Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Picture is Worth...

Sometimes you just have to go for the serious cute. Let's see what hot man + darling kitty can do. Inspired authors can have their 100-1000 words posted here, with links, covers, and news.

Do we drool or say "aw" on this one?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I just came away from the sort of trainwreck that I said once would make me point and snicker. I'm not doing either, I'm more sad than anything. This has to be the worst mess of this kind that I've seen. A reviewer gave what looked like an even handed review to a self-pubbed book, and the author disintegrated. The link is here, if you must, but you might want to skip it. Suffice to say that the author went outside without putting on her big girl pants.

And everyone knows about it now. I found out because a friend passed on a newsletter from a writing course that used it for a cautionary tale.

It's been said before that reviews are for readers. Writers get some benefit too, it's publicity if the review is good and hopefully a way to improve if it isn't so good. But the review isn't meant for ego stroking, it's a map to readers and sometimes it's marked 'here be dragons.'

I try not to forget that writers are people. Low-rated reviews are hard to write. In fact, if I don't review frequently some weeks, it's most likely because I'm struggling to review something that didn't work so well. There's no way to keep it from hurting sometimes without abandoning honesty. And I'm not going to do that. Not everything written is the most deathless prose since the Iliad.

I'm sure I've hurt some feelings already, or maybe no one ever read, but either way, no one has gone off on me, and for that, thank you authors. It could happen one day, and if it does, I just hope I can keep as calm as Big Al did.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

About Damn Time by Elizabeth Jewell

About Damn Time
Troy and Jason have been best friends forever -- or at least since first grade. Lately, though, Troy wants more. A drunken make-out session makes him think Jason might want more, too, but Troy is afraid to push things for fear of ruining their friendship.

When a vintage Mustang enters the picture, though, Troy makes a hasty bet with Jason that will change their relationship forever. Are they ready to take the leap from friends to lovers?

Friends to lovers story here, not completely satisfactory or believable.

The story itself is rather sweet -- friends since childhood, openly gay at least with each other, and supportive in a hands off kind of way, Troy and Jason live rather ordinary young men's lives, Jason as a mechanic who also welds sculpture he lacks confidence to market, and Troy as a bartender whose casual encounters never include Jason. Rebuilding a '68 Mustang becomes not just Jason's project but a way to bring the two together as more than friends. One drunken make-out session becomes the springboard to getting the car finished and some sex to celebrate.

Unfortunately, the story is told from the less interesting character's POV. Troy's drifting through his life, doing nothing much at all, although the description of one of his encounters did make me laugh out loud. Jason has more going on; he builds, rebuilds, creates, and agonizes, which we can see only through Troy's much less than focused gaze.

But I honestly don't see how these two could muddle through years of teenagerhood, six months of half-assed smooching, and then, when the big pay-off is in sight, they both neglect to fill their pockets properly. Or risk the paint job on the pride and joy, except for dramatic flair. A fifteen year or more friendship could certainly explode into more, but why it hasn't earlier, especially if they are aiding and abetting each other's casual escapades, is never really delved into. A vague bit of possessiveness on Troy's part is the only real hint of emotion, he seems to barely exist on the page.

There's a substantial amount of telling going on, so when a small explosion of showing happens, it's noticeable, and not enough to rescue the story. I really wanted to like this story, it's set local for me, but the few bright bits in a sea of ho hum aren't enough. 2 Marbles

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday

This pic has to be worth some words -- yum. Anyone who's moved to write them, please do -- I'll post your 100-1000 word story here with your news, links, and covers. Our last pic netted lovely ficlets from Mara Ismine, Juniper Gray,  and JM Cartwright. I can hardly wait to see what our gymnasts will inspire.

And if you just want to drool, I'm there with you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story from Mara Ismine

Ryan concentrated on getting the boiling water into the mug. The shower had already stopped running and Mac would be out soon wearing Ryan’s bath robe or hopefully less. Ryan could picture Mac in his bathroom and he liked the image.

A cup of tea and some toast might not be the height of culinary elegance, but Ryan was hoping that he would get points for trying. He had already set the kitchen table; well, set might be an overstatement, but he had put out plates, cutlery and all the possible spreads he could find. The Marmite could be a deal breaker, but it was in the cupboard so Ryan had shrugged and put it on the table with all the rest. He had even checked all the jars for edibility and chucked the few that had gone furry.

He put the kettle down and poked at the tea bag to get it brewing. He knew that tea was the right thing to make because he had offered tea or coffee last night in that awkward moment when they had got back to his flat. Mac had laughed and said he would have tea because he didn’t like coffee, but he could think of better things to be doing.

Mac’s ideas had been a lot more interesting than tea or coffee and Ryan had never got any further than putting the kettle on last night; at least, not in the kitchen. They had left a trail of clothes all the way to the bedroom and it hadn’t even mattered that Ryan’s bed wasn’t made – the pillows and duvet had ended up on the floor anyway.

Ryan was hoping that he could persuade Mac to make this more than just one night. He was sure that Mac had found the sex as fantastic as he had. Making a good impression out of bed was more difficult. He should have made time for some grocery shopping during the week, but he had put it off. At least he had been bored enough to clean the flat one evening so it looked reasonable.

He poked the tea bag again and decided that the tea was brewed enough. He fetched the milk from the fridge and topped the mug up with it. It looked reasonable, so he fished the tea bag out and squeezed it to add a hint more colour. He dumped the tea bag and rinsed his slightly burnt fingers before giving Mac’s tea a final stir.

“Perfect timing,” Ryan said as he turned to put the mug of fresh tea on the table and found Mac leaning in the doorway watching him, wearing the bath robe; the very loosely belted bath robe. “Did you want some toast? I’m out of just about everything else. I’ve been putting off the evil grocery shopping.” Ryan hesitated with the mug still in hand, should he kiss Mac? Or do something other than just hand him the tea?

“Toast is fine.” Mac grinned and pushed away from the doorframe. “Is that my tea?” He took the mug at Ryan’s nod and sipped it cautiously. “Perfect.” Mac set the mug on the table even as he snaked his other arm around Ryan’s waist. “It’s hot enough to wait while I say good morning properly.”

“Good.” Ryan said as Mac’s lips, all fresh and minty, closed over his. Ryan wasn’t sure if he was referring to the tea or the good morning kiss, but he was glad that he’d finger brushed his teeth at the kitchen sink while Mac was showering. He stopped worrying about unimportant details as Mac’s tongue duelled with his.
Mac pulled back and Ryan reluctantly let him end the kiss, but he didn’t let go.

“You got any plans for today?” Mac asked, leaning back to look at Ryan’s eyes.

“Nothing concrete.” Ryan would have cancelled anything if Mac was offering him more time together. The way Mac’s hands were stroking over his briefs suggested that Mac might have some more interesting ideas in mind.

“So going back to bed and working up more of an appetite for the toast is possible?” Mac slid his thumbs under the leg elastic of Ryan’s briefs and stroked the firm muscles of Ryan’s arse.

“I’m all for working up appetites and satisfying them,” Ryan said with a grin. “Maybe we could share a shower before the toast.”

“I’ve just had a shower,” Mac pointed out.

“I’m sure we can get you needing another.”

The tea was stone cold by the time they got back to the kitchen for the toast.

Thanks, Mara! You do lovely short work – that must come as a break from longer pieces. Mara’s second novel, Yarotangi, just came out, and it’s set in the Dark Masters universe which is also the setting for Smoke.
Yarotanji enjoys being an elite agent with the Peace Keeper Task Force and spending his time moving from planet to planet investigating various potentially dangerous situations. He spends a lot of his time lusting after Asrayan, his partner for most assignments, on and off the job. Yarotanji likes his job and his partner, people trying to damage his person and unrequited lust aside.

But he has a very bad feeling about the new assignment he and Asrayan have been given. It should be a walk in the park compared to their normal assignments. And it is - until things get complicated and those difficulties threaten his hard won friendship with Asrayan.

Yarotanji and Asrayan first appeared as secondary characters in the novel Smoke.

Find these and Mara’s other stories here.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Facebook -- I finally did it

Okay, I am full of opinions, or I wouldn't be running this blog, and I've gone out and spread those opinions by joining Facebook. Am I the last one on the planet who hasn't? Maybe.

People have been really sweet about friend requests. I expected they'd go "Cryselle who? Run along, little girl," but no one has yet. So now anything I say here will have a wider audience. I always want to have something intelligent to say about what I read, so if I don't post every day, it's because the quality of my thoughts isn't what I want to show the world.

Fortunately, my lovely authors who respond to the Thousand Word Thursday prompts will help me out.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story from Juniper Gray

Coffee and Keys

“You sure you don't want one?”

“You know I don't drink that tasteless crap.”

Glen shot him a flat look and returned to the precise preparations of his instant coffee; black-one-sugar. Steve stood with his back against the sink, watching Glen as he added the right amount of water to the right amount of granules, stirred in the right amount of sugar. The thick aroma filled the air of Steve's small kitchen. The scent of stolen mornings with Glen. Not that Steve would ever let on he thought of the instant-coffee smell in such a way.

Glen set the steaming mug aside and sealed the little foil packet his brand of coffee came in, then tucked it safely back into its cardboard box. His hands were so gentle, their movements so exact. Glen was a stickler for order – liked to keep things just the way he wanted them. That was why his mug and coffee and sugar and even spoon had made their way into Steve's apartment. For mornings like this. He would have brought the water too if he could've.

And yet, there were certain facets to Glen's life where order didn't seem to matter. He wasn't overly particular about cleanliness - at least not to the level of obsession he had with the particulars of his coffee – he wasn't massively vain, he never lectured Steve or tried to introduce order into his pretty-much spontaneous existence. Even now, performing his morning ritual, Glen was only half-dressed and only the shorts even belonged to him; the shirt was the first thing he'd found on the floor after rolling out of bed, and combined with his stubble and bed-hair he looked like something handed in at the YMCA.

Steve looked Glen over from foot to head. It was odd, really. He'd never come across anyone he liked absolutely everything about before. The way Glen stood so flat-footed sometimes. The ass cheek peeking out from one side of his underwear. The slender line of his waist and the broad of his muscular shoulders. The consternation on his face when he was caught up in his own perfectionism. His complete lack of self-awareness. Those hands that pressed at Steve, so tender and so firm, sent him out of his mind and brought him rocketing back down to earth again. Steve wanted those hands on him now, but kept it to himself.

Glen stowed the box inside the nearest cupboard, next to Steve's connoisseur ground coffee. Steve allowed himself a small smile. He liked it when Glen stayed over. That crappy instant coffee was starting to smell like home.  

Glen picked up the mug and gave the contents a cursory blow followed by a cautious sip. Satisfied, he leant back against the counter and looked over at Steve. He could have stayed in bed, let Steve make it for him. But Steve couldn't be trusted with the task of coffee-making, apparently. Not yet.

“You're not forced to rush out of here, you know. I can leave you a key.”

Glen stretched, toes clicking, drawing Steve's shirt tight across his chest. “Nah, it's fine. Doesn't take me long to get ready, I won't hold you up.” He noticed Steve looking. “What?” he said, peering levelly over his coffee.

“Nothing, I'm just thinking.”

“Dangerous ground,” Another sip, and a raised eyebrow.

If Glen kept this up he'd be spread all over the counter, coffee or no. Steve's fingertips ached for Glen's contours already. His cock had similar ideas, and he had to distract himself. “I think your mug would be more at home amongst your other junk, don't you?”

Glen just stared at him for a moment, then looked a little sad. He glanced down at his mug. “Point taken,” he muttered.

“Point taken, but in the wrong direction.” Steve told him, moving past him and heading for the hall. It was beyond time he was getting ready for work.

“What does that mean?” he heard Glen say. He smiled, refusing to make it any clearer, and started up the stairs. Glen's footsteps followed him. “Hey,”

Steve turned, foot on the second step, and put on his best enigmatic expression. “I'm just saying, if you absolutely had to pollute my place with more of your crap, I'd be okay with that.”

They stared at each other for a moment. He started up the stairs again. “Are you asking me to move in with you?” Glen said, incredulous.

“So what if I am?”

“You can't ask me to move in, you haven't even told me if you're in love with me yet!”

Steve stopped and peered at Glen over the stair bannister. He leaned forward slightly. “I love you.” he said. The colour seemed to drain from Glen's cheeks. This was fun, Steve decided. “Don't even think about bringing that sixties vase, though.” He narrowed his eyes. “Or that candelabra.”

“I inherited those!” Glen complained, brows furrowing. Then he waved a hand around in front of his face as though fending off wasps. “That's not even the point! You...! I...”

Steve was at the top of the stairs now. “I'm going to get dressed. Let me know when your linguistic faculties return so we can discuss this like adults.” he shouted down.

And then Glen was pelting up the stairs after him, grin wider than seemed possible, chasing Steve into the bedroom and grabbing him, kissing him as they both tipped back onto the bed. “I hate you, goddamn asshole,” Glen grinned into his ear, those dexterous hands assuring Steve that, in fact, quite the opposite was true.


Thanks to Juniper Gray, who provided this little glimpse of morning. Her first novel, Imposition, will be out this summer from Torquere, which is especially good news for us science fiction readers! Check for news at her website and livejournal.

Wrestling With Desire by DH Starr

Wrestling with DesireDerek Thompson is a senior, a wrestler, and has a secret. He's gay.

Scott Thayer is a new student who has just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts from Iowa. On the first day of school Derek and Scott meet and their lives change in an instant.

As Derek and Scott discover the things they have in common, they enter into one of the closest and most loving relationships either of them has ever experienced. When unexpected circumstances threaten their relationship, they both have to make a decision. DO they protect their secret and separate? Or fight for what they want...each other?


High school -- if offered the choice between eating a bug or reliving any one day of high school, I'd ask how big the bug is. This YA coming of age story illustrates the bittersweet reasons for the dilemma.

Growing up is hard enough, trying to complete senior year as an outsider coming into a stable group, as newcomer Scott has to do, makes it even harder. Fortunately, Derek, quiet, unassuming but still fairly popular, and also gay, is willing to befriend him. They find a lot of shared interests in academics, sports, music, and eventually, each other. We see the journey from Derek's POV, and if he sounds a lot more mature than his years sometimes, he can be both wise and clueless, in true late teen fashion.

Both boys wrestle, a high prestige sport in their school, which provides the backdrop to some of their most important instances of growing up -- they worry about making the team and being accepted, they win, fail, and teach each other new skills. If the technical descriptions of wrestling moves glazed my eyes over, I still think I got the important messages. Wrestling, with it's close physical contact, seems like a hard sport for a gay youth who'd like to stay in the closet, but also a really good life lesson in maintaining focus. I cheered for Scott, Derek, and their team when they won and grieved when they lost, caught up in their success if not the sport.

There's conflict with family, too, and NOT -- thankyouDHStarrletmemakeyoubrowniesfordoingitthisway -- over being gay, but over academics and power within the family, and this more than anything drives the last half of the book. It also renders this YA read more universally appealing, these are conflicts any teen will recognize. One scene did seem to push the YA standard re sex on the page, but we didn't have to hear every groan or feel every stroke to know that these are healthy, horny teenagers who are really into each other.

The line editing and presentation were unfortunately intrusive enough to affect the reading experience. I found myself responding sarcastically to sentences where meaning changed from the intended because of punctuation, or lack of it. Font size changed periodically, sometimes in the middle of a word, so swats to the publisher for not presenting the work more carefully.

The product placement was also intrusive; while the type of car Derek drove says something about him and his family and their values, mentioning "Cymbalta" instead of "antidepressant" or "Best Buy" instead of "electronics store" did not, and there were a lot of these kinds of things. I read books to get away from commercials.

The story is uplifting and positive, but could certainly have benefited from a stronger editorial hand -- some spots ramble or repeat, not truly moving the story forward, and the already mentioned issues took their toll. Still, I'm glad to have read it, and look forward to the other books from this author in my TBR pile. 3.5 marbles

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Story from JM Cartright

Gunther in a Hurry

"Damn it." Gunther barely avoided spilling the boiling water on his fingers as he stirred rapidly. Why he was even drinking instant coffee was beyond him. Normally, he wouldn't touch the stuff. But no, today, Hans had him up at the crack of dawn to get back to the warehouse.

"That lazy bastard. I bet he's still asleep." His boss was a pain, no two ways about it. Gun took a hasty sip and spit it right back out. "Shit!" Too frigging hot.

"Good thing you're standing at the sink, or you'd really be in trouble." The sleepy drawl came from behind him.

Ooops. He grimaced, setting his cup down on the counter. "I'm sorry." Grabbing the sponge, he took a swipe at the coffee splash. "Did I wake you with my grumbling?"

Stefan's warm body eased up behind, crowding close. Mmm, that morning wood was interesting.

"Uh-huh. But you can pay me back tonight, when you get home." Strong arms wrapped around his middle, one hand sliding steadily down. "Remember, this belongs to me." Calloused fingers easily slipped inside his briefs. His cock immediately took an interest.

Gun steadied himself on the countertop, breathing in through his nose. "Yes. Yes, sir."

Moist breath feathered over his ear. "And tonight, we'll work out some of this crankiness, put you through your paces. How does that sound?" The hand caressing his cock moved to cup his balls.

Gun hissed in a breath. "Oh, God. Um, can we... can we use the bench?"

Stefan's soft laughter made heat rush through his belly. "Oh, yes. I think we'll be needing that. You've been a little out of sorts lately with your crazy schedule."

Sighing, Gun relaxed, easing his weight back against Stefan. God, he his man knew what he craved. "Thank you, sir."


Thank you, JM Cartwright, for telling a story for that pic! JM has two books in the ”Change” series out with Torquere already, and a third due in August. A separate project is coming out in May; we’ll have to watch for it. Buy them here.
A Change of TuneChange of Scenery 

Keep up with the latest news at JM's website or at LiveJournal.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday

A picture is worth a thousand words again this week! Our last pic netted a lovely little poem from Eden Winters to explain the situation, and who might have a tiny tale to tell about what's going on here? A drabble? A ficlet? I'll post your 100-1000 words with your latest news, links, and book covers.  Email to CryselleC AT

And if you just want to drool, I'm there with you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Thousand Word Thursday Poem from Eden Winters

First We Were Friends

Come to me softly,
Not to buy my love with gifts
With daring deeds or lofty words,
But quietly on a wish

Come to me softly,
Make no promise now but this,
To always be yourself,
And greet me with a kiss

Come to me softly,
Not to lift me like the wind
Not to carry me away,
But stand by me as a friend

Come to me softly,
Through triumph and through fears,
Laugh with me in happy times,
Comfort me through tears

Come to me softly,
And one day I'll turn to find,
The one I've always searched for,
Has been there the whole time.

Eden, thank you for sharing your thoughts on these football players. Sigh.

Eden's latest, Settling the Score, is now out from Torquere, in ebook and Print. I'm ready to read!

Closeted mechanic Joey Nichols' life is good. His boyfriend landed a major Hollywood role, and is well on the way to superstardom. Joey's bags are packed and soon he'll leave small town Georgia and join the man of his dreams in California, to live out, proud, and together. Days before his planned departure, his lover outs Joey during a televised interview and announces that they've broken up, leaving Joey to face the bigotry of the locals alone.

Bestselling author Troy Steele knows all about having life turned upside down by the media. Now a recluse, Troy shuns all the trappings that come with writing books made into blockbuster movies. He spends his time exacting revenge on a former flame via his novels and hiding out in rural South Carolina, watching celebrity gossip shows. Joey's fifteen minutes of fame bear an eerie similarity to the plot of Troy's latest work in progress. What if Joey could be transformed into everything the fickle ex wanted, as Troy is writing for his fictional hero, and secretly wishes for himself? Once polished, could a diamond-in-the-rough good ole boy confront his ex, then walk away, pride intact? These are Troy's questions, and he's counting on Joey for answers.

And The Angel of Thirteenth Street is out in print now!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday

A picture is worth a thousand words again this week! Our last pic netted a lovely little story from Nancy M. Griffis to explain the situation, and who might have a tiny tale to tell about what's going on here? A drabble? A ficlet? I'll post your 100-1000 words with your latest news, links, and book covers.

And if you just want to drool, I'm there with you.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coming Out in Cooper's Crossing by Jayne DeMarco

At sixteen, Sam has rarely been off the Thomas property. He's dying to meet lads himself -- gay, young, hungry. He grew up on the whispered tales of Will Fairchild, who followed gorgeous Ben Garvey east out of Coopers Crossing into bushranger country, a century before. Now, he watches for a truck called 'Stand and Deliver' ... but nothing could prepare him for the reality of Steve Ryan. And nothing short of a cross between Crocodile Dundee and Brokeback Mountain will prepare you for Coming Out in Cooper's Crossing.


Sweet, short, humorous, a little angsty and teenaged, this was a real treat to find. The first file I opened from the package at the GLBT Rummage Sale, this has me feeling good and ready to dive into the others.

Sam, gay, level-headed, and not inclined to turn things dramatic when they don't need to be, is our narrator. Growing up in micro-town anywhere has its challenges, but Sam meets his with eyes open, and if the only role model he has has been dead a century, he doesn't do too badly on his own. The Australian slang is thick here, the author kindly provides a glossary for those of us who speak a duller language, and it's all great characterization.

The ending is a little confused -- things happen to Sam rather than him causing things to happen, or he's thinking it out still, but as the title tells us, the secrets are over, and Steve turns out to be a gem. Four marbles

Buy it here, exclusively at the GLBT Bookshelf, and for a limited time: the Rummage Sale won't last forever, and all proceeds go to maintain the Bookshelf. Buy one story, half a dozen, or the whole collection -- there's some goodies in there.

Remember AmazonFail a couple years ago, when all GLBT related titles mysteriously lost their rankings and visibility? The Bookshelf is your treasure and go-to resource for finding GLBT books. It's unbeholden to Amazon, though if you use Bookshelf portals to buy anything at all there, you can make Amazon support what it tried to squash.Get to the Bookshelf anytime with that handy button to the right.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Azul:Bailame by Lee Benoit

Azul: Bailame
A principal dancer with a Havana company, Lola misses his big chance to defect from post-Soviet Cuba because of an injury. Left behind by his faithless lover, Lola finds his health and attitude improving as he develops a friendship with his mysterious doctor, Adán.

Adán has a secret, though, one he's guarded from everyone since he returned from medical training in Mexico. If Adán's secret identity doesn't destroy their relationship, the vicissitudes of Lola's job might. When Lola gets the chance to dance again, will he choose Adán, or his career?

Once again, Lee Benoit has created a complete immersion in the locale with just a few details here and there. We are plunged into Communist Cuba, complete with conflicting loyalties, warm sun, an underground economy, and matters of the heart that have to be circumspect, because there are spies everywhere. Benoit impressed me with atmosphere in Smoke: Askari, and this is even better.

This story is all about the continuum of the human condition -- duality has no place here. If Lola is often a woman's name, it doesn't have to be, and if a man thinks he is only attracted to other men, or only to women, again, he doesn't have to be; he can be attracted to just the person, without asking for labels. The name alone serves as a signal -- did any reader here not hear "L-O-L-A, Lola" singing in your head?

Politics underlies this story -- life in a Communist regime, where dancers, the darlings of the State, can get medications that doctors cannot, is both harsh where one cannot safely finish a sentence or get enough condoms, and sweet enough to attract people who have choices.

Don't read this book for the bodies slapping together -- the sex is minimalist but joyous -- read it for the questions it will raise and partially answer, and the happiness it leaves in its wake. 4 marbles

Buy here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday Story from Nancy M. Griffis

aint heavy7
It had been too long since Steve had felt real gravity. Ship gravity was always heavier than earth normal, so it felt like he could walk on air. And the sunlight felt so damn good that he randomly stopped and lifted his face to the sky. It was summer on the northern continent and this shore leave was at a resort where he could shelve the responsibilities of being a Lieutenant on a ship of the line.

And the dress code is comfortable, he thought with a grin, glancing down at his pink and black swim trunks.

The pool area was empty when he arrived. Shrugging off the disappointment, he stretched onto a chaise and soaked in the UV rays that he hadn’t felt in a couple of years.


The shout startled Steve into bolting upright, battle-honed reflexes jump-starting his heart. He saw a blur through the air and the resulting splash when whoever it was canon-balled into the water. The waves were big enough to splatter over the edge of the pool and he grinned, relaxing back into the chaise.

A head popped up a few seconds later and the jumper spluttered and wiped at his face, exclaiming, “Shit! Cold!” and swam rapidly for the edge to pull himself out.

Steve angled the chaise up a couple of notches so he could watch unobstructed. The kid, and he was young, was probably there on his parents’ dime. Good looking, though, with a strong body and a ready smile that flashed in Steve’s direction.

“I didn’t get you, did I?” the kid asked.

Steve shook his head and smiled. “Still dry.”

Hopping lightly to his feet, the kid walked over and held out a hand. “I’m Jay.”

He took the hand and looked up into hazel eyes that seemed older than he’d first assumed. He also discovered a surprisingly strong grip. “Steve. The temperature controls are over there.”

Jay took the next chaise over and asked, “Here on leave?”

Steve grinned a little and said, “That obviously military, huh?”

Green-brown eyes sparkled a bit as Jay answered, “It’s the posture and always looking for escape routes that gives it away.”

“I could be a drug dealer raised by strict Catholic nuns,” Steve teased.

Jay laughed, a warm, light sound. “I suppose, if this were, you know, a multi-verse or something, sure. What ship are you on?”

Conversation turned out to be fun and distracting, exactly what Steve had been looking for when he’d come to the pool. He had to adjust his initial impression of the younger man as the topics ranged from physics to shipboard life to galaxy-wide politics. Finally, he said, “Okay, so are you some kind of child prodigy or something? You seem way too young to know all this stuff.”

Another of those happy laughs echoed through the air and Jay said, “Not really. I just look young for my age and moved around a lot growing up. I’m twenty-five, don’t worry. No jailbait here.”

Steve snorted and opened his mouth to say something when whoops and hollers echoed through the air as a group of young man ran and jumped into the pool en masse. There was a lot of loud cursing and Jay laughed before shouting at them, “Turn on the temp control, idiots!”

Multiple rude gestures flipped their way and someone shouted back, “C’mon, Jay! You can’t get out of it this time! You got someone right there!”

Jay rolled his eyes and asked Steve, “How are you at chicken?”

Steve arched an eyebrow at him. “As in feathered fowls?”

“As in, I get on your shoulders and we dunk some of my friends. I’ll warn you though, I have horrendous balance.”

Steve responded to those warm, changeable eyes in a way he hadn’t to anyone for a long time. The friendly innocence therein was exactly what he fought to protect, keeping the home-world and her people safe. As much of the world as Jay claimed to have seen, he was still young and whole at heart and that appealed so much to Steve that he found himself nodding without any real intent to do so.

“Great!” Jay exclaimed hopping to his feet.

Steve stood and watched as the others climbed out of the pool to grab towels and one of the young men ran to the temperature controls. The crystal clear water regained its empty, calm state if only for a few minutes.

He bent down and said, “All aboard who’s going aboard.”

Jay snickered. “That was terrible,” then paused before continuing, “Um, shouldn’t we do this in the water?”

Straightening at the nervous tone, Steve met Jay’s eyes with his own and held out his hand as he said, “I won’t drop you. Trust me.”

Jay searched his gaze for something and then a slow, warm smile spread over his face and he took Steve’s hand. Their fingers laced together and he whispered, “I do. I trust you.”

Steve knew it would be easy to pull the slightly shorter man in and kiss him, but decided to prolong the anticipation. He smiled brightly instead and said, “Good! Let’s kick some butt.”

Jay laughed.

Steve assumed the position and Jay straddled his shoulders. He took firm hold around Jay’s legs while the other gripped his head a shade too tight when Steve straightened. There were a few hairy moments as they found their balance, but then they were upright and in sync. It felt good, the trusting way Jay literally rested on his shoulders, like he could do anything.

“Over here!”

Steve looked over to find one of the others holding a holo-corder at them. He faced front so the young man could take their pic, smiling as he thought, This will be a shore leave to remember.
Thank you, Nancy, for giving us a lovely story, and in an unexpected genre, too! 

Nancy’s latest release is Eternal Investigations, available now from Torquere.
Eternal Investigations_cover
Helen has the ability to speak to spirits, and she heads to Atlanta on an emergency haunting job. Helen's dead-ghost twin sister, Brenda, tags along.

When a small-time demon takes over Helen's mind, Jacqueline gets a ghostly visit from Brenda asking for her help. Together they try to overcome the evil spirits and find themselves falling in love. When a new assignment sends them to Nevada, Helen and Jacqueline team up, in more ways than one.

They help investigate a haunted ranch in Wild Creek, Nevada, a town filled with mysterious happenings, including the infamous Ranch. The ranch is steeped in evil, the grounds for many, many gory deaths over the last hundred years. Helen and Jacqueline are caught in the house's alternate reality, alone, frightened, and trying desperately to harness their powers against evil.

Find it here!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thousand Word Thursday

A picture is worth a thousand words again this week! Our last pic netted a lovely little story from PD Singer to explain the situation, and who might have a tiny tale to tell about what's going on here? A drabble? A ficlet? I'll post it with your latest news, links, and book covers.

And if you just want to drool, I'm there with you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Coffee Kisses by Margaret Leigh

Constable Miranda is checking on a robbery victim at the hospital when she meets a nurse with the prettiest blue eyes. Miranda's on the job, though, so she tells herself not to get involved, but that's before a freak accident lands Miranda herself in the hospital with a concussion. Her hard head saves her from serious injury, but gives her the chance to meet Lorraine again. Will coincidence bloom into something much stronger than friendship?
This short has a complete plot -- a police case opens and closes, not merely existing to provide a way for the protagonists to meet. As an introduction, an accident that would be humorous if it weren't so painful lets Miranda connect with Lorraine and bond with her colleagues, too. The romance had a sweet slow blooming and left me hoping for the couple's future. A comfort read rather than a seat of your chair read -- the police work serves as a reminder that justice can be served. 3 1/2 marbles