let's just go home."

Hal's heart suddenly opened up to that stained glass vista. "So, like, we can be..." And the word made him catch in his throat, because he realized, right then in front of that image of unachievable perfection, that this thing in this window was a thing he'd never had. "We can be home?"

"Five days, balls out," Pierce confirmed.

Hal threw his arms around him, holding him tight and shaking. "Being home with you is better than this picture," he said.

"You haven't heard me whine after five days balls-out driving," Pierce gasped, but he didn't struggle out of Hal's embrace. They needed it too much, needed he contact, the promise, the affirmation of all the things they'd said on Christmas Eve--almost four weeks before.

"I'll take anything you can dish out," Hal promised--mostly because Pierce's shitty moods were never as bad as advertised, but also because he could. He could be strong when Pierce needed it.

Mostly because in moments just like this one, Pierce could be absolutely everything Hal needed.

"Good." Pierce went limp in his arms, in that way he hadn't that day in the dressing room. "I want you home more than anything."

Another breath. Another heartbeat. Another moment drawing strength from each other, and they drew apart. Logically they were headed for the food court for lunch, and then to see the Impressionists. But as they turned their back on that perfect view of the world for the admittedly imperfect world of their own hearts, they knew they were really taking their first real steps home.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Bean and Things


Thanks everybody so much for checking in on the Kermit Flail-- it was my biggest, best attended Flail ever and I can't thank you all enough!


And now, back to my regularly scheduled freaking out about RT...

Tonight we started Avengers Swag Assemble-- and I have to say, every year I have them do something a little more bizarre.

"Squish! You mix all the white packing material into fake-snow-soup! ZoomBoy, you put the stickers on all the tiny decorative paper bags!"

"Mom, what are you doing?"

"I'm measuring a half-a-cup of dirt into a ziplock snack-size baggie-- are we all clear on our goals?"


"Meet back in the living room to put it all together-- trust me, kids, it's gonna be great!"




"You heard me, kids, BREAK!"

"Yeah, whatever, beats working..."

But bless their hearts, they did it!  I'll take pictures tomorrow, because we're all still doing our parts, but if I can NOT break the 2"x2" terra-cotta pots, it's gonna be cute as hell.

So anyway--the bean thing...

Chicken gave Squish her old art tablet for animation, and Squish... well, she learned to animate. The .gif set is a bean--that looks much like Squish. Maybe next time, she'll animate herself smiling--because this certainly made me smile!


Monday, May 7, 2018

*KERMIT FLAIL* The HUGE-ASSED Summer Reading Starts in May Edition!

Hoalleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee WOW! 

So I had a couple of people lined up for Kermit Flail-- E.J. Russell, Dean Frech, Kim Fielding-- and I was happy with that, but I thought, "Hey--maybe if I asked, more people would want to go on the Flail, right?"  Because you all know that the Flail is better when there's more!  

So I put out an all-call, expecting, what? Three or four more people?

Oh my God you guys! There are TWENTY people on this list. TWENTY. 2x2x5.  (I think that's how the kids do that in math.)

So anyway-- usually I would spend some time telling you about everybody, right?  Like EJ who was nominated for a RITA this year and I'm not gonna let you forget it. Or Kim for whom I wrote a "how we met" story for the DSP celebration and whose Bureau series has been on my TBR pile forEVER. Or Sara, who spent a half-an-hour next to me in an elevator and didn't threaten to kill me once, in spite of how annoying I probably was!  (Sara, when we write our "how we met" story, the elevator is going in there!) Or L.A. Witt whom I owe words for a co-write or Ari Mckay or Rowan McAllister or...

You all get the picture.

I have wonderful stories for most of you--even if it's just, "This person said something LOVELY to me online the other day just when I was going to chuck in the computer and buy a chicken farm!" 

But there's twenty-two books here, right? And they all look amazing. 

So I'm going to cut the "I LOVE ALL THESE PEOPLE!!!" intros a little short and go on to "BOOYAH LOOK AT ALL THE BOOKS!"

Cause the books look special and awesome and amazing.

But if you get a chance to, by all means get to know the people online.

They're pretty damned awesome and amazing too. 

Nudging Fate

by E.J. Russell

An Enchanted Occasions Story

Not exactly a match made in Valhalla.

Half-norn event planner Anders Skuldsson is under strict orders from Asgard not to meddle with Fate. But with Enchanted Occasions’ latest booking—a competition for the hand of Faerie’s one true prince—crashing around his ears, it’s really difficult to toe that particular line. But if Andy pretends to be a contender for the prince…. It’s only temporary, so Odin can’t blame him. Right?

Conall of Odstone’s half-brother, Prince Reyner, was supposed to choose a mate before being crowned and wed. But the idiot left Con to impersonate him. Again.

When Con meets Andy, his anger turns to desire… and despair. Even if Andy forgives him for his imposture, how could someone eligible for a prince’s hand settle for the court outcast? And the double-deception isn’t their only obstacle. Unless Andy makes the right choice, their fates could be sealed by…well… Fate.

The Tendire Gate
Ashovan Doyon

After Doomsday, there wasn’t much left—a world that had fallen apart. It hadn’t been enough to boil the oceans and raze the surface with fire. With that scorched earth had come a final solution, the contagion. In a world where every breath was ash and disease, few survived.

The Imperium hunted them, extracting healthy flesh to extend the life of the powerful. All the while, soaring unseen, the tools of an old order search. Hidden far from the sight of the ruthless Imperium, deep beneath the earth, the DIRE stations offer renewal—an exit from the destruction of the world.

Those ships, like a phoenix, rise with the last refugees to bring them to DIRE, hoping that a keeper yet lives to hold open the only chance of escape.
Buy links: 

Orderly Affair

by D.J. Jamison

A hospital orderly explores his bisexuality with an adorably geeky lab tech, but can their sparks lead to love outside the closet?

When Ian Connolly installs a hookup app to explore his long-suppressed attraction to men, he doesn't expect to connect with anyone he knows, especially not lab tech Callum Price. But from their first scorching encounter, he's hooked.

Callum hasn't had the best luck with love, and he's suffocating under a pile of responsibilities. But when he sees an opportunity to blow off steam with Ian, he takes it. The man is smoking hot, big all over, and sweet as pie.

Their chemistry is off the charts, but a relationship is more challenging. Callum remains stubbornly self-reliant, while Ian tries too hard to be his rock. But if Ian can be honest with his family about loving a man, maybe Callum can admit his own truth: He wants a man he can count on, a man just like Ian.

A Chance at Love

by Sylvia Violet

On the flight back home to San Diego, Chance Emerson meets an intriguing older man. They flirt, and Chance hopes for more, but the man never calls. Months later, they meet again at a charity auction. Chance decides this time he isn’t walking away.

Darren Walsh can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous grad student who almost had him joining the mile-high club. When Chance suggests they hook up, Darren says the only thing he can—yes.

From their first moments together, Chance and Darren know there’s more between them than lust, but their differences in age and income make a real relationship challenging. They decide to keep things secret, yet as they learn more about each other, Darren realizes he wants something real and open. To have that, he’ll need to convince Chance that he has a place in Darren’s world, and Darren will have to take some risks of his own.

The Eager Boy

by Sean Michael 

Eight months ago Robin Secoya left his lover and master, Stack Lobond, because he didn’t believe Stack really cared about him. He was sure that for Stack, any warm body would do, and Robin wasn’t willing to be just a warm body anymore.

A chance meeting at the Iron Eagle Gym brings them back together, and old feelings aren’t far from the surface. They decide they can’t pass up a second chance at romance. But this time, it isn’t just Stack’s demanding career as a big-cat vet putting strain on their relationship. Robin also has a new job that takes up a lot of his time.

Will their kinky love affair crash and burn a second time, or can they find the balance that will allow the passion between them to flourish?

The You I Knew

by LL Dahlin 

Jeremy Adams life as he knew it was shattered thirteen months ago when he lost his husband Weston, the love of his life. The accident spared his husband's identical twin, Smith McKnight. When an unsuspecting Smith comes to check up on Jeremy, things happen that probably shouldn't have, causing Jeremy to decide that he has to put the past in the past and move on.

Smith McKnight is trying to put his life back together after the horrific accident that left him lost and confused, living with amnesia is like a blank slate with flashes from the past thrown in. With his soon to be ex-wife and family saying he's Smith, he tries to live up to the name. When his brother's husband, Jeremy touches him the future and the past become crystal clear. With the anniversary of the accident approaching he can't bear to tell his family, who have been working their way through the stages of grief, that something is off. While keeping certain facts to themselves, it's hard not to notice how much this dilemma is hurting the ever-honest Jeremy, truly the deception is breaking them both down.

At the end of the day are you going to be who people tell you to be, or are you going to be the person you know you are? The fate of his love and his life depends on the answer.

There Goes My Bailey

by LL Dahlin

There hasn't ever been a time when Scott Callahan hadn't looked at his big brother's best friend Bailey and not known that he was the man of his dreams. Especially when they were children and the man-sized boy made sure the bullies stayed away from him. Unfortunately, the man is straight...or so he thought, but after a less than innocent situation appears to drive the man from their small town, Scott's not too sure. Scott's brother Ollie is pissed his friend has up and left him and demands that his brother not bother his friend again. Now that Bailey was back, the promise that wasn't hard to keep for all these years, was becoming much more difficult.

Harold Bailey is known for being many things...a hater of his first name, the one to call when there is trouble and being big and tall, but being a coward isn't one of them. It only took a night with Scott to change a whole lot of things he knew about himself and his desires, but it took eight years for him to make it back to his hometown. He's finally stopped running and wants to explore whatever was between him and the man he couldn't stop thinking about no matter how far away from home he'd moved, but it appears that ship has sailed...or has it

Buy on Amazon


by Kim Fielding

Alone in a cell and lacking memories of his past, John has no idea who—or what—he is.

Alone on the streets of 1950s Los Angeles, Harry has far too many memories of his painful past and feels simply resignation in facing his empty future.

When Harry is given a chance to achieve his only dream—to become an agent with the Bureau of Trans-Species Affairs—all he has to do is prove his worth. Yet nothing has ever come easy for him. Now he must offer himself and John as bait, enticing a man who wants to conquer death. But first he and John must learn what distinguishes a monster from a man—and what a monster truly wants.

The Wanderer (Chronicles of the Riftlands book1)

by Rowan McAllister

After centuries of traveling the continent of Kita and fighting the extradimensional monsters known as Riftspawn, mage Lyuc is tired and ready to back away from the concerns of humanity.

But the world isn’t done with him yet.

While traveling with a merchant caravan, Lyuc encounters Yan, an Unnamed, the lowest caste in society. Though Yan has nothing but his determination and spirit, he reminds Lyuc what passion and desire feel like. While wild magic, a snarky, shapeshifting, genderfluid companion, and the plots of men and monsters seem determined to keep Lyuc from laying down his burden, only Yan’s inimitable spirit tempts him to hang on for another lifetime or so.

All Yan wants is to earn the sponsorship of a guild so he can rise above his station, claim a place in society, and build the family he never had.

After hundreds of years of self-imposed penance, all Lyuc wants is Yan.

If they can survive prejudice, bandits, mercenaries, monsters, and nature itself, they might both get their wish… and maybe even their happily ever after.

The World Traveler

by Claire Castle

*note: This title isn't available for pre-order but you can find information about it's release here, on May, 9, 2018)

Charming Taylor Samuels doesn’t expect his sister’s video audition to appear on the reality television show The World Traveler to result in anything. 

When they are chosen to compete, he can do nothing but hope for the best.

When Adam Scott’s best friend wants them to try to get on The World Traveler, Adam agrees, to make his best friend happy. 

As the reality sets in that they will be competing, Adam tries not to panic too much.

Little do they know that a twist in the show will see Taylor and Adam’s worlds collide in a way they never imagined. Will everything go horribly wrong or could this be the perfect beginning to a wonderful journey?

Songs of the Sea

by Dean Frech

Sartin’s amber eyes told his mother and the rest of the pod that he was destined to become a great protector from the day he was born. Mocked by the majority of the pod for his progressive practice of self-injury to lure predators away, Sartin doesn’t feel like he's leading the life of any of the great warriors his mother and aunts have told him about. Hoping to find a mate at his twenty-third Winter Meeting, an injury and storm take Sartin far away from Winter Cove. Nursed back to health by a land person, Sartin finds love and acceptance. Torn between the adoration and appreciation of the person who saves him and his love of the sea, must Sartin choose between two worlds to find happiness to fulfill his destiny?


by L.A. Witt

Cruising, Book #1

After Andrew Wentz loses his job, his parents take pity and invite him to join them on a Mediterranean cruise. He jumps at the chance, but once he’s aboard, he feels guilty. Shouldn’t he be figuring out what to do with his pathetic life instead of lazing around on a ship?

The cruise was supposed to be Eric Schofield’s honeymoon, but one cheating fiancĂ© later, he’s traveling solo. Fine. He’s been working too much anyway, so a vacation is exactly what the doctor ordered. He’s on a boat with plenty of hot men, and he’s determined to invite as many of them as he can into his stateroom’s king sized bed.

When the two men run into each other—literally—it’s crush at first sight. Now Andrew can’t think of anyone else, and Eric only wants one man in his bed. The sparks fly, and it’s the perfect vacation fling, especially since ten days isn’t nearly enough time to develop feelings.

At least, it’s not supposed to be.

This transgender gay romance is 49,000 words


by Elle Keaton

No one ever claimed it would be easy.

Running away from his messy divorce did not bring Ira Fragale the peace he sought. If he’s going to get his life together, he needs to pull up his big-boy pants and take care of business. He’s been hiding out in Skagit, licking his wounds, for two years now. Keeping his head down, except for the trail of twinks he’s left behind. Something’s gotta give.

Bartending at the Loft is easy, and Cameron McCulloch likes the friendship community he’s developed since his family rejected him, but he wants more. To get that, Cam needs to knock Ira off the pedestal he's placed him on. Ira's older, but that doesn't mean he has any clearer handle on life and the universe than Cam. Cam needs to focus on his own needs and forget about Ira, but he can’t.

Ira didn’t choose Skagit at random; decades-old events set him on the path he is on today. The mystery of his father’s murder may never be solved, but Ira would like to lay his spirit to rest.

None of this explains why Cameron is suddenly the target of a series of hate crimes. The small town of Skagit has its share of trouble, but someone has it in for the LGBTQ community, and Cameron is directly in their crosshairs.

MM Romance

Love You So Madly 

by Tara Lane
Ben Shane has it all… and he’d like to give some of it back. While he loves his job heading a foundation that funds worthy causes around the world, his engagement to one of America’s wealthiest men leaves him feeling more like a trophy wife than a valued partner. The first warning that his relationship might not be designed to last is his irresistible lust for Dusty Kincaid, the golden-haired, bright-eyed handyman for his company.Though Dusty is odd for a twenty-three-year-old—no liquor, no sugar, and he can’t even drive—the more Ben gets to know Dusty, the more he admires him. But is Ben going to give up a guy who drives a Ferrari for one who takes the bus? He must be mad. Dusty knows he and Ben can never work. After all, Ben’s perfect… and Dusty isn’t. But Ben might surprise everyone with proof that he’s only madly in love.

Exorcising the Exes

by Jill Wexler

Thanks to their exes, Tanner Kennedy and Dan Markwell each believes himself to be a social mess, an embarrassment to be with, and not worth any man’s interest. When the two men begin talking about their exes, it’s as if they’d dated the same man.

Over a taco orgy, Tanner convinces Dan that they need to combat the scars left by their dating past with exorcisms, only via Instagram instead of holy water. They spend spring break together, purposely acknowledging the little things that their exes pushed upon them or told them to change. Posting to an anonymous Instagram account they created, Exorcising the Exes, they soon banish the demons of their exes with hashtags like #margaritasleadtolooselips and #hellyeahgummybears.

Instagramming their way to self-acceptance, Tanner and Dan also discover what it’s like to fall for someone who likes them for exactly who they are, #notperfectnotaproblem.

Warning for the reader: Uppity and rude Canadian geese flock throughout this novella. You’ve been warned.

Buy at Amazon

Coming in Hot

by Carmen Cook

Regan Sinclair swore nothing would ever bring her back to Sapphire Creek. But a failed marriage and unemployment are strong motivators. It’s time to brave the demons she left in her past. Alone. 

Gavin McCabe rarely thinks of Regan, or the one incredible night they spent together. Not since she walked out of his life without a backwards glance. But when she walks back into his life, he sees the opportunity for answers. And maybe a second chance.

An overwhelming attraction flares to life every time the two of them are near each other, but their heat is quickly overshadowed. Their tight knit community is facing an unknown threat and Regan seems to be in the middle of it. Can she find solid ground with Gavin before this unknown menace crushes their burgeoning relationship?

Buy at Amazon

Forged in Fire

by Ari McKay
The magic touch.
Ever since Harlan Edgewood was bitten by a possessed werewolf, his monthly shifts have been agonizing. When he meets Whimsy Hickes—a mage who specializes in transformation—the attraction is mutual. But Harlan believes his curse is too great a burden to inflict on any romantic partner.

Fortunately, Whimsy thinks he can help.

When Harlan is provoked into an unexpected change, Whimsy uses his magic to help ease Harlan’s pain, but with an unexpected consequence. While he’s shifted, Harlan’s wolf claims Whimsy as his mate.

As they draw closer, suspicious events in the Asheville magical community escalate. Shifters are disappearing, others are murdered, and Harlan’s curse makes him an obvious target. It will take all of Whimsy’s magic to force back the rising evil—and if he fails, Harlan will lose not only his life, but his very soul.

Swings and Roundabouts

by Jackie Keswick

Jack Horwood. Vigilante, hacker, security specialist. Partner to Gareth Flynn. Adoptive father to their two teenage boys. Happily juggling long days and short nights.

Gareth Flynn. Ex-army officer. Ace negotiator. Righter of wrongs. Family man. Away from home more often than he likes.

Desperate for a relationship reset, Jack treats Gareth to a romantic getaway and Sweden’s frigid peace gives them the break they both need. But Jack’s a trouble magnet and the next dead body just a wild skidoo ride away.

Can love, teamwork, and trust survive the troubles that follow them around? Can Jack save what’s become so important to him?

Expect action, drama, and hot romance in book 4 of the Power of Zeroseries.

Buy at Amazon

Tooth and Nail

by Sara Lunsford

(Sale priced during May)
“The Vigilante” was my case. He killed killers. Rapists. Drug-dealing scum. All the ugly crumbs that fell through the cracks of willfully blind justice. I spent five years hunting him until I realized I didn’t really want to catch him. So I walked away—from the case, from my failure, from my big-city life in Detroit to start over with my husband in Merryn, Kansas.

My devils came with me. Bodies matching his M.O. were found in a cold storage unit wrapped up in macabre tribute—each victim with some tie to me. He won’t let me go, won’t let me run. There’s part of me that doesn’t want him to. It’s the same part that wonders if his way might be the only way. At least as far as my husband is concerned. I found Jacob’s Altoids tin in our fire pit—it was full of human teeth. Trophies from the women he raped. He’s a special investigator for the KBI, assigned to the task force that’s supposed to be hunting this master predator. He’ll never be caught unless someone takes matters into their own hands. When he’s sleeping soundly, so trusting next to me in the dark, I tell myself I’m a good cop. I’m no Vigilante.

But I’ve been wrong before.

Buy Here  

Sale Price: .99 until May 29th, then it goes back to regular price of 7.99.

Like a Surge

by Olivette Devaux

Paul can’t touch anything electronic. Cell phones fry, breakers trip, the grid collapses. But now, having moved to Pittsburgh with his twin to help Cooper and Ash, his “gift” threatens to unveil the special powers of them all.

Russ teaches high-voltage techniques at a local vo-tech institute. He hides his mental illness of “seeing things” as best as he can – until Paul lands in his classroom. Paul, whose field glows the same as the strongest appliance. An irresistible young man who strives not for higher learning, but for control.

Their mutual gifts mesh as though fated, their attraction sets off sparks.

Book 3 of DISORDERLY ELEMENTS series can be read as a stand-alone. A charged clash of technology and the paranormal in a heartwarming story of courage and romance where two men find their place in the world, as well as a safe haven for their heart.


by Amy Lane

Bonfires: Book Two

Saying “I love you” doesn’t guarantee peace or a happy ending.

High school principal “Larx” Larkin was pretty sure he’d hit the jackpot when Deputy Sheriff Aaron George moved in with him, merging their two families as seamlessly as the chaos around them could possibly allow.

But when Larx’s pregnant daughter comes home unexpectedly and two of Larx’s students are put in danger, their tentative beginning comes crashing down around their ears.

Larx thought he was okay with the dangers of Aaron’s job, and Aaron thought he was okay with Larx’s daughter—who is not okay—but when their worst fears are almost realized, it puts their hearts and their lives to the test. Larx and Aaron have never wanted anything as badly as they want a life together. Will they be able to make it work when the world is working hard to keep them apart?

Stand by Your Manny

by Amy Lane

The Mannies: Book Three

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?