Now, about the book. I had already read the first book before meeting Rhys, and thought it was fantastic. After the meeting, I find now I can definitely hear the writer in the prose. If anything this has me appreciating book two even more. Plus, there is the way this narrator voices Jae-Min's voice. It's positively sinful.
Rhys has created some great characters, too. Like Mike, the main character Cole's brother. He is awesome. So very awesome. I'll tell you what. When he stood up for Cole, I wanted to stand up and cheer. I maybe did a little fist pump in the air. It was epic. I was a fan.
Then Rhys did this thing that had me texting Mary with "Why????? Why, Mary, why do that?" Of course, I can't tell you what it was, because as River would say:
I will say, at about two thirds of the way to the end, I'm really enjoying the read.
ETA: I know why now, because I finished the book, but holy hell! It was terrible and wonderful all at the exact same time. Not so very many authors can manage that, so go Ms. Ford. Can't wait for book three.
- Current Mood: bouncy
Cute Shoes. 'Nuff said
On to Amy lane and the boys from Johnnies.
I've read the three current offerings. I had put it off a long time because of the talk around how heart-rending Chase, from Chase in Shadow was rumoured to be. And yes, he was sad, confused and, bless him, pretty fucked in the head. Not a huge shock for an Amy Lane Character, truth be told. I was surprised that I managed to like him, though. I sort of thought I might have a hard time empathising, what with the girlfriend and the boyfriend at the same time, but Amy is kind of magical in that, as it turns out, liking him was not at issue. Also, I've been suicidal, so I get that. And I thought the book would be too much. It wasn't. In fact, it turned out to be one of those instances where I thought...this is what all the angst and fuss has been about? Really, my heart kind of broke for Tommy more than for Chase. In the end, turns out, I was procrastinating for nothing. It was a fantastic book and I loved it, and it really didn't angst me out all that much.
Enter Dex. Chapter one broke my ever-lovin' heart. But having seen so much of Dex in Chase's book, I already knew he was sort of on his feet, if not quite perfect. So the heartbreak was not as deep as it might have been if I didn't already know the man who'd grown from the boy in the first chapter of his own book. And Kane. I mean seriously. I want a Kane. There is nothing not to like about Kane. He's thoughtful, sweet, bossy, temperamental, maybe a bit unfocused and hard on himself, but overall, he's pretty damn near perfect. And from the first time getting to know him, there was never really a doubt in my mind that Kane was going make Dex a safe and secure place to not be in charge of every damn thing and person around him. They're just an awesome couple, and really, this was a truly feel-good book for me. Of all of them, this will be a re-read, for sure.
Ethan. Dear, sweet, broken, lonely Ethan. Just when I thought I was getting out of an entire Amy Lane series intact, along comes Ethan. And does anyone ever think to warn a girl about him? No. For the love of all that is sacred, people, why the hell not ?!?! Where is the solidarity? Where the compassion for your fellow readers?
I knew, from Chase and Dex's books, that Ethan was fragile and needy. Just the glimpses were enough to know that about him. But it didn't prepare me for the desert of emptiness that surrounds the man. From the moment we meet him as a five year old boy to the day he bumps into Jonah at the pet food store, there is a no-man's land of nothing around him. And that, my friends, is the thing that ripped me open and made me bleed. Like Kane, I never doubted Jonah for even a single moment. But unlike my certainty for Dex, I had moments where I wondered if even Jonah could cross that arid plane of ALONE to reach Ethan and make his world right. And you know that with Amy, sort of like with Joss Whedon, there's never a guarantee everyone makes it out alive, let alone unscathed. Certainly, I never get to the end of her stories unchanged as a reader. That, right there, is sort of what frightens me about her books, and, of course, what I cherish about her writing. The Johnnies Boys are no different. I'll be bracing myself for John himself. When his tale is told, I'm pretty sure it'll be a doozie.
- Current Mood: excited
Dust tickled my nose and I wiggled it, trying to stay focused. I wanted to get this damn critter out of there and get back to work before—
“Is there a problem?”
The deep voice behind me made me jump, but I managed not to move my hand as, at last, the creature I was rescuing minced it’s eight-legged way into the cup I held.
“No,” I replied, turning from the musty corner as I secured the strawless lid over the clear plastic juice cup. “Thanks.” I glanced up—and up—from my crouch to peer at the man standing behind me. He was blond, I thought, and thin, but beyond that, too blurry from this distance for details. I slid my glasses back up my nose to see him better. Chiselled features filled my vision. And yes, he was blond, in that dirty, but sinshine-streaked delicious way. Muscled arms crossed over his chest and the sight made my mouth dry. I wasn’t quite sure if it was in the good way, or the good-God-that’s-scary way.
“You the new cleaner?” he asked.
“Um.” I rose, awkwardly, because he was closer than necessary, and I didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver out from under the bars running across the center of the floor-to-ceiling mirrors. “Yes.” I held out my free hand, elbow bent awkwardly to keep the hand between us in the tight corner. The man didn’t seem to have a sense of personal space and my dry mouth syndrome was leaning towards the scary end of the spectrum.
“Dusty,” I told him, and winced, braced for the inevitable. A cleaner named Dusty. I’d already heard all the variations there could possibly be, even in my three short months in this new job.
Great. This was the boss. The guy who owned the ballet studio the company I worked for had been hired to clean. I’d heard he was a true hard ass. He took my hand in his. And good God, he had strong hands. “Dusty?” He asked.
“It’s short for Dustin” I told him, pulling my hand back and wrapping it, along with the other, around the cup. It would come in a moment. The comment. Something about a mistake on my birth certificate. My mother being drunk, or a rabid fan of the actor, or some other insulting jibe about my unusual name.
“People often call me Connie.” He shook his head. “Or they ask if I’m related to Theodore.” He made a grim face. “Because of course I’m related to a dancer who died in the fifties, because I have the same last name and I dance, too. Makes sense, right?”
I nodded, then realized he was being sarcastic, and shook my head so vigorously my glasses nearly flew off. I pushed them up my nose with a finger and blinked up at him. I barely came to his shoulder. Good God. He was tall.
“You’re lucky,” he went on as he eyed the cup I was holding. “Dustin is a cool name. Unusual, but I like it. What do you have in here?” He tapped the lid of the cup then lifted my hand with two fingers under my wrist. His eyes narrowed as he squinted past the “Starbucks” logo to see the little critter crawling about inside.
“A s-spider.” I pulled the cup against my chest. “She was building a web in the corner. I thought the little girls might be…not like her. So I was just going to put her outside.”
He actually smiled. “Sweet. Here.” He gripped the top of the cup. “I’ll take care of her. You get the rest of the floor swept. Class starts in fifteen.”
I kept my hold on the cup, but so did he.
“I won’t hurt her. I’ll put her out in the garden. I need the floors clean.”
“O-of course, sir, Sorry.” Relinquishing my rescuee, I snapped up the broom I’d left on the floor. “I’ll get right on it.”
“Relax, Dusty.” His firm hand landed on my shoulder and he squeezed. “It’s all good. Just get it done so the girls can come in and warm up.”
“You don’t have to call me sir.”
“No, sir.” I winced. “Um. Mr…” Shit. I’d forgotten his last name. “Oh God. I’m sorry.” Mortified, I ducked my head and focused on the wide swath of the broom as I pushed it quickly away.
Behind me, I heard a soft chuckle, then softer footsteps as Conrad walked out of the studio.
Ten minutes later, he was back with my empty cup, which he held out. “Did you need this back? I know some people like to recycle. I can put it in the kitchen to be washed if you like. I was headed that way. Do you drink coffee?” This last he called over his shoulder as he headed for the door again. “I’m making a cup, but I can make a pot, if you want some.” He was still talking as his voice faded behind the wall and closing door.
I strained to hear what he was saying, but didn’t dare stop mopping to go find out. I relied on this job and the last thing I needed was a complaint that I hadn’t finished it in a timely manner, or that I’d interfered with the running of his business. My boss was a less than forgiving little Italian man who took his cleaning very seriously.
“Sorry, cream and sugar?” he asked, poking his head back into the room.
I jumped, glancing up and catching his reflection in the wall of glass. He had, literally, stuck his head back through the door and was watching me in the mirror.
“In your coffee,” he clarified. “Because I have milk and cream upstairs. I can go get it, if you want some. And I have sugar or honey. Can you hang around and mop the floor up after class? I’ll pay extra. But if you have another job to go to, you can maybe do it tomorrow. Did you want coffee?”
He was extraordinary. I’d been told he was a bit of a grumpy man, and a severe instructor, but as I blinked at him and pushed my glasses into place, I was struck more by his constant babble. He didn’t seem at all unfriendly.
“Um,” I said, feeling heat once more creep up my neck. “Coffee. Yes. Please. Black. With sugar is fine. Don’t put yourself out. I can—”
“I’ll get cream.” The door swung shut as he withdrew.
With a sigh, I resumed the broom pushing. I liked cream in my coffee, sure, but I could do without. It was nice of him to make the effort.
I was finished in the studio and had moved on to the kitchen to wash up the pile of drinking glasses left from the last class when he returned with a carton of cream and a ceramic coffee mug.
“Not fond of drinking from the paper cups,” he said as he set the mug down beside another next to the pot. “Brought one for you too. So. You new with Marcello’s company? I haven’t seen you before. Usually he sends Tiffany, which is fine, though she doesn’t get into the corners and refuses to wash up after the girls. Not that I blame her. That really isn’t part of the job, you know. Not necessary.”
“It’s fine,” I said. “I don’t mind. I like it here, and it’s my last job for the day. I’ll stay and help with the floor after, if you like.”
“You sure? Because if you have something to do, I can manage. I usually do it again after Tiffany is done, just to be sure. I don’t want anyone saying I don’t run a clean studio. Besides, she doesn’t use enough soap. I prefer the smell of the floor cleaner to the smell of dancers’ feet.” He grinned and handed over a cup of coffee. “You think hockey gear stinks, you should smell a studio after a dozen ballerinas take off their pointe shoes.” He made a face. “Something else. Sorry. Did you say you were new?” A pleasant pink infused his cheeks. “You didn’t. Because I didn’t shut up long enough for you to even open your mouth.” He put his coffee to his lips and whispered a small “Sorry” into it as he blew.
“You are not what I expected,” I confessed.
His head tilted and he sipped. “Really? Do tell.”
Now it was my turn to blush and hide behind the coffee cup. “Oh.” My voice came faint and I swallowed scalding coffee. “Nothing. I shouldn’t have said—
He laughed. “Don’t worry. I know what the girls say. I’m a hard-ass.” He winked. “And I am. They need the discipline. Ballet is a hard life. Tough, nasty business. If I scare them away, they never would have made it anyway. The ones who like me are the ones who might have a chance. If they have the right body and an appetite for self-torture.” He paused for a sip, then sighed. “And want it very, very badly.”
“Did you?” I asked, and immediately wished I hadn’t. Good God. How was that any of my business? “I’m sorry.”
Instead of being angry, though, he smiled, maybe a little bit sadly. “I did. Very badly. But I don’t have the right turn out, and I hurt myself trying to get it.” He shrugged. “So now I teach. And I’m good at it.”
He shrugged. “I was, too. But I’m not now. I’m happy here. Do you need more coffee?”
“No. Thank you. I’ll just finish up in here and you can let me know when you’re ready for me to finish the floor.”
His smile was brilliant. “Okay. I have to go teach.”
“Okay.” I know I sounded soft and bewildered. It didn’t really matter, because he was a bewildering sort of man. All angles and planes and harsh lines of him, filled out by all that talking, were utterly fascinating. His voice, though incessant, was smooth and low, and really, I could listen to it all day.
In reality, I spent most of the hour and a half class in the kitchen where I couldn’t hear what was going on in the studio. There was enough to organize and tidy to keep me occupied. I suppose it said something about me that I was perfectly content—happy, even—to be bringing some semblance of order to the teenage-girl/bachelor-pad chaos of the kitchen counters.
Not that anything was actually dirty. Just…haphazard, with things piled so high on the countertop the appliances—toaster, microwave and coffee maker—were next to useless. And the cupboards were practically empty.
So I spent the time wiping the cobwebs and dust off the cupboard shelves and arranging the cups and bowls in neat rows, finding the most convenient place for the coffee, filters and sugar, and rearranging the counter space to make the best use of what little of it there was.
When I was done, everything would be plugged in and ready for use, and no one would have to shove piles of dishes and napkins and empty towel tubes out of the way to get to them.
Besides. It all gave me something to do other than obsess over Conrad’s biceps, spine-tingling height and gorgeously severe features. Sure he looked scary, but it was all backdrop for the exuberant chatter that so didn’t jive with the tales of terror I’d been told about the man.
And then one of his dancers scrambled through the studio door and into the kitchen in a frantic shuffle, hyperventilating in that way that only someone trying hard not to cry did.
“Are you all right?” I asked. I moved from the sink toward her, then thought better of it when her face crumpled and she lost the battle with her tears. Instead, I filled a cup with water and held it toward her, as though it could shield me from the heart-stopping awkwardness of the moment.
She nodded and hiccupped as she took the water, gulped a sip down then let out another soft, crumpled wail.
“Oh. Dear.” I bit my lip and searched for a napkin, which I handed to her. She took that too, without looking me in the face.
She shook her head and dabbed at her eyes.
“Clara?” Another young lady exited the studio and followed her sobs to the kitchen. “Clara, you’d better come back. He’s going to close the door.”
Clara hiccupped again, swallowed more of the water and handed the cup and soggy napkin back to me. “Thanks.” She still hadn’t lifted her gaze from the geometric pattern of the floor rug under my feet.
“Sure,” I replied, uncertain if there was something else I should be doing.
She didn’t stay, but followed her friend back into the studio. I trailed after, going to the wall of windows between studio and office to see what was going on inside.
A line of girls, hands laid delicately on the bar, studiously did not watch Clara and her friend retake their places. The music trickled through the studio door and thin walls and Conrad clapped his hands.
“Again!” He had a log stick in his hand and he banged it on the floor as he counted to eight. “Pliè, Relevè!” he swooped an arm into the air on the last word. “Clara, Clara! Stop!”
The poor girl froze, one arm raised in a graceful arch over her head, her chin lifted, her weight balanced delicately, but firmly on the very tips of her pink shoes. In fact, all the students remained immobile in the exact same pose, some straining not to wobble, others rolling their eyes as the music trickled to a halt and the piano player shook her head.
“Turn out Clara, and pull that stomach in!”
She shifted her foot the barest hint of a turn and sucked her stomach up under her ribs. It was a barely perceptible change, but it seemed to satisfy Conrad because he nodded. “Continue. And one and...”
The music began again and the students resumed their sequence. Clara faced straight ahead, ignoring the fading tracks of the tears on her cheeks and the scrutiny from her teacher. She focused on the movement and maybe didn’t even notice when Conrad examined her final pose and nodded slightly in satisfaction.
“Thank you, ladies,” he said after another ten or so minutes of what looked like torture for the girls, and a short but lovely sequence of arm movements that ended in synchronized, elegant bows to where he stood in front before the mirrors.
Everyone smiled and clapped, including Clara, and she offered him another, extra curtsy as she minced from the studio.
I hurried back to the kitchen before the flood of giggling young women swamped the office.
They all cleared out in a relative hurry after that, and I was left in the suddenly very quiet building with Conrad who was straightening his awkwardly piled CD collection and gathering abandoned drinking cups from the studio floor.
He brought them to the kitchen and smiled when he saw me.
“You’re still here.”
“Well.” I frowned. “Yes. I thought we were going to mop the studio floor. You asked for help.”
“Yes. I did. I thought you’d come back after class. I didn’t expect you to hang around…” His gaze travelled over the cleared countertop and the polished appliances. “What on earth? Did you do this? That wasn’t necessary, Dusty. I never expected.” He swallowed and offered me a crooked, but uncertain smile. “Please. Let Marcello know I’ll pay for the extra time. I—”
“No!” I held up a hand. “Please. Don’t say anything to him. Please.” Marcello would not take kindly to the thought I might have tried to pad his bill. He prided himself on his honesty and the integrity of his workers. He would see this as me trying to squeeze more money than he had contracted out of the studio owner, and that would get me fired.
“I’m sure he’ll want to know—”
“It’s just, I would have had to bicycle home and then back. It wasn’t worth it to go, so I stayed. I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I would have been bored. Besides, it looks better. More functional. And I didn’t mind doing it. It was something to do. Really.”
Now I was the one rambling, and Conrad was staring at me, eyes wide and mouth open slightly, like he was trying to say something, just waiting for me to give him an opening long enough to interject.
I stopped for a breath and it was enough for him, because he jumped in. “Then thank you. I’ve been meaning to get to it, but I’m down here seems like twenty hours a day, and by the time I’m done teaching, I just want to be away from this place for a few hours before I fall into bed, and the clean up always seems to end up at the bottom of the list of things to get done. Hey. I have a toaster? When did I get a toaster? Was this here?”
He had wandered over and now he depressed the lever on the appliance and chuckled when it flipped back up again. “Well I’ll be. Lindsay will be pleased. She’s always complaining about having to eat her tomato sandwiches on raw bread. And you cleaned the coffee maker, too. You didn’t have to do that. I would have done that after class. It’s the one thing I’m sort of religious about. Clean coffee maker. You want another cup? Where is the coffee, anyway?”
I held up a hand and he pulled back a fraction.
“Oh. I’m doing it again.”
“Sorry. How many questions did I not give you a chance to answer this time?”
I couldn’t help a smile. “Just a few. Yes, you have a toaster. I don’t know when you got it, but it was here, under a few bags of napkins and paper plates and there was a note to Lindsay on it”—which I handed him—“and I did notice the coffee maker was rather pristine. No, thank you, I don’t need another cup, but I can make you one if you like. The coffee is in the cupboard above the coffee maker.” I reached up and took it down for him, prepared to make another pot, but he took the canister from me.
“I’ll do it.”
“I don’t mind.”
He looked slightly uncomfortable as he shook his head. “I’ve got this. How about you get started in the studio? I didn’t quite get everything off the floor. Once I’ve got this going, I’ll bring the bucket and a couple of mops.”
I shrugged. “Okay.”
“I’m sorry. It’s a thing with me. I’m sort of anal about my coffee. It isn’t personal.”
“It’s fine.” I smiled and pointed to the filters, which he took down.
“Thank you,” he said, his voice low and soft. “I appreciate this.”
“It’s nothing. I sort of like bringing order to the chaos. Makes me feel”…Needed. Useful. Competent at something… “accomplished.”
I beat a hasty retreat before he could say anything to that, because to me, it sounded as pathetic as all the things I hadn’t said.
I had cleared everything off the floor when he finally joined me, two cups of coffee in hand. He handed me one with an apologetic shrug. “Just in case.”
It was warm and the smell, hazelnut, I thought, was heavenly. I accepted and sipped. “Thanks.”
His smile was radiant, and he practically skipped to the stereo. “We need cleaning music,” he announced. “Beethoven? Bach?”
One brow dashed up, but he nodded. “Something light.”
“Fantasia!” I said suddenly, remembering the scene with Mickey Mouse and his brooms gone wild.
Conrad stopped in the act of opening a CD and stared at me.
Good God. I’d done it again. Completely let my idiotic weirdness spill out all over the room.
But he grinned wide and clapped. “Perfect!” He put away the CD he’d been opening and rifled through his collection until he’d found the one I’d asked for, which he put on.
Music blared through the room and he pirouetted off to fetch the bucket and mops, admonishing me to stay put and finish my coffee while it was still hot. I finished getting everything up off the floor that I could and by the time he was back, I’d managed to ready the room for the chore ahead.
I was used to working in soothing silence. I liked my job well enough, and the quiet of closed office buildings and schools was calming. Tonight, though, there would be no such relaxing calm. Tonight, there was constant chatter under the music, a stream of what I quickly realized were rhetorical questions and incidental comments that didn’t really require more of a response than the simple acknowledgement that I was listening. I got the feeling Conrad prattled like this whether he had an audience or not, and when he occasionally looked up and caught my eye, there was such a look of contentment on his face I thought maybe he wasn’t quite used to having an audience.
The mopping up was quick, though, and I was sorry to see the task end.
Conrad, however, looked exhausted by the time we were done.
“Are you all right?” I asked as he slumped into his office chair.
I had squeezed out one mop and was headed back for the other as he opened his laptop.
“Long day.” He smiled at me, and the expression was genuine, it seemed. “Most days are. It’s a great job, but demanding. Harder on days like today when I get those glimpses, like with Clara, that they can do something if they just make that extra effort.” He had logged into his computer and glanced at me. “You on Facebook?”
For once it wasn’t a rhetorical question, I realized, when he held my gaze, calmly waiting for my reply, and I nodded. “Dustin Jordanson,” I replied automatically. “One of those Disney brooms from Fantasia is my user pic.” A soft heat crept into my face.
Conrad grinned wide and turned his attention back to the computer.
“It’s frustrating, you know,” he said as he typed and clicked, “seeing how close they are to getting it, and how they just don’t push that extra little bit to get there.” He was talking about the dancers again, I realized, even as he typed and scanned the computer screen. “And then I think, that’s what my teacher did. Pushed and pushed until I hurt myself…” He shook his head. “But I know she can do it if she focuses. It’s tough at that age. Stuck between this huge, impossible dream and school and parents and a cute boy.” He winked at me. “I can sympathize with that last one.”
I flushed. The heat didn’t crawl, or seep up my neck, this time. It thundered, right up under my hairline and I grabbed the handle of the bucket, the mop, and scurried for the kitchen sink.
I was cleaning up the mess of the water I’d splashed all over the floor in my haste when I felt his presence at my back.
“No. It’s fine. I’ll be out of your hair in just another minute, sir.”
“I told you not to call me sir. Call me Conrad. Or Connie, if you like.”
“You didn’t tell me it was your birthday.”
“It isn’t. Wait. What?” I set the rag I’d been using down and turned to face him. He was leaning in the kitchen doorway, arms crossed over his chest, a lazy smile on his face. Good God, but he was a beautiful man. “It’s the tenth. My birthday is on the tenth. Saturday.”
“Today is the tenth.”
“No, I…is it?”
“You forgot your own birthday?” His smile slipped, slumped into a frown. “Didn’t anyone wish you a happy birthday, Dustin?”
I shook my head, pushed my glasses up my nose, because they had slipped, making him fuzzy again. His expression was hard to read.
“That is unacceptable.”
I shrugged. Who would wish me a happy birthday? Sure a few people had probably posted something on my wall on Facebook, but I’d been working all day. I hadn’t really had an opportunity to look. My family had long ago stopped trying to wish me straight, stopped trying to talk me into being one of them, stopped trying, period. My coworkers thought I was a bit odd, and I hadn’t had this job long anyway. I usually took the individual jobs. I liked the peace and quiet. My friends—well. I took a sharp breath, my nostrils flaring at the sudden pain in my chest.
“No one called?” He wasn’t leaning in the doorway anymore, but was gliding across the floor, arms still crossed, face stern.
I shook my head again.
“It’s just. Nothing.” I tried to duck past him out of the small room, but he stopped me with a hand on my arm. It was a firm touch, but not a forceful one.
“Happy birthday, Dustin.”
I nodded and shoved my glasses into place. “Thank you. I should go.”
He let me go and I collected my coat and shoes, even though he followed my every move and stood over me as I bent to tie the laces. “Wait,” he said at last just as my fingers came into contact with the door handle.
“I really should—”
“Do you dance?”
“Good God, no.” I flushed again, pushed my glasses into place and looked back at him. “You don’t have to do this. It’s just a birthday. No big deal.”
“Come and dance with me.”
I shook my head. “I don’t. Can’t.” I backed against the door, against freedom from his smouldering gaze, but for some reason, I didn’t take the escape.
“I’ll play Mozart for you, if you like.” He smiled, a soft, happy expression. “Or the bit from Fantasia with the centaurs.”
Full on blushing commenced. “You know no one knows anything other than the dancing hippo and the brooms, right?”
He smiled wider. “You know.” He winked. “I know.” Turning to the stereo, he zinged through the music and watched the timer until he reached the point he wanted. “Here.” He pressed play and held his hand out to me. “Please. One dance.”
Guys like this did not ask me to dance. He was being nice because I clearly had no friends on my birthday. I had organized his cupboards and mopped his floor as social entertainment. On my birthday. How lame was that?
“Please, Dustin. I have no one who’s birthday I can celebrate. Let me do this with you?”
Well. Didn’t that put things in a different perspective suddenly. I gave him my hand and kicked off my shoes, stumbling over the one I had already forgotten was laced .
He chuckled as he caught me, and soothed the ruffle to my ego with a smooth glide of his hand down my back until it rested on my waist. The music swelled around us and he took a long stride backward. I’m sure I was meant to follow. I stood, rooted to the spot and we both stumbled and crashed, less than gracefully, into one another as we caught our balance.
“Are you all right?” he asked as he struggled to contain real laughter.
I burned with shame and tried to extricate my hand from his. “Fine. I told you I can’t do this.”
“Then I will teach you.” He gripped my fingers harder and planted his hand on me more firmly, sliding it around to cradle the small of my back. “It is what I do, after all.”
There was very little space between us, with his hand on my back like that, and I was sure he would feel the sweat trickling down my spine any moment. It would disgust him. I squirmed to get a step away, to get that hand safely back on my hip, but he smiled and moved his head closer to mine.
“Relax, Dustin. Dancing is a dirty business.” His breath brushed at the hair over my ear, disturbing it, sending a shiver over my skin. “If you aren’t breaking a sweat, you aren’t doing it right.”
“Good God,” I whispered. “Conrad, please…” I had no idea what I was asking for.
His lips brushed the upper shell of my ear. “Please what, Dustin?”
I closed my eyes and fought the urge to melt into him. “I—”
His cheek pressed firmly to my temple. “I don’t know, either, Dustin, I promise you that. Just dance.”
I’d get fired. Marcello would have my ass in a sling if he found out about this. I’d lose the last job anyone was likely to hire a guy like me to do. I’d lose my room, my food stamps. I’d have nothing. Panic closed my throat and I whimpered for lack of breath.
“Why are you shaking?” He didn’t move away, but his body language changed from swaying sensual sweeps to guarded, more contained.”
“Please. I have to go,” I whispered. “I can’t do this.”
“You are so afraid.”
“I can’t dance. I can’t lose my job.”
His hands tightened on me and I felt a smile press to my temple. “You are no longer working. The day is over. Now, this is me, a man, very attracted to you, and the attraction, I think, is mutual?”
Good God, yes. I swallowed hard.
He stopped dancing and took one small step back so he could look down on me.
My glasses had slipped again so I couldn’t make out the details of his expression, but the smile he wore seemed hazy even without the fog of my poor vision. “What?” I asked him. “What’s wrong?”
“Is it mutual?” He asked.
“Yes!” I swallowed another shocking retort and softened my voice. “Yes. It’s mutual. But…I can’t take the chance. Marcello is so—”
His smile grew, flashed across his face and fell away again. “I know about Marcello. He will have a fit. But he will not fire you. He is not an ogre.”
I was skeptical, and he must have read that because he touched the corner of my mouth with the fingers of his hand, still joined to mine.
“We understand each other, he and I, Dustin. He called this afternoon and told me he was sending a new cleaner. One I might find more agreeable than Tiffany. One I wouldn’t mind if he didn’t clean the corners.” He snickered softly. “When I asked him what he meant, he said to wait and see when I met you, and I would understand.”
“I’m good at my job,” I protested. It didn’t matter that it was a menial one. It gave me pleasure to do it, and to do it right. He’d see that, if he gave me a chance.
“I have no doubt you are. Marcello has very good instincts. He was right. If you never cleaned a single cobweb from my studio, I wouldn’t care. He’s a very smart man. I don’t think that’s why he gave you this contract.”
But Conrad was smiling slyly and pulling me back close to him again.
“You mean he was trying to set us up?”
“Perhaps he was acknowledging your birthday in his own belligerent Italian way. And reminding me there is more to life than dancing.”
And as he said that, he swung me around that studio floor and for those few, precious moments, it was like my feet didn’t even touch the ground.
- Current Mood: calm
Anyway, even having not had the chance to read the books yet, which stems, in part, from my desire to have them all ready to read, ie: written, before I start the first one, what I do know about the sheep station in Australia she's called Lang Downs and all the men living there is enough for me to say; this is going to be another heart-warming read.
Outlast The Night
Office manager Sam Emery is unemployed and out of luck. When his emotionally abusive wife demands a divorce, he contacts the one person he has left, his brother, Neil. He doesn’t expect Neil to reject him, but he also doesn’t expect the news of his divorce—and of his sexuality—to be met with such acceptance.
Neil takes Sam to Lang Downs, the sheep station Neil calls home. There, Sam learns that life as a gay man isn’t impossible. Caine and Macklin, the station owners, certainly seem to be making it work. When Caine offers Sam a job, it’s a dream come true.
Jeremy Taylor leaves the only home he’s ever known when his brother’s homophobia becomes more than he can bear. He goes to the one place he knows he will be accepted: Lang Downs. He clicks with Sam instantly—but the animosity between Lang Downs and Jeremy’s home station runs deep, and the jackaroos won’t accept Jeremy without a fight. Between Sam’s insecurity and Jeremy’s precarious position, their road will be a hard one—and that’s without having to wait for Sam’s divorce to be final before starting a new life together.
Buy the book here
“Bloody hell,” Neil spat. “What is he doing here?”
Before Sam could ask what that meant, Neil was striding across the room. The man who had caught Sam’s eye saw him coming and stood, hands at his side but clearly braced for a fight. A third man, one who looked as hard as the granite beneath their feet, interrupted Neil’s progress. “Don’t blame one man for his brother’s faults.”
“What’s he doing here?” Neil repeated.
“Working,” the older man said. “Caine hired him this morning, so unless you want to argue with him over it, back off.”
Sam tensed, knowing how badly Neil reacted to those kinds of orders when his temper was high. His jaw dropped when Neil shook himself and took a step back. “If Caine hired him, I won’t make trouble, but if he starts anything, I will finish it.”
“That’s fair, Macklin,” the other man said from his place against the wall. “You know I’m not going to start anything, so as long as he keeps his word, we’ll be square.”
“I keep my word, Taylor,” Neil ground out. “Unlike some people.”
“Neil, that’s enough.” Another man entered the conversation, a younger one, with short dark hair and an American accent. Sam figured that must be Caine. “Jeremy asked for a place to stay and a job after he left Taylor Peak. I’ve given him that. I’d appreciate it if you respect that.”
“Yes, boss. I’m sorry.”
“Introduce me to your brother.”
“Caine, this is my brother, Sam. Sam, my boss, Caine Neiheisel.”
“Nice to meet you, sir,” Sam said, even though Caine was probably Sam’s age. He owed the man the roof over his head and maybe a job. Sam planned to mind his manners.
“Please, call me Caine. We aren’t formal here. Welcome to Lang Downs.”
“Thank you. I appreciate you letting me stay for a while.”
Caine smiled, and Sam felt warmth bloom inside at the kindness he saw there. It wasn’t sexual. Sam knew Caine was with Macklin, and if Macklin was indeed the man who had kept Neil from attacking Taylor, Caine wouldn’t look twice at someone like Sam. It felt almost familial, like he’d been adopted and hadn’t known it. “Get something to eat and get settled in tonight. Tomorrow I’d like to talk to you. I have some questions, and Neil thought you might be able to help.”
“I’m happy to help,” Sam said. “I don’t know a lot about sheep, but other than industry-specific regulations, the laws don’t vary that much from one business to another. I should be able to help you out. And if I can’t, I might know someone who can get the information we need.”
“Good to hear,” Caine said. “We’ll talk about it after breakfast tomorrow. Did Neil warn you what time the day starts around here?”
“No,” Sam said.
“Early,” Neil replied. “Breakfast is at five. You don’t have to come down then, but if you don’t, you’ll only get cold cereal. Kami has no patience with people who don’t get their lazy arses out of bed.”
“I’ll be up,” Sam said. “I don’t want anyone to have to go out of their way for me.”
“I’m going to finish my dinner,” Caine said. “I’ll look for you both in the morning.”
Sam turned back to Neil as Caine walked back to where he had been sitting before Neil exploded. Sam would ask again later about Taylor and the reasons behind Neil’s animosity. For now, the food smelled delicious, and Sam was getting hungry.
“What’s for dinner?” he asked, smiling at the aborigine behind the counter when he approached.
“Wombat curry,” the man—Kami, Sam thought Neil had said—replied.
“I’ve never had wombat before,” Sam said, holding his plate while Kami ladled a thick stew onto his plate.
“You aren’t having it now either,” Neil said. “It’s either beef or mutton, probably mutton. Kami likes to take the piss with blow-ins.”
“And I fell for it.”
“You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last,” Kami said. “You want some naan with the curry?”
“Kami makes it fresh,” Neil said. “It’s as good as anything you ever got in town.”
“Sure, I’ll have a piece,” Sam said. It wouldn’t hurt to get on Kami’s good side. The man would be feeding him for the foreseeable future. Better that Kami like him.
They found a seat at a table with several other men and a pretty woman who smacked Neil on the back of the head as soon as he sat down. “What was that?” she demanded.
“Not here, Molly, please,” Neil said.
Sam hid his snicker behind a bite of curry. He had never imagined Neil looking quite so henpecked. “Fine,” Molly said, “but we will discuss this when we get home.”
Neil looked so mortified that Sam took pity on him. “Hi,” he said, “I’m Sam, Neil’s brother.”
Molly looked like she wanted to smack Neil again. “No manners,” she muttered. “Nice to meet you, Sam. I’m Molly. Welcome to Lang Downs.”
“Thank you. Everyone has been very kind.”
“It’s that kind of place,” Molly said, “which is why we’re going to discuss Neil’s outburst later. He’s second in line behind Macklin. He can’t go around acting stupid, or he’s going to lose his place.”
“It’s Jeremy Taylor,” Neil said. “What was I supposed to think?”
“That your bosses pay enough attention to who’s in their canteen to realize he was there and that if they know he’s there and don’t have a problem with it, you shouldn’t either?” Molly suggested.
“Taylor?” Sam repeated. “Like the neighboring station?”
“Yes, that Taylor,” Neil said. “Well, the younger brother, but that family. I said I wouldn’t start anything, and I won’t, but I don’t trust him. Devlin Taylor wouldn’t know good management if it bit him in the arse.”
Sam glanced at Taylor across the room, wondering what had led the other man to leave his home and come here instead. Taylor rose as Sam was looking that way, dumped his plate in the bin of dirty dishes, and headed outside. Sam couldn’t help but think the man looked lonely.
Awww. I can tell I'm going to really like Sam. Anyway, if you want to know more about Ariel, here are her links:
Web site: http://www.arieltachna.com.
Email: arieltachna at gmail dot com.
I deal in fiction, just to be clear. Rob and Lou’s Wild Weekends may read a little like Lou’s diary, but it is not a true to life document. However, I did set about writing about a really believable couple when I wrote the 4 stories that make up the bulk of my anthology.
It is always fun to write about crazy imaginative things like vampires and werewolves and billionaires but I thought it’d be fun to write a story about a couple you could walk past in the street. We all have different parts to our personas and I had great fun delving into the kinky side of Rob and Lou. I hope people reading realise that anyone can spice up their sex life, it just takes a little imagination.
Introduction to Rob and Lou.
Robert Nimble is thirty-five years old, he’s tech support for a large Internet host, and loves to play computer games to relax. He’s married to Louise Nimble, who’s a child minder, and a year younger than her husband. She bakes to unwind. Taking the old adage that stressed is desserts spelt backwards to heart.
Robert and Louise are more often known by the shortenings of their names—Rob and Lou. They’ve been married for ten years and have two children: Connor, who is six, and Elizabeth, who’s four. They live in a terraced house in a suburban outskirt of Manchester. As a family, they enjoy their yearly week-long holiday to Scarborough, and visits to the cinema to watch films that the kids and adults giggle at in equal measure. In the school holidays, they’ll often be found in museums and parks, enjoying the culture and the beauty of Britain.
They’re a smiley family, although Rob can get grumpy when his tech genius isn’t taken seriously enough, and Lou may have the patience of a saint with children, but more than two hours with her in-laws has her pulling out her hair. The children are mostly well-behaved, with an inclination to the curious, and the mischief that goes hand in hand with that. If they do run into the back of your legs, or scare you with their latest pet insect, they will apologise politely and you’re likely to instantly forgive them.
This book is not about the day-to-day life of this family, but those weekends and rare occasions that Lou and Rob get some time to themselves to indulge their sensual natures. Rob enjoys seeing his darling wife in very little clothing, and likes to indulge in intricate and imaginative role plays. Lou enjoys a bit of spanking, some domination, and bondage. She wouldn’t say she was into BDSM, per se; she just likes to dip a toe in the shallow end of that particularly pervy pond. They both like to flirt with erotic danger, playing about in public places in hopes of possibly being caught.
Rob and Lou’s Wild Weekends are just that, so hold on and enjoy the ride.
Rob and Lou’s Wild Weekends.
Blurb: Hold on tight, it’s going to get wild! Rob and Lou could pass you in the streets and you’d likely not notice them. They’re in their thirties, have a family and jobs to hold down and they do it with smiles on their faces. But occasionally they get a little time off and that’s when things get seriously sexy.
Light-hearted and fun, this mini-anthology features episodes from this couple’s wild weekends. Making the most of the mud, finding the erotic nature of an apron and even having a sexy visit to a fish and chip shop. Rob and Lou make the mundane much more pleasurable so join them on their kinky ride.
Includes a bonus short story Damsel in Distress and excerpts from other ebooks by the award winning queen of rosy, raunchy and rubenesque erotic romance, Victoria Blisse.
“I told you this was a fucking bad idea,” I yelled. “How the hell did I let you convince me to go camping on a bank holiday?”
“If I remember rightly, you were the one who suggested borrowing my brother’s tent.” Rob pulled the door flaps closed and shook the water off his anorak.
“I was just being polite,” I grumbled. “I didn’t think he’d actually lend it to us.”
“And they’ve taken the kids for the long weekend. We really shouldn’t grumble.”
“But it’s cold and it’s wet and it’s miserable and I want to go home.”
“Well, Lou, we could do that but—”
“But what?” I threw my hands in the air. “Don’t tell me you’re actually enjoying this.”
“Well, no, that’s not it. It’s just that, erm, well. Just look out the tent flap and check out the car.”
I muttered and mumbled, shot evils at my darling husband, and crawled past him to look out into the storm. He passed me a torch so I could see into the murk. It wasn’t really late, but the storm had brought darkness early, and even though it was the middle of August, it felt like a dark, oppressive winter night. I’d told Rob it would be a bad idea. It would rain, I’d be cold, but he didn’t listen. He wanted to go on a grand adventure. Something deep inside him ached to sleep under the stars, separated from nature by a bit of whippy canvas. Being the good and loving wife I am, I gave in. Also, Rob’s brother and his girlfriend had happily acquiesced to have our kids for the weekend, so I was looking forward to some adult alone time, even if it did mean I had to wear my thermals in the middle of summer.
When I spied our well-loved family car standing where we parked it, surrounded by a quagmire of mud, I really did wish I’d persuaded Rob to stay at home and just pretend we went camping. We’d not be stuck in the wild in the middle of a thunderstorm then. We’d be rolling around in bed, eating snacks we don’t let the children eat, and fucking with abandon.
“Fuck.” I cursed. “I told you we should have parked it in the car park.”
“You did no such thing,” Rob exclaimed. “You dragged me in here and fucked my brains out.”
He was quite right, I had. Well, he looked all sexy with his sweat-beaded brow. I’d enjoyed watching him pitch the tent. It involved a lot of bending over, and my husband has a bloody gorgeous arse. I spent my time pretending to help, but really I was ogling his body and thinking wicked thoughts about having my way with him. So, instead of telling him we needed to park on the tarmac at the car park, I kissed him and pulled him into the tent. I didn’t strip him, I just opened his trousers. I had to struggle out of my own jeans so I could only watch him stroke his cock for a frustratingly long time, but as soon as I could I climbed on top of him. I pushed him down and straddled his waist. The scent of the crushed grass, mixed with his musk was so primal that it added excitement to what we were doing. I pushed down until I felt him stretch me. It was a heady mix and made me feel connected to nature in some kind of primitive way.
Buy links and more info: http://victoriablisse.co.uk/books/rob-lo
Individual Buy links:
All Romance Ebooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-r
Although, I admittedly ostly lurk on the forum Myck most appears on, since that particular forum is chuck full of authors I greatly admire and that brings out my shy in a big way, I've noticed he seems to be a pretty soft-spoken, understated kind of guy. Or maybe that's cyberspace mellowing him a bit :) All I know is that he seems to be a kind heart and a well-spoken man
So first, here's a bit about him that I lifted from one of his publishers, JMS Books:
About Mykola Dementiuk
A Ukrainian born in West Germany, Mykola (Mick) Dementiuk grew up and survived on New York's tough Lower East Side streets, which are now a bare echo of what they once were. He is the author o Holy Communion Lambda Awards Winner 2010/Bisexual Fiction) Vienna Dolorosa, Times Queer, n 100 Whores. His other writings in e-book ar Dee Dee Day, Variety, The Spice of Life, Murder in Times Square, Times Square ... in Brooklyn?, Queers of Central Park, A Sucker for the Circus, Times Square Cutie and Stallers, More Tales of Times Square Cuties, n On the Prowl.
For more information, please visi mykoladementiuk.com.
And his latest release, Always Looking, from JMS Books
"I started going out early with girls and guys, not for sex because at that age, who the hell knew what sex was?"
With those words, Danny's coming-of-age begins. From the gloomy, stifling hallways of high school in the 1960's to the vast expanse of 1970's New York, young Danny explores the complexities of love and lust in the arms of Luba, a girl he believes himself in love with, and then in the company of various men, from whom he learns his true nature.
Raised by a poor, single mother whose upcoming marriage to a second husband threatens Danny's shaky world, Danny finds that accepting -- and ultimately embracing -- the unpredictability and promise of his future means letting go of the past and taking the leap of faith he knows he needs in his journey to maturity.
And I'm sort of, well, no, not "sort of" I' definitely tealing a bit right off his blog to introduce the one I really, really want to read the most: Kinky Pubes"
quot;Kinky/Pubes" is out now! [Last October] Autobiographic novella about a young man lost in alcoholic consumption until he meets a man who will set him straight and refuses to take any crap from him. A short novella but more truthful than anything I've ever written before From JMS Books.
I'm always pleased to find new authors to read, and I hope a few of you find something here to intrigue you. And Myck, thanks for hanging out and offering your quiet encouragement. You never know who's listening, maybe, but I thank you for just being around as an example of yet another author who makes this business, and our tiny corner of it, worth the hassles.
- Current Mood: impressed
Hugh Jackman should always have long hair. Just my opinion.
I have been meaning, for some time, to mention a blog that posts excerpts of gay and lesbian new releases. A few of my own books have been featured there, and it's nice exposure for authors. It's also a great place to find your next read, if you've been casting about for one. It's pretty easy to remember, since it's called Gay and Lesbian Fiction Excerpts, and today, it's featuring Mykola Dementiuk's novel Minasota Strip: A tale of Times Square Queers. This is a book I'm eager to pick up when funds allow, but I thought I'd share the excerpt with you, so here's the link Click the cover to get to a purchase site)
And finally for today, an interesting review of my own cross dresser story, Lace was posted on The Romance Review. I like this review, because believe me, I've read some reviews by Vantina Heart of my stuff, and she's not kidding when she says some of it is a real miss for her. And that's okay. It means I can trust her when she says she liked this one, because she's not afraid to say when she doesn't like something. I like that kind of honesty. Also interesting is that she's the first person I know of who hasn't liked Levi, and that, I find curious and kinda neat
- Current Mood:okay
You would not believe some of the stuff I found in there This MS has some...interesting shit stashed away in the depths of it's overflowing file folder. And I'm not talking crumb-filled empty pizza boxes or baggies of the good stuff, either. I'm talking about some strange-ass shit that came out of my brain while I was in the throws of OMG-I-can't-write-this-story-what-the-he
So, how about a conversation between what appears to be me and Stanley, one of the four main characters in the book (he's a music agent who has handled some really big-name country and western mega stars, including his ex-wife's career, and his best friend's career. I wanted to know what was in his head, I guess, because he did go through that really awkward teen-age stage where he wouldn't open his mouth to say boo to me other than to tell me he was bored or that he wanted the car keys to abscond from the story entirely)
M: First song you remember you couldn’t get enough of?
S: The highwaymen. No. Pancho and Lefty, when I was bout nine. Wasn’t till I was more like fifteen, I knew those two were doing the nasty.
M: So, you’re a fan of Old School? Willie Nelson and Kris?
S: Yea. Mostly because Vance and I, we grew up on that shit.
M: You and Vance.
S: I thought we were here to talk about music.
M: I suppose we can talk about music, then. When did you start playing?
S: *big sigh* Let’s see….maybe…around nine or ten? Vance was already onto his second guitar. I played along on his castoff. He taught me my first chords.
M: He must have taught you a lot of things.
S: *shrugs* sure.
Me: “Sure”? That’s it?
S: Music, remember?
M: Right. Sure. Okay…did you ever play in a band?
S: Well yeah. All through high school. I played guitar or bass. We had a girl drummer, and this skinny little mouse of a kid on keyboards. Kerry. He plays for *big famous band* now. Vance was out front, of course.
M: Of course. Did you get Kerry his gig, too?
S: Nah. He was shy, but wicked talented. Plus, he always had his shit together, you know? He didn’t need me. In fact, he pointed me in the direction of Vance’s first band members. Introduced us after he left high school to tour. We were in senior year when I started booking us real gigs. Ones that actually paid for themselves and left a bit of cash in our pockets, besides.
M: So Vance was your first.
M: First client. He was the first artist you managed.
S: Yeah. I was dating Sherie by then.
M: Sherie. She’s one half of Sky Daughters.
S: Yes, she is.
M: With Nancy Tompson.
S: *frowning* Yes.
M: They’re good. I like their sound. Ballsy, for a couple of chicks. Even more so for a chick couple. How did that happen?
S: Geez, you’re a bitch.
M: Yes. Answer the question.
S: It isn’t a secret. Sherie was good on her own, but too mellow for real mass appeal. She needed a brighter voice to counter hers, and someone to be the front man. But she didn’t get along with any of the guys we auditioned. Or, probably more like she intimidated the hell out of most of them. She’s like that.
M: But not you
S: *grinning* No. Not me. I called her on her brooding crap fests. She didn’t pull that with me for long. When I finally got her to smile…*trails off*
M: Gonner, were you?
S: Yeah. Guess I was. Even quit Vance for a while.
Me: *raised eyebrows*
S: Vance’s band, Quit the band. I quit Vance’s band. Still found them gigs, but I was pretty into her, there for a year or two.
M: Until you found Nancy.
S: *deep sigh* No. Even after I found Nancy. I was still into her. She was just more into Nance than me.
M: That still hurts.
S: Will you get out of my head!
M: Doing my job, here, buddy. If you don’t tell me what’s going on with you, I cannot make this happen, and I’m going to have to make shit up. And believe me, I can probably make up way worse than what actually ever happened to you.
S: Well, maybe you’ll have to, because nothing is going on with me.
M: You keep letting Vance fuck you silly. Why is that?
S: I thought we were not going to talk about him.
M: I lied.
S: I didn’t. You wanted to know about my career.
M: Your career is boring-ass shit. You manage bands. You make stars. I get all that. Big wow. You fuck your best friend regularly, even though you *claim* there is no relationship there, and you get horny like a sixteen-yr-old virgin every time you hear Damian’s voice. *That* is my story, and I want it.
S: You’re like the worst paparattzzi ever!
M: You going to smash my camera and break my nose? Or are you going to tell me what I want to know?
So, technically, he never did come clean about why he let his best friend have his way with him so often, but he did, eventually, give in to his crush on the goth rocker boy, Damian, and the rest, as they say, is history. So now all we have to do is fix up the old room, dust out the cobwebs and move the next story in. Right now, I have Skate and Denny from Rainbow Alley and a new singer, Coby Birmingham vying for the good room. Not sure who's gonna come out on top, though Coby is slated to move out by the middle of next month, so looks like I have my work cut out for me. Wish me luck!
- Current Mood: crazy
Anyway, snce I really don't have a lot to say, I thought I would point you in the direction of Kage Alan's blog because I found this post highly entertaining. It's his take on people getting what they want and how they go about it. These over Those: Your Feminin Wiles Have No Effect on Me I would encourage you to poke arunf his blog some. Its one of the few I read on a regular basis, because no matter what he's talking about, he finds a way to make it entertaining and enjoyable.
Also, because I particularly like this drawing, I thought I might share.
- Current Mood: accomplished