Flash Fic Monday – Ritual

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Ritual

“Te-o, Te-o, Te-o!” they chanted, lifting him higher as they ran toward the dune, carrying him as if he weighed nothing.  He felt a rush of power surge through him, feeling as godlike as they believed him to be.  Teodoro didn’t know exactly when or how he’d become a god in their eyes but for the first time he believed it too.

How he’d landed on the shores of this island was a complete mystery to him, his memories hazy at best.  But in the months since, he’d grown to love this world and become a part of it.  Now he would lead it.

“I am Te-o!” he shouted back and electricity hummed and crackled across his skin.  The hot sun baked down on his bare skin as the eight equally-nude men carried him toward the sea.  The sun, the power, the feel of their hands on his skin made his cock harden and he shivered with anticipation at the thought of what was to come.

The ancient rituals would take place all day and well into the night and by the time they were done he would no longer be a man but a living god.


 

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other author’s flash fics for this week!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

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Flash Fic Monday (on Sunday) – Regret

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Note: I didn’t have anything ready for last week because I was so sick, but I had an idea pop into my head today so here’s the flash fic for April 20th.


Regret

Swallowing his tears, Royce settled back on the rock and listened to the sound of the rushing river beneath him.  He wondered if he’d have the strength to throw himself off the rock into the icy river before the infection took over.  He’d been contemplating the best way to die for hours now and he still couldn’t decide.

His thoughts wandered to the sharp hiking knife in his pack.  Maybe that would be the best method, but he wasn’t sure if he could stomach it.

Royce knew it was dangerous, but he’d come out to the wilderness to think.  He’d been a mess and he needed the solitude of nature to get his head on straight again.  But hiking alone was a stupid, reckless thing to do and the sound of snapping bone would never leave him.  He’d nearly lost his lunch at the sight of the bone sticking out from his shin and he hadn’t been able to do much to care for it with the rudimentary first aid kit in his bag. Now his leg was swollen and hot and hope had run out.

Despite his frantic searches, his satellite phone had disappeared and he’d been too injured to do much more than drag himself to the rock near the river and wait to die.  He’d tried his cell phone—still miraculously intact—but the signal was spotty at best and the text he’d sent and the calls he’d made hadn’t gone through.

Scrubbing a hand across his beard, he silently apologized to his lover for the thousandth time since he slipped and fell.  He wished—if he couldn’t be rescued and tell Marco to his face—that there was a way his phone would be found so Marco could see the messages telling him that he was sorry about their fight.  Sorry he’d gotten himself killed with his recklessness.

Hot tears of regret slid across Royce’s skin and he took a deep shuddering breath, trying to find the peace he’d found for a few minutes earlier.

Royce must have drifted off because he woke from a drowsy sleep feeling muddled and confused by the shouts of “Over there!  We’ve found him!” and Marco’s loud bellow of “Royce, goddamn it, you better still be alive you bastard!” but he couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes.

What if it was a fever-dream, a hallucination as the infection worked its way through his system?  At least he’d die with his lover’s voice in his mind.  There were worse ways to go.

“Sorry, Marco,” he whispered and he wasn’t sure if it was the wind or the man who answered.


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other author’s flash fics for this week!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Lost and Found and the “Husbands” Release

All four of the main characters in the Equals series are rejected by their families in one way or another because of their sexuality.  Russ is lucky, he has a strong, supportive father but his aunt rejects him which in turn affects his relationship with his younger sister.  Stephen’s family—already unsupportive of his decision to go to college—cuts him out of their lives completely when he comes out after graduation.  Although he’s older, and used to supporting himself, it’s still a painful experience.

Evan is rejected by his aunt and uncle when they fire him from the funeral home where he works then his parents kick him out of the house.  The fourth main character—Evan’s love interest—well, you’ll just have to read Connection to find out what happens to him, but suffice it to say it may be one of the worst rejections of all.

At twenty, Evan is the youngest.  The most vulnerable too, because other than a few belongings and his car, he suddenly finds himself without a job or a home and no idea what to do.

A chance meeting with Russ in Partners leads Evan to Atlanta, and gives him a place to stay and time to get on his feet and begin a new life.  But what if he hadn’t had Russ?  What if Russ’ father hadn’t been supportive when he came out? What if Stephen hadn’t waited to come out until he was able to support himself?

These questions played through my mind as I wrote the stories and I was surprised when I realized how much Evan and Stephen had in common.  With nearly a quarter century age difference between them, there were surprising parallels between their experiences and feelings.

And as I grew to love the characters, they became more and more real to me.

I love all four of them deeply but there was something about the vulnerable positions Evan and Stephen ended up in that made me spend a lot of time thinking about their lives and the emotional toll the rejection took on them.  I found myself wavering between frustration and tears as I thought about these characters and the different turns their lives could have taken.

An estimated 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ identified.  That is an alarming number of kids who are turned out of their homes with no resources.  Any decent person is upset by the concept of course, but while it’s horrific that any person, much less a young person, is homeless, sometimes it’s hard to put a face to the statistics.

As I considered Stephen and Evan’s characters and where they might have ended up, it became far more than just numbers or an abstract idea of what an awful situation these real life kids are in.  Much like it bothers Stephen that he hasn’t done more, I felt a sense of responsibility to give back a bit. I can be frustrated and upset with what’s happening, but it doesn’t accomplish much if I don’t do something to help the situation.

I considered a number of ideas, but ultimately decided that 10% of the proceeds from Husbands will go toward Atlanta’s Lost-n-Found Youth center.

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If you aren’t familiar with them, this is the motto directly from their website:

Lost-n-Found Youth is an Atlanta-based nonprofit corporation whose mission is to take homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths to age 26 off the street and transition them into more permanent housing.

We operate a 24/7 hotline at 678-856-7825, a Youth Center, a 6-bed 90 day housing facility, and 3-6 month host home program.

Lost-n-Found Youth is Atlanta’s only nonprofit agency actively working to take homeless LGBTQ youth off the street.

In the past, I have supported kids in my state (The Ruth Ellis Center in the Detroit area) but Atlanta became a huge part of this series and it seemed fitting that an organization local to the books should benefit.

As I tally the sales from the books, I’ll set 10% of the sales from Husbands aside and quarterly, make a donation to Lost-n-Found Youth center.

Because real life kids deserve the kind of lives I imagined for Russ, Stephen, Evan, and his love.  They deserve a warm bed to sleep in at night, food to eat, and people to care about and support them.

They deserve a happily ever after too.


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Summary:
Russ is ready to make a lifelong commitment to his partner. That means marriage to him, but Stephen grew up believing that was out of the question. With marriage equality still not recognized in Georgia, Stephen is only concerned about the legal protection available to them.

Someone from Stephen’s past reappears and drives a wedge between them as Russ and Stephen struggle to agree on their future. Russ tries to understand Stephen’s complex feelings about marriage, but the differences in their background stresses the relationship further. Can the relationship they’ve built overcome the issues they face?

Excerpt:
Russ had been fourteen when Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. State after state joined the ranks, and in the last few years it seemed to be gaining momentum. It was only a matter of time before marriage equality swept the nation. He’d grown up with the idea that someday he’d have the right to marry the man he loved. If he wanted it—and right now, he wanted it more than anything else in the world—there would be nothing to stop him.

Except, his partner—the one he’d been so sure wanted the same thing—apparently didn’t.

“How’d you know I was up here?” he asked hoarsely.

Stephen’s gaze lifted, his smile sad. “Because I know you.”

Russ’ tongue felt thick all of a sudden, unwieldy in his mouth. “I thought I knew you.”

The look of hurt in Stephen’s gaze was shattering, but no more so than the earlier rejection. “Can we talk?”

“I’m not sure what there is to say.” Russ walked out of the pool, limbs heavy after the grueling swim and time spent floating in the water. It was almost like the feeling of being back on land after spending a day on a boat. Except that made him think of sailing with Stephen, which was too painful to consider right now. “I asked you to marry me, and it’s not something you want. There really isn’t a compromise.”

Stephen and Russ

All Romance

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LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway

When AJ Rose, Kate Aaron, and Meredith at Diverse Reader sent me a message asking me to take part in the LGBTQ Push Back Charity Giveaway, I said yes.  Immediately.  I am one of 224 authors, bloggers, and publishers who are donating a book and it’s a cause I am so pleased to be a part of.

I chose to support the Ruth Ellis Center, a social services agency in the Detroit area that aims to “provide short and long-term residential safe space and support services for runaway, homeless, and at-risk lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning youth.”

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Please visit Diverse Reader for the details of the giveaway!  There are 10 days left to contribute and every little bit is greatly appreciated.

 

Flash Fiction Monday – “The End of His Rope”

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Notes: Pictures of cowboys make me think of Bobby and Van, so I decided I’d revisit their world and do a flashback from Van’s POV of when Bobby made his ultimatum.  If you haven’t read the previous flash fics with them, you can find A Roll in the … Straw? and Hitched by clicking on the titles.

The End of His Rope

Being bi was supposed to end with his college graduation.  College was a time for experimenting, for doing whatever the hell he wanted without consequences.  Except, he was pretty sure he’d been fooling himself to think that was the case.  Now that he was an adult—years after he’d been handed a diploma—he still wasn’t over Bobby Blake.  Van looked at the rippling, tanned torso of his former college roommate as he lassoed a steer and ached.  His cock was hard in his jeans so that ache was understandable, but the one in his heart was something else entirely.

Anyone with even the slightest attraction to men—and damn it, he couldn’t keep denying that anymore—would be turned on by the sight of the sweaty and undeniably sexy rancher.  If they heard Bobby’s life story, they’d admire the way he’d taken over his ageing aunt and uncle’s place right after college and brought the failing property back to life.  Anyone who knew Bobby would fall head over heels for him.  And that was the goddamn problem.  Van had fallen head over heels and it was time to face the cold hard truth.

“Hey there.”

Van pushed back from the split rail fence he’d been leaning on and looked at Bobby.  His friend, his lover, the man he wanted so much more from.  “I’ve been thinkin’ about what you said.”

Bobby’s jaw tightened.  “And?”

“I can’t do it.  I’m sorry.”

Nodding, Bobby settled his Stetson more firmly on his head.  “Well, I guess this is it, then.”

“I guess so.”

The words were bland enough that his mother could have heard them. But under the surface lay years of passion and frustration.  Of Bobby wanting more and Van struggling to give him even a little of what he asked for.  “I’m sorry, Bobby. I really am.”

“You take care of yourself then,” Bobby said gruffly and Van’s heart sank.  He took one last, long look at Bobby before turning on his heel and walking back to his car.

“Yeah, you too,” he threw over his shoulder.  He didn’t know what he’d been expecting when he arrived, but not this.  He’d taken a week off work to be with Bobby but it had gone downhill almost from the beginning when Bobby issued his ultimatum: come out of the closet, or we’re over.  Sure, they’d fucked loads of times and slept together in Bobby’s big wooden bed since, but the looming question had slept between them.

All week, Van had been wrestling with the goddamn ultimatum like it was one of Bobby’s steers.  Unfortunately, he was no rancher.  He wasn’t brave like Bobby, living out and proud.  And he was a goddamn idiot for expecting Bobby to fight for him, to beg him to stay after he said no.  That wasn’t Bobby at all.  Hell, that was one of the things Van loved about him.

Van’s car kicked up clouds of dust on the long drive out to the main road, swirling behind him and obscuring the final glimpse of Bobby and his ranch that Van kept searching for in the rearview mirror.


p.s.  Thank you Helena for coming up with the absolute perfect title for this!

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other author’s flash fics for this week!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Updates – Husbands and an Apology

As you know, things have been a little crazy around here.  I managed to get three days off work that fell at the same time as my normal Friday off, so I have a nice chunk of six days off in a row.  Unfortunately, I’ve been running myself so ragged it was too little too late, at least when it comes to my health.  On Friday, I spent sixteen hours writing like a madwoman and now have a nasty case of bronchitis.  *sighs* Someday I’ll get better at this balancing thing, I swear.

On the plus side, the final piece of Russ and Stephen’s story, Husbands, is off to the betas and is available for pre-order on Amazon. The official release will be April 24th!

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Amazon – US

Amazon – UK

Amazon – CA

Yesterday I stopped by Prism Book Alliance for my monthly guest blog post on Outside the Margins.  I discussed what marriage and commitment mean to people and how that shaped the latest book in the Equals series.

I am sorry that I did not manage to do a Flash Fic this week (frankly, I forgot) but I will be back next week.  And please check out Thorny Sterling’s Blog for a truly lovely take on this week’s picture!

Now I’m off to get a little bit of writing done while I’m feeling up to it.  And resting.  Mostly resting, because I want to kick this bronchitis to the curb as fast as possible!