Sunday, April 7, 2013

First Comes Love, Chapter 2

At long last, the second installment of First Comes Love.  This chapter is rated NC-17 and has a trigger warning for reluctance.  Forgive the formatting; I didn't feel like dealing with having to retype the whole thing.
   
    “This fucking bastard is your roommate?”  Kayne’s voice rumbles against my back and growls, maybe a little louder than strictly necessary, over my shoulder. 
    Josh doesn’t look much more pleased than I imagine my boyfriend does at this moment, and I thank my past self for putting me in between the two of them.  To be honest, I hadn’t really been thinking at all about what it might be like for the three of us to all come face-to-face for the first time.  Ever since ripping open the roommate assignment letter I’d gotten four weeks ago and seeing his name printed in stark black-and-white, I’d been holding my breath hoping that Josh might see my name on his letter and immediately change rooms.  But even after all this time and all the history between us, it turns out that he’s still a stubborn bastard.
    And that I’m still a glutton for punishment.
    “Calm down, babe,” I reply, sliding my hand along Kayne’s arm to squeeze his fingers between mine.  To Josh, I add, “We’re not staying.  Just stopped to grab my hoodie.”
    One eyebrow lifts.  “Are you insane?  It’s three billion degrees outside.”
    “Who said anything about being outside?”  I smirk at him.  “Kayne’s off campus, and his roommate keeps the A/C at negative twelve.”
    Kayne squeezes my fingers back.  “And just who said anything about me giving you time to get cold?”  His voice is a sexy almost-murmur, but again, unnecessarily loud. 
    Josh’s face reddens and he glances away toward the dresser, clearing his throat.  “Mind telling me which drawers are mine before you go shoving yourselves down each other’s throats?  I don’t really feel like getting an eyeful of your tighty-whities.”
    “Huh,” I say, with mock surprise.  “Guess some things do change after all.  It’s the top three for you, prude boy.”
    Kayne nudges me with his pelvis.  “Can we go already?  Your flirting is starting to make me nauseous.”
    I’m not flirting, is the first thing that wants to come out of my mouth.  But knowing how juvenile and guilty that will make me sound, I settle for bumping him back with my ass instead.  Then I untangle all but one hand from his grasp to snag my hoodie from off the end of my bed.  “Got it.  Let’s go, Papa Bear.”
    “And you,” Kayne adds, as I tug him toward the door.  He plants himself to stare at Josh.  “You’d better not fuck with him, or I will fuck you up.  Got it?”
    Josh glances at me, a cool, level gaze that makes my guts pinch up a little.  “No worries.”
    “Let’s go, Kayne.”  I pull again, and after a second he turns away and follows me out, slamming the door behind him, which makes me jump.  “Jesus, was that really necessary?”
    “Was what necessary?”
    I pull my hand away as we start down the hallway so I can spread both arms in a universe-encompassing gesture.  The hoodie in my right hand flies out wildly, the zipper nearly catching me in the eye.  “Any of that.  All of it.  You might as well have pissed on his bed.  Or mine.”
    He shakes his head irritably and stalks off ahead of me.  His longer legs easily out-stride mine, and since I don’t feel like looking like a needy little boy, I don’t try to scurry after him to catch up.  Sighing, I tie the sleeves of my hoodie around my waist and follow him out to the parking lot across the street.
    Kayne continues to fume silently next to me until we pull into his apartment complex.  Finding an empty space near his building, he slams the car into park and turns on me.  “Why the fuck didn’t you tell me you were rooming with Josh fucking Talmadge?”
    “Kayne - ”
    “Don’t even.  I asked you to come live with me this year and you said no, and then -- ”
    “That was last spring -- ”
    “And then, when you found out you were rooming with him, you still didn’t change your mind.  And you didn’t tell me it was going to be him.  What the fuck, Cohen!”  He turns the ignition and yanks the keys out, then practically throws himself out of the car.  The door slams and in the rearview I watch him stomp away, not even waiting or checking to see if I’m behind him.
    “Shit,” I moan, falling back against the seat and digging the palms of my hands into my eye sockets.  Just dandy.  Bad enough we’d spent the whole weekend moving the both of us up here, a chore he despises.  I should’ve known better than to spring Josh on him like that.  Now I’m going to have to spend the rest of the day kissing ass -- among other things -- to make up for it, and even so, he’s still not going to believe that I didn’t pick Josh over him.  That Josh has nothing to do with why I told him no when he asked me to move in with him this year.
    Predictably, the apartment door’s locked when I finally drag myself out of the car and up to the second floor, but Kayne’s roommate, Derek, answers on my third round of knocking.
    “Dude’s pissed at you,” he remarks as he flops back down on their third- or fourth-hand couch to pick up his paused shooter game.
    “Thanks, didn’t notice,” I mutter at the back of his head.  Taking a deep breath, I start down the hallway, an inmate on his way to the executioner.  Coming to a stop in front of the last door on the right, I rap my knuckles gently against the wood.  “Kayne?”
    No answer, so I put my hand on the doorknob and let myself in.  Kayne’s sitting at his desk, jabbing away at the keyboard of his laptop, not looking away from the screen even when it’s my turn to close the door unnecessarily loudly behind me.  I cross my arms and clear my throat, shifting my weight onto one hip.  “Kayne.”
    “What.”
    “Come on, what are we doing?”  I modulate my voice, soft, a little wheedling, a zookeeper calming an irate tiger.  I imagine a tail flicking back and forth.  “You just gonna be pissed at me all day?”
    He turns reluctantly to face me, second-hand desk chair squeaking in minor protest.  Hard green eyes bore into mine.  “Dunno.  You gonna apologize and make it up to me?”
    It takes focused effort to keep my muscles from tensing up.  Apologize for what, asshole?  You were the one being a pissy bitch.  Instead I draw a deep breath and call on years of practice to relax my body, calm my face.  I even manage an apologetic little smile, pushing the hair out of my eyes.  “Sorry, babe.”
    He jumps up from his chair, eyes flashing, the tiger slipping his chains.  Or maybe it’s that I was the stupid tourist who thought it would be a good idea to go inside the cage.  “You don’t even fucking know what you’re sorry for,” he snarls, advancing on me with long strides.  “You’re so used to batting those pretty blue eyes and getting whatever you want.  Not this time.  I’m sick of it!”
    When his hand comes up and grabs my arm, I don’t flinch.  When he spins me and shoves me face-first up against the wall next to his dresser, I don’t flinch, either.  It’s not until he has one hand pressed into my back and the other fumbling with the front of my pants that it starts to occur to me that I should probably do something -- fight back, protest, something.
    Kayne’s hand yanks my hoodie off my waist, then loosens my belt and pulls it open.  He fights with the button at the top of my skintight jeans.  Both of my hands are slapped up against the wall where they landed to keep me from busting my face against it, and now one slides down to help him out.  Together we slip the metal circle from its loop, and for a flickering moment I feel like maybe we’re on the same team again.  There’s no reason for me not to want this, no reason for us not to work together towards the same end.
    Then he pulls down the fly and pushes my hand away.  The hand pressed to my back lifts, and he shoves his fingers into my waistband and forces denim and the cotton underneath over my hips and down my thighs.  Kayne’s hands close around my biceps again and he pulls me away from the wall, spinning and practically throwing me halfway across the room towards his bed.  I stumble, nearly trip over the confines of my own pants, and right myself in time to be grabbed again and forcefully escorted down onto the mattress.  Behind me, I hear the jingle of belt and purr of zipper, frenzied movement shaking the bed underneath us, before his weight presses down on me.
    “Lube?” I gasp out, turning my head so my hair is out of my eyes.  There’s not a whole lot of room for lung expansion just now. 
    “Think I’m stupid?” Kayne grunts back.  His fingers bite into my hips and he pulls me back up onto hands and knees.  Keeping himself anchored to my ass with one hand, I feel him lean back to grab the bottle out of his nightstand.  It opens with a pop, and a second later a cold, slick finger down my ass crack makes me jump.  Maybe mistaking my shock for resistance, Kayne yanks me back towards him, sinking two fingers into me at the same time.
    “Ah, shit,” I hiss out between my teeth.  I have to blink rapidly against the burn and force my jaw to relax to remind myself that it’s not going to get good if I stay tense.  Especially since other than agreeing to use lube -- and that’s as much, or more, for his comfort as mine -- my boyfriend is still not showing any signs of wanting this to be gentle.  Already his two fingers are twisting and scissoring, and I can feel a third worming its way in to join the party.
    Abruptly he yanks his fingers out.  “Enough,” he snarls, and I hear a small ripping noise.  A condom wrapper.
    “Bastard,” I snarl back, craning my neck to glare at him.  “What, you think he’s somehow managed to fuck me already?”
    “He can do whatever the fuck he wants.”  Kayne positions himself at my entrance and pushes.  “You’re the one who needs to remember who you belong to.  And I’m not fucking holding my breath that that’s been happening.”  With a grunt and a hard movement of his hips, he impales me in one, forcing the anger out and leaving me gasping for breath and self-control.
    “Fuck...Kayne...”  My head arches back, then drops, hair falling damp and tickling into my face.
    “Yeah.  You know I’m the best, baby.” 
    His hands slide up my back under my shirt, pushing it over my head and down around my wrists.  His fingers lock over mine, holding me down, keeping me anchored even as his dick threatens to tear me in half and into a million sparkling pieces.  His breath is heavy against my ear just before his tongue laps against my earlobe and sucks it into his mouth.  I moan and turn into the gesture, giving him better access to bite and tug.  His teeth graze along the shell of my ear and I shudder and shove convulsively back onto his dick, which makes him gasp and then groan into my ear.  His mouth sucks kisses down the back of my neck and then his tongue darts out and licks a trail along my backbone.  His hands follow against my chest, grazing my nipples, my abs, back down to my hips and then one wraps hot and sweaty around my shaft and starts jerking me off.
    “Oh, God, yeah.”  Eyes squeezed shut, I lift my head again, my entire body curling and flexing into his touch.  His dick pounds in and out, brushing my prostate and snapping white lightning through my belly and into my balls.  His hand works my shaft like a boss, heat and friction just right, fingers twisting under the head and back down again.
    “Fuck, yes, Cohen,” Kayne gasps out behind me.
    A flash of hooded hazel eyes sears behind my eyelids, kiss-swollen red lips shaping my name even as Kayne’s voice provides the soundtrack.  Cohen.  Just that one word, that one image, and I’m coming, shooting so hard across Kayne’s hand and the bedspread that it kind of surprises me that we’re not rocketed backwards.  It’s so intense that I almost miss the tightening of Kayne’s hand on my hip and the stuttering pulse of him against my ass, the way he freezes in mute tension at the peak of his final thrust. 
    But he’s not spilling into me.  He’s spilling into cheap latex.  Slamming back to planet Earth, I can only wish that it was latex cheap enough to break.  He pulls out, both of us grunting at the feeling on oversensitive skin, and when I roll onto my back I see that there was no such luck.  Kayne carefully peels the condom off, wraps it in tissues, and tosses it carelessly into the trashcan before flopping next to me.
    “Fuck, man,” he sighs.  The fringes of his brown hair are dark with sweat, sticking to his forehead, and he sweeps them clear before tucking a hand behind his head.  “I don’t understand it.  Why the fuck would you even want go anywhere else when what we’ve got together is so damn good?”
    Slowly chilling in my own sticky skin, I glance over at him.  His green eyes are slitted, studying me like some strange species of potential prey, and I am reminded of the way he stalked toward me, the way he shoved me and forced me down.  The way I didn’t fight back, because I wanted it.  No, not wanted.  Needed.  I’d fucking needed it.  Why would I want anyone -- anything -- else, when Kayne knows me so exactly?
    Those hazel eyes flash in my memory again.  I blink and look away.  But I hadn’t gone anywhere else.  I’d never cheat on Kayne.  We were tight.  We’d been together forever -- or at least it felt that way sometimes.  I hadn’t done anything to betray him.  And he’d used a condom anyway.  Like I was a cheap whore.  Like we weren’t boyfriends.  Like I didn’t mean anything to him.
    I’m not aware that I’ve moved, that I’ve pulled my shirt back over my head and am rolling to stand and pull my pants back up, until a hand closes around my forearm.  I look over in surprise.
    “Aren’t you going to stay tonight?” 
    It’s not a question so much as a statement, but I shake my head anyway and pull my arm away.  At first I’m not sure he’s going to let go, and then he opens his fingers and lets me slip out and roll to standing.
    “I have stuff I need to do.  Make sure I’m ready for classes tomorrow.  You know how I am.”  Tucking my belt back through the loops where it had fallen out, I risk a glance at him again, the sated tiger reclining in all his natural glory.
    “Nerd,” he murmurs, but he throws me a lazy smile.  One finger darts out and catches my belt loop, tugging me back against the bed so I stumble and have to catch myself on the mattress.  He grabs the back of my head, threading his fingers through the dry strands of my over-dyed hair, and pulls me in for a kiss.  “See you tomorrow.”
    It’s not until I’ve retrieved my hoodie, said goodbye to Derek, and made it outside that I remember.  Kayne drove me here.
    It’s gonna be a long fucking walk back to the dorm.

Friday, January 25, 2013

First Comes Love, Chapter 1

This is a project I started a few months back that stalled out in the second chapter.  On a nice long drive today listening to this story's theme song ("No Light, No Light" by Florence + the Machine, if you were wondering) on repeat, I found myself drawn back to Josh and Cohen and realized that I needed to start out with the way I should've, and wanted, to start out the last time but didn't.  No guarantees that it won't still stall out somewhere...but the characters are coming through much more crisply for me now that I started them out where they initially asked to meet.  *Trigger warning: a more-or-less tongue-in-cheek brief contemplation of suicide and mention of weapons.*

"I still don't think it's too late to find off-campus housing."

My father looks at me from across the futon frame we're carrying between us.  Recognizing the thunderclouds that are gathering over his forehead, I duck my head and use it as an excuse to wipe my sweating face against my shoulder.
 
"What the hell is your problem, Joshua?" he barks.  "Last spring you told us you wanted to come back to the dorms.  Now for the past week you've been moping around and whining about wanting to live off campus.  Look at me!"

I lift my eyes to his and work very hard not to flinch at his expression.  "I'm sorry," I start to say, but he cuts me off.

"There's no choice anymore, Josh.  This is it.  I'm sorry" - his tone says he's anything but - "if you suddenly found out that all of your friends decided to move out of the dorms for their junior year or something, but you made the choice and now you're stuck with it for the rest of the year.  Try again next year."

"Yes, sir."

"And quit that goddamned mumbling!"

"Yes, sir!"

As we approach the door, my mom scurries around us to open it and I suppress another flinch as Dad backs into a room that's been partially moved into already.  But when we get all the way in, we're the only ones here.  Quietly, I release a breath I hadn't been aware of holding, and help Dad get the futon settled in against the far wall.

Straightening up and rubbing sweat from my forehead, I turn to survey the rest of the setup.  The bed are bunked against the left-hand wall, the top bunk already neatly made up with white sheets and a comforter that looks like a rainbow used it to wipe its ass.  My roommate has already laid claim to one of the twin desks pushed against the opposite wall, too, if the bamboo plant and the cup exploding with pens, pencils, and highlighters is anything to go by.  There's not much I can do about his choice of bedspreads, but I discreetly wander over and spin the cup around before my parents have a chance to read the slogan.  While, yeah, I would be thrilled if they suddenly decided that off-campus housing would be much better for me this year, there's no way in hell I'm having it go down as a repeat of high school's sophomore year.

"I'll make up your bed for you, honey," Mom twitters, already elbow-deep in the sheets and blankets we carried in on top of the futon.  "Why don't you go out and grab some more boxes from the car?"

"Sure, Mom."

The three of us shuttle back and forth between the car and the terrace level for the better part of the next hour, until at last the car is empty and the room is full.  Dad slams the hatch door shut behind the last box of clothes and shakes out his keyring in search of his car key.

"There you go, son.  All ready for another year.  I'm sure we'll see you at midterm break, but don't forget to call your mother in the meantime.  You know how she worries."

"Oh, Rob, I was thinking we might help him unpack a little, or at least take him out to lunch before we go," Mom pleads.

"Beth, please.  He's a big boy.  He's done this twice already, and he knows how to hang up his own clothes.  Besides, the cafeteria will be open later and that's why he wanted to stay in the dorms again this year."  He shoots me another thunderous so-deal-with-it look before dismissing me and moving to the driver's door.  "He'll be fine.  You worry about him too much."

"You'll be fine?" Mom echoes, gazing anxiously up at me.  She tugs at my sleeves, straightening hems that got folded during the moving madness.  I don't think she's even aware that she's doing it.  I shift the box of clothes to my hip and give her an awkward one-armed hug around her shoulders.

"I'm fine, Mom.  Go home.  I'll call you later, once I'm settled in, okay?"

"Okay."  She flashes me a quick, small smile, squeezes my hand, and follows Dad to the front of the car.  As the car starts up and pulls away from the curb, she rolls her window down and blows me a kiss.  "Be safe sweetie.  I love you!"

Finally.  They're gone.  I head back inside with my last box.  As I trade the blazing late-summer sun for the dim coolness of the lobby, I blow out a breath, letting go of a weight heavier than any of the boxes we hauled in.  August is a month with too many sharp little minutes.  It's a torture sort of how I would imagine it would feel to be methodically turned into a human pincushion, except instead of my body, all of these minute-needles jab into my mind, my heart, my psyche.  Ever since high school graduation, move-in day can never get here fast enough.

Except for maybe this year.  Back at the room, I pause with my free hand on the worn brass doorknob, the muscles between my shoulder blades knotting anew.  Maybe I should just kill myself instead.  Seriously, I think there's something in the student handbook that says if you die during the school year, your roommate gets a four-point in every class as consolation.  My roommate hasn't even seen me yet, and I doubt he would suffer that much grief over me.  It would really be a win-win for everybody.

Not that I have any way of killing myself right now.  Not out here in the hallway, unless there's some way to systematically brain myself to death with this cardboard carton of clothing.  Either I have to go in the room just to look for a weapon - Hey, don't mind me, just here to try to kill myself.  Don't suppose you packed a gun in with your toiletries? - or I have to wait until the cafeteria opens and I can get, like, a butter knife or something equally as stupid.  Besides, what if he hasn't even come back yet?  And then here I'll be when he does, sitting on the filthy brown dorm carpet outside of our room like a complete emo loser.

"Hey."

The voice jerks me out of my melancholy, and I glance to the right to see another guy just coming out of the next door.  He grins over as he locks it behind him, then pockets the key and comes over, hand extended.

"You must be one of our suitemates," he continues as I drop the box in front of the door and automatically return the handshake.  "I'm Nate.  My roommate's Dan, but I doubt you'll see him around all that much.  Girlfriend lives on the first floor."  He lifts his eyebrows to indicate the floor above us.

"Josh," I reply.  "I don't know if you've met my roommate.  I haven't seen him yet."

Nate shakes his head.  "Haven't seen anyone else around.  Wanted to catch one of you guys, though, see if you had any plans about divvying up the bathroom cleaning."

"I can get it," I say.  Maybe a little too fast, judging from the way his eyebrows are on the rise again.  "Heh.  I just mean I don't have a problem with doing my part.  I can be kind of a clean freak sometimes.  I guess if you guys are okay with stocking the TP, we can probably pick up some cleaning supplies and take care of that.  And then if there's a problem or whatever, we'll just let you guys know."

"Yeah, man, that'll work.  If you're sure you don't mind," he adds quickly.

I'm pretty sure if we rotated who cleans the bathroom, his turn would not be all that thorough.  Possibly it would be completely nonexistent.  While I'm still shuddering on the inside, on the outside I nod and reassure him that I definitely don't mind.

"All right, man.  I gotta get going."  He clasps my hand and pulls me into a swift, back-slapping bro-hug.  "Good to meet you, though.  Sure I'll see you around."

"Yeah.  You too."  Blinking at the unexpected contact, I sort of frozenly watch him head down the hallway and disappear into the terrace lounge before I manage to thaw enough to pick the box back up and let myself into my room.  In the wake of Nate's enthusiasm, I have somehow managed either to forget that I share this room or to forget that my roommate might still not be here, so it's a funny kind of shock to be startled by still being the only one here when I walk in.

"Guess I should get some of this shit out of the way," I mumble, as though talking to myself will clear the embarrassment of being startled, even though nobody was here to see me and so I have no good reason to be embarrassed.  Shaking my head, I crouch down to rip open the box I brought in with me, then slide open the closet door.  My roommate has moved the single tall dresser inside and hung up his shirts and dress pants to the left of it, so I start hanging my shirts to the right.

Just as I'm moving on to jeans and tees and considering whether I really want to risk an eyeful of my roommate's underwear by going through the dresser drawers to see which ones are still available, the door bursts open behind me.  I jump for the second time this afternoon, send up a quick thank-you to God for my being both in the closet and on the hinge side of the door so I couldn't be seen, and then ease my way to my feet.

"Hello - oh!"  My roommate sees me and freezes, one hand still in the act of pushing the door closed.

"Cohen.  Hello."  My eyes flicker over him, from the blond skater-punk hair complete with a flop of bright pink across the side of his face, to the pierced lip, to the black ringer tee loudly proclaiming damn straight i'm not, to the wad of thin rainbow-hued rubber bracelets bunched around one wrist, to the bright yellow skinny jeans, all the way down to black Converse decked out with marker doodles and smiley-face shoelaces.  It only takes a fraction of a second, but when I get back to his face again, he's not only recovered, but smirking.

"Like what you see?" he asks, and pops one hip.

"Should I like that I see that you're still a little slut?" I retort, words slipping out like goldfish and me without a net.

But Cohen doesn't even bat an eye.  "Only for you, Joshie.  But that was, what?  Four years ago."  He whistles in awe.  "I learned.  And I'm picking 'em better now."

The door swings open again, right on cue - what is this, fucking Glee? - and another guy strides in.  He's about my height, which means he's got an easy four, maybe five inches on Cohen, with light brown hair and a swimmer's build that his tight t-shirt only accentuates.  He wraps a lean, ropy arm around Cohen's waist, as casually as if he were resting it along the roof of his car.

Cohen's hand, the one attached to the wrist with all the bracelets, closes comfortably around the arm, pale against deep tan.  "This is my boyfriend, Kayne.  Kayne, this is Josh.  My ex-best friend."

Monday, November 12, 2012

An Excerpt from a New Project!

This is from somewhere in the front-middle of a new, as-yet-unnamed project that will be a sort of combination alternate history/apocalypse survival/biopunkish/military story.  I'm still in the midst of doing crazy research for it, figuring out all of my characters and their backstories and inner conflicts, and deciding what external conflicts are going on around them.  I'm hoping it'll end up being a 2- or 3-book series, but we'll have to see how things unfold.  I don't honestly anticipate much with the gay boys, as far as being a major part of the plot, but this scene announced itself late last week and I couldn't not write it.  It actually helped me figure out quite a bit about where the characters are right now and what's going on externally, and solidified some of the internal conflicts that are manifesting themselves in the way characters are acting and reacting toward one another.  For reading clarity, Jake is a former American soldier, and Torry is a civilian who was held for military/government experimentation following the release of a biochemical weapon into the United States by the Japanese during World War II.  He escaped the compound, but has no memory of what happened there or of his life prior to his imprisonment.  The time period is somewhere in the early/mid-1950s, though I'm not sure the speech reflects that.  Eh, it's a rough draft, and comments on how to make it more accurate are welcome.  Enjoy!

*Trigger: reluctance.*

Jake pushed away from the desk and scrubbed calloused palms over facial muscles tight with fatigue.  His eyes, his jaw, even his hair ached.  There was just no conceivable way they could survive another week down here, no matter how he manipulated the numbers.  Somebody was going to have to go Topside soon.  His elbows dropped onto the desktop, and he exhaled heavily into the palms still covering his face.

Behind him, the door slammed open, crashing into the wall and startling him up and out of his chair.  Spinning into a defensive stance, Jake almost started to relax when he realized it was just Torry.  But something in the other man's eyes kept his hackles up, and he held steady as Torry left the doorway and stalked toward him, only pausing to catch the door on its rebound and swing it shut behind him.  There was a predatory grace to his movements, underscored by the muted click of the latch finding home, and Jake eyed him warily as the gap between them closed to mere inches.

"Torry," he greeted belatedly, nodding slightly.  "Can I help you with something?"

The corner of the man's mouth twitched upward in an expression that was anything but a smile.  That was the only warning Jake got before he found himself pinned against the wall by his shoulders, catching the breath that had been slammed out of him.  Shocked, he stared into green eyes smoldering with dark fires, uncomfortably aware of Torry's knee pressing upward between his legs.

Torry's lips peeled away from his teeth in a feral grin.  "Yes.  It certainly feels as if you can."

"What are you - "  The question guttered out on a visceral groan when a hot hand closed unexpectedly over the front of his trousers.  He grabbed at the attached wrist, yanking Torry's hand off.  "Stop," Jake commanded, and shoved him away with both hands against his chest.  Adrenaline burst hot inside of him, and he glared at Torry, breathing hard, hands still up to fight him off.

"Why?"  Torry snarled.  In less than a breath - less than a blink - he pinned Jake's wrists up against the wall.  The planes of his body cleaved sinuously to Jake's, hips and erections grinding almost painfully together.  The space between their lips was a thudding heartbeat, a chasm collecting flickers of emotion from both sides.  Fear.  Need.  Anger.  Pain.

Then, earthquake.  Terrain destructed and remapped itself in catastrophic fury.  The chasm disappeared in a crash of titanic forces.  Jake sucked a startled breath through his nose, otherwise frozen against Torry's onslaught.  With wide eyes, he stared in extreme close-up at the other man.  Torry had closed his, but his brow remained furiously knitted.  His mouth on Jake's was angry and possessive, and when Jake refused to respond, Torry released his wrists in favor of the back of his head.  His fingers clenched, dragging Jake even closer, bruising Jake's lips against his own teeth, and finally Jake erupted back to life.  He grabbed Torry's shoulders, trying to pry him away again, and struggled to twist his head out of the hair-ripping grip Torry had on it.

Torry arched off of his mouth, breath heaving in and out.  "Fine," he muttered, "you don't wanna kiss.  Then..."  His arms snapped downward, catching and collapsing Jake's arms at the elbows and efficiently breaking the grip on his shoulders.  With a full-body rolling motion that put Jake in mind of a mongoose ducking and closing on a cobra, Torry peeled away and then grabbed him bodily again.  Jake resisted, setting his weight heavily, but Torry seemed possessed with superhuman strength.  He wrestled Jake face-first against the wall and pressed him there with his body.  His hands slid down between Jake's hips and the wall and yanked open his fly.

Jake closed his eyes.  Suddenly, he was exhausted.  Weary down into his very bones.  Torry's hands clenched in the fabric of his shirt, pulling it untucked before shoving Jake's trousers to pool around his ankles.  Every motion was crisp, but desperate carnal energy rolled off of the man.  The scent pooled in Jake's nostrils.  Desperation and manic energy, and he could see himself back in that foxhole, his own hands fumbling at another man's uniform, fingers cold and numb and clumsy.  Both of them gasping, nearly mindless with need.  The need to blow up, somehow, to detonate and let scatter to the wind the horror, the terror, the near-constant paranoid vigilance.

War was hell to come down from.  He'd seen good men driven insane by what they'd seen, what they'd been forced to do to save their own lives and the lives of their brothers in arms.  But he could only begin to guess at what demons plagued the passages of Torry's mind.  What memories must have surfaced and driven him here, to Jake, with the same explosive desperation Jake had experienced in a dark, cold, rainy hole in the ground not so long ago.

"Okay," he murmured, splaying his fingers and closing them around the ones that now pinned his hands.  At some point, Torry's trousers had come off, too, and his cock rested heavy and hot against Jake's backside.  "Okay, Torry.  It's okay.  Just...take it easy, pal.  It's going to be okay."

There was a grunt, nearly a whine, in response - affirmation, negation, neither, both, Jake couldn't tell, but it tore at him.  The sound of a man trapped, forced into an action of the last resort.  For a second, his head came to rest against Jake's shoulder, the two of them pressed together in a bastardized parody of a sleeping lovers' embrace.  Then the pressure lifted, and centered in at Jake's backside.  Torry's right hand spasmed against his, then let go and grabbed his hip, fingers digging into the taut muscle of his lower abdomen.  The head of his cock pressed against Jake's opening, and Jake pressed back a little, forcing a modification to their position that would be slightly more favorable to his remaining intact by the end of the affair.

When the head of Torry's cock at last breached him, Jake grit his teeth and bit back the grunt of pain boiling up from his throat.  In all likelihood, Torry wasn't actually as big as he felt right now - the handle of a damn baseball bat might be more pleasant at the moment - but it had been a little while since Jake had played receiver.  He sucked in his breath on a hiss, barely hearing Torry's groan as he slid all the way in.  Torry's other hand dropped to Jake's hip, mirroring the first hand right down to the bruising pressure of his fingertips.

For a moment, Torry stilled.  Jake struggled to adjust to the massive intrusion, blinking back the cold sweat trickling down his forehead.  His breath still hissed between his teeth, and the hands that had been pressed flat to the wall only minutes before were now clenched against it in white-knuckled fists.  He drew a deep, shuddering breath and forced himself to relax, his fingers to uncurl, his passageway to ease open around Torry's girth.

Then, with a gutteral growl, Torry took off like a horse at the races.  His hips bucked powerfully, driving him in and out with strong, swift strokes.  Jake grunted, every thrust forcing the air noisily out of him.  On the fourth thrust, Torry's cock changed angles just ever so slightly, and Jake gasped as a bolt of lightning crackled all the way up his spine and straight down into his half-flaccid cock.

"God," he choked out, and thrust back to meet the next stroke.  Torry moaned and pistoned faster, harder, hitting that spot over and over again.  Just when Jake thought he might actually sob, broken from such exquisite torment, Torry thrust once more and seized.  Jake's shirted back went cold as Torry's chest arched away from him, carrying away his feverish body heat.  His breath rasped harshly into the hot air crackling between them.

Torry's hands slapped against the wall to either side of him.  He remained there for a long minute, and Jake listened to his breathing slowly coming down.  Then, with a final shuddering sigh, he pulled out and pushed himself upright.

Jake collapsed against the wall.  His erection was still so hard that it ached, and while his brain kept his mouth firmly shut, his body was yammering for Torry's return and the return of that hot, wet, jolting pressure inside of him.  Instead of saying something he would later regret, Jake pulled the handkerchief from his shirt pocket, shook it out, and passed it blindly and mutely backwards.

"Oh.  Uh, thanks."  It was pulled from his fingers, and Jake let his hand drop before pressing it back to the wall and levering himself upright.  He reached down and pulled his trousers back up, firmly imprisoning his hardness back behind the layer of cotton.  He tucked his shirttail in and carefully buttoned himself back up before turning to face a respectably-cleaned-up-and-dressed Torry.

"Did that give you what you needed?"  Jake asked quietly, tiredly.  He met Torry's eyes once more and noted that the dark fires had guttered out, leaving the green gaze as still and mysterious as deep waters.  Lest he allow himself to be sidetracked by those eyes again, Jake crossed his arms over his chest and waited.

The other man's eyes met Jake's and then bounced away under the solemnity of the look, his previously predatory gaze now darting nervously around the room.  His hands nearly twisted at the soiled hanky before recalling themselves, but he couldn't seem to stop his throat working to swallow down spit that clearly wasn't there.  Finally, he settled with a quick, jerky nod, and thrust the hanky back toward Jake.

"I don't want it." Jake took a step forward.  "It's yours now."

Torry skittered backwards toward the door, and wasn't that something, to finally have his estimable power of authority back.  Just as Torry's hand closed on the doorknob, ready for the man to make his escape, Jake called his name.

This time it was Torry's turn to stand mute and wide-eyed while Jake bore down on him, eyes blazing.  "Just so we're clear, I thought I'd let you know how damn lucky you are that it was me.  Because, God help me, Torry, if you try this shit on anyone else..."  His hands slammed down onto the door on either side of Torry's head, making the man flinch and jump a little.  "I will kill you with my bare hands."  He spun around and stalked away, not looking back.  "Now get the fuck out."

When the door clicked shut only a breath later, he lowered his face into his hands and let the tears fall.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Critical Downer

I was talking to family the other day about my emotional patterns when it comes to my writing, and I ended up describing writing as "a bipolar love affair."  I think this type of pattern is true for a lot of other writers.  There are days when the writing just flows, when the words sing on paper, when people gush about what you've put out there  Then there are the days when it's like trying to suck Jell-O through a straw and/or it feels like everyone has something negative to say about your word babies, and writing doesn't feel fun or worthwhile anymore.

This week I was mostly on a writer's high.  Great reviews, enthusiastic encouragement, (quality) projects getting knocked out in record time.  Felt good.  Then Saturday happened, and popped my euphoric rainbow joy bubble (oops, gotta watch that purple prose...).

Back in July I entered the second draft of my first completed manuscript, Key Change, into the Indiana Romance Writers of America's Golden Opportunity contest.  This contest is modeled after the RWA's Golden Heart contest, which is kind of a big deal in the romance world, and many authors who have been finalists in the IGO have gone on to be finalists or winners of the Golden Heart.  I didn't expect to be a finalist this year (and wasn't, though I ranked a respectable 16 out of 26 - not bad for a first-timer), but every piece is judged by two published authors and they give feedback to every entrant, which is what I was really looking forward to.  Critiques from people in the field who have actually gone through the whole process!

The problem with critiques, at least for me, is that if there isn't anything nice said, it ends up feeling like a (really personal) beating.  The comments left by both judges on my ms were, of course, both well-intentioned and impersonally made, but they didn't sting any less, and at times they were even a little contradictory - one judge thought things should be one way, the other judge thought otherwise.  The more enjoyable part was reading my score sheets.  One judge gave me 214/250 points and would have rated it a 7.5/9 in the Golden Heart; the other gave me 179/250 points, beat me over the head with her judgment that I had entered the wrong category (which is why she kept scoring me so low; she thought it should have gone in as a YA entry instead of a single title romance), rated it an ultimate 6/9 and then said if it had been in the YA category, she'd have given me an 8/9.

Great.  Let me enter again in the "right" category and get a more accurate (and helpful) scoring, can I?

To be fair, once I started the rewrite back in June, I did consider reclassifying it as a YA novel - I'd just not write the graphic bits back in from the first draft - because the characters are relatively young, it deals with events during the end of high school, and so forth.  I started thinking it would probably be easier to find a YA audience for it than an adult audience.  So on the positive side, at least someone else also saw the same potential there.

The bummer part was that after all this, I was walking around in a total depressive stupor, feeling like I probably just had the touch of death with everything I'd ever written, that it all sucked, and that I needed to give up (none of which - I think, anyway - is actually true). 

So what does this adult writer do when she's feeling down about her talent and skill and needs a pick-me-up?

I called my mommy.  :)  Because there's nothing like talking to your biggest fan to make you feel better about yourself again.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Productivity!

I'm just so proud of myself right now that I could pop.  Or, you know, write (another!) blog entry.  Because I just did something I haven't done in...ever?

I finished a short story.  (Okay, yeah, that's been done.)

The next day, I wrote a complete chapter from start to finish.  (Back to back completed projects?  And a chapter in 6 hours?  Never.)

This is monumental.  I think this marks a new level of self-confidence, and hopefully a turning point for my writing.  I now know that I can be ridiculously productive if I just make myself sit down and do it.  I mean, I knew that before, but now I know it.  Because I've done it.  And I can do it again.

New goal: Chapter 3 by bedtime on Sunday.  Because, hey, chapter 2 is D-O-N-E done.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Exhausted and Slightly Egotistical Ramblings Because...Bed?

Oh man, you guys.

It's tough to be in my head sometimes.

Okay, no, it's really great to be in my head, actually.  It's trying to transcribe the images and ideas and thoughts from my head onto paper (or into pixels) that's tough.  And it's tough to wrangle multiple stories at a time - I'm so not good with the authorial multitasking.  Bad enough that I have three projects currently sitting around waiting patiently for me to get back to them...and then I go take a break by writing a "quick" short story (to be fair, 4 days from start to finish is pretty speedy for me these days...), and hello new novel idea.  Ugh.

It also doesn't help that I get all, "Ooh, shiny!" over the new projects, either.  Means I get a chapter into 'em, throw that single chapter to the wolves (or crickets, as the case usually is), and promptly lose interest.  The only reason "The Anniversary" got written was a combination of external factors followed by a very solid self-inflicted kick to the pants.  It started when I woke up Monday morning to a couple of delicious 5-star reviews for the first chapter of The Greatest of These (GOAL: Chapter 2 done by bedtime on Sunday - keep me honest!), which reinfected me with the writing bug, and a Friday flash fiction challenge over at the endlessly entertaining blog of Chuck Wendig.  Now, I do not write flash fiction, because I have too many words (thanks, Mom) and not enough discipline, but I liked the prompt and figured I could bang something together (you know...figuratively speaking).

For anyone who's curious, "The Anniversary" was born of the aspects erotica (duh)/graveyard/ticking clock.

And like any good writing project, it kept me thinking about other ways to rearrange the characters, mess with the situation, elongate the plot, and between the story and a couple of specific selections by Jimmy Eat World...I now have yet another new project brewing up in the personal think tank.  D'oh!

Okay, but seriously.  Chapter 2.  The Greatest of These.  Because after I finally make myself go to bed and then get back up again, I'll have nothing else to do for the rest of the day except procrasti-- I mean, write.  And the TED Talks I watched earlier completely played into my plot, which was very exciting.  Hurray for researtainment!  It's like writing doesn't have to hurt.

Well...not me, anyway.  ;P

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Anniversary, Part 1

It's after nine-thirty before I'm finally able to make a break for it.  The second the club president finishes thanking the students for coming and us for agreeing to be panelists, I grab my coat off the back of my chair, wave a hasty apology to Leo, who's already been hopelessly walled in by the verbal brickwork of Spencer Markham's latest theories, and book it out of the lecture hall.  On any other night, I would have happily hung around and allowed myself to be accosted by enthusiastic undergrads as well, but not tonight.  I'm running out of time as it is.

Frigid air swirls around me as I push through the glass doors out to the sidewalk - if the weather keeps up like this, there'll be junior snowboarders and mountain climbers instead of zombies and vampires traipsing door to door through my neighborhood this weekend.  Hunching down into the collar of my comfortingly-cliché tweed overcoat and shoving my gloveless hands into my pockets, I hurry down the sidewalk and into the faculty parking lot.  Thank God for remote start; the engine of my little burgundy Toyota hybrid is humming almost silently into the iceberg night, and I throw myself in after my messenger bag and slam the door shut, sealing in the delicious hint of heat to come.

The drive out there is spurred by a frantic edge I can't quite soften, no matter what I tell myself.  It's so late already, and on top of it, today was so booked up that there wasn't any time to pick up flowers.  He's probably not going to care either way.  To him, flowers or no flowers is all the same, and it just matters that I'm there at all.  Right now, that doesn't make me feel better.

Gleaming ahead of me out of the dark, the gate.  Oh, damn, damn, double damn.  I slam my open palm against the steering wheel.  How the hell did I forget that the cemetery closes at dusk?  And now how am I supposed to get in?  Because I have to get in there.  It isn't like I can just come back tomorrow and apologize to him and expect it to be the same, because it fucking won't be.  Goddammit!  My hand hits the steering wheel once more, in lieu of my forehead, because I'd like to still be able to try to think my way through this.

And when I take a deep breath and I do, I realize that there's really only one option.  And in my desperation, bad idea or not, I know I'm gonna do it.

I park the car in a dark corner of the convenience store lot across the street and then cross back to the forbidding black fence.  It's very Victorian, wrought iron bars with spikes on top, like somebody jammed a line of fancy spears into the ground point-up and lashed them together.  Through the gaps I can make out pale headstones and a marble angel among the well-behaved shadows of landscaping.  And beyond that, I can feel him waiting for me.  My stomach lurches in anticipation, and with a final sweep of my surroundings, I reach up and grab hold of two of the spears, jam my toes into a gap above the lowest cross bracing, and hoist myself up.

I'd always liked to imagine that when push came to shove, I could be as strong and lithe as Indiana Jones, but let's be honest: When a workaholic academician who's within spitting distance of the big four-oh tries to break into a graveyard by climbing a spiky-topped fence, there's not going to be anything graceful about it.  Flat on my back on the other side, I pause to catch the wind that had gotten knocked out of me and to thank the lucky stars twinkling high above that I've managed to get neither broken nor eviscerated.  Getting back out is going to be a bitch that I don't let myself think about just now, because I have to focus all my effort on rolling to my feet and making my way to the path.  While I could probably find my way to him even now, in the dark, without following the sidewalk, that feeling of not having any time to waste is still worrying at the nape of my neck, and I just want to be there already.

 Past a line of neatly manicured hedges, around the corner of a mausoleum straight out of A Christmas Carol, three rows beyond it and five markers to the left, almost the furthest corner in the graveyard.  He's fairly isolated out here, lying all the way to the left in a plot that doesn't yet contain either of his parents.  The plot hadn't even been purchased until his death; Ken and Norma hadn't been quite old enough to think about making those arrangements for themselves, and, like any parents of healthy and successful children, had assumed their son would live long enough to make his own.  Hopefully with a wife, if they could convince themselves that I was just a phase.  And then they'd been broadsided with the reality of having to think about a family plot instead of a couples plot, and there you have it. 

It's been thirteen years, but the devastating pain of being separated in death has only dulled to a deep ache in my chest.  They hadn't meant it that way, of course, but how could I have convinced them back then of the importance of our relationship, of the strength of our bonds?  We were young; I would find somebody else to grow old with, to be buried beside, and there would be no room for Jared anyway.

Part 2