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Teaser Thursday- Stepping Stone Not Doormat

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“It is what it is.” Navon didn’t know whether to sit or stay on his feet. The one thing he could be certain of was that Solara wouldn’t allow him to stay much longer. The guy hadn’t wanted him there in the first place. “Charlie?”

“Solara,” the other man snapped.

At least there’s some emotion there now. “Sorry,” Navon said. “Solara.”

“I go by Solara Flare. My stage name and the name I prefer. And female pronouns.” Solara sighed. “Not that it matters, because once you walk out this door, you won’t be seeing me again.”

“Why female pronouns?” Navon asked the question before he could stop himself. It wasn’t any of his business how Solara chose to refer to him—herself. He didn’t need to know the reasons because Solara was probably right. They wouldn’t see each other again.

That hurt like hell. Navon didn’t know what he’d expected from this visit, but he’d hoped his former lover would at least be happy to see him. He’d believed that maybe after so long apart, Charlie would want to spend a little time with Navon before Navon returned to Los Angeles. Obviously he’d underestimated the impact of the past on Solara.

To Navon’s surprise, Solara answered. “I’ve always asked for female pronouns when I’m in drag. I use my drag name as a daily thing, so I carried the pronoun thing over as well. And it’s another layer of protection. A female named Solara didn’t seem as likely to be on certain people’s radar.”

Mason’s radar. Navon had no doubt that was what Solara meant. Mason had always been pissed off if anyone referred to Charlie by his drag name or used female pronouns or even terms like “girl” or “bitch.” The jackass had been adamant that the “woman shit” remain only onstage or during other appearances and not cross into Charlie’s regular life at all.

Navon had to wonder if Solara had chosen deliberately to go against that order, not only to hide from Mason but because she knew it would have infuriated him if he’d ever found out.

“If you’re going to give me what you brought, better do it now,” Solara said. “Nice to see you, nice to fuck you. Now get out. Please.”

The raw pain in that single word pushed Navon into action. He knelt beside his backpack. “I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

“It is what it is,” Solara said with a slight note of sarcasm. “Just like I always say. You asked why I never told anyone? I tried. That last time in the hospital. They laughed at me. Said he was so much smaller that I should have been able to ‘take him’ in a fight. A gay man hammers the shit out of another gay man, and no one cares. Especially if the one doing the hammering is smaller. I knew that. I wouldn’t have said a damn thing if they hadn’t recognized the injuries as an assault and told me to report who did it.”

Navon pressed his lips together and focused on opening the backpack. It was bad enough he’d wanted to kill Mason when he’d found out about the beating. Now he had a whole list of others to hate. Everyone who had let Solara down.

Himself included.

Teaser Thursday- Last Chance Tattoo

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Dorsey still hadn’t gotten Rad’s number, and he wanted to kick himself for it. The last time he’d heard anything from Rad was Friday when they’d gone their separate ways after lunch. Now, on Sunday afternoon, Dorsey was faced with a day off and no one to spend it with.

It was no different from all the other days off he’d had, but at the same time, everything was different. He had a friend now. Or something more. Whatever he and Rad were to each other, the one thing Dorsey knew for certain was he hoped for more time with Rad.

And he hadn’t asked for Rad’s number, which meant he had no way to invite Rad to get together. The tattoo shop wasn’t open on Sundays, so if Rad went there to find Dorsey, he would be disappointed.

Then again, Dorsey was only assuming Rad wanted to see him again. They had parted on Friday with an agreement to continue seeing each other, whatever that meant. Unfortunately, with no way to contact each other aside from Rad going to the shop, chances didn’t look good.

By midmorning, Dorsey’s thoughts had spiraled into a dark mass of things he didn’t want to deal with. Part of him still felt as if he’d been disloyal to Chester by messing around with Rad. Part of him wanted to go further with Rad. He’d even gone to one of the department stores outside the city limits the day before to stock up on condoms and lube so next time Rad visited, they would be prepared.

If that ever happened.

He couldn’t stand any more time alone in his apartment, so he dressed in the same clothes he’d worn the day before—the only clothes he had that were clean enough to wear until he went to the Laundromat—and headed to the coffee shop.

As he walked, it occurred to him that Kelly knew exactly how to get in touch with Rad. After all, he’d put his contact information on the application. If Dorsey could figure out how to ask for it without sounding like a creep, he might be able to talk to Rad. That alone made the walk through a light, cold drizzle worth it.

At that time on a Sunday morning, the coffee shop wasn’t very busy, since most people were at church or sleeping in. Dorsey went straight to the counter, where Kelly was arranging a tray of muffins.

She smiled at him. “Long time no see.”

“Sure.” He hesitated. “The usual coffee, please.”

“Why do I have the feeling that isn’t what you were going to say?” She set two more muffins on the tray and slid it into the display case, then turned to get Dorsey’s coffee.

Dorsey looked out the window. Because of the weather, few people were out and about. April wasn’t being particularly springlike so far.

He wondered what Rad was doing. Going to church with his grandmother, possibly, though Rad didn’t strike Dorsey as the church-going type. More likely either job hunting or spending the day out of the rain.

“Here you go.” Kelly set a cup on the counter. “On the house this morning because you look like you need it.”

“Thanks.” Again Dorsey hesitated. “You have Rad’s number, right?”

“Yeah. I kind of have to if I’m going to hire him.” She looked confused. “You don’t have his number?”

“No. You’re going to hire him?” That would be great news for Rad. And for Dorsey, since he would be able to see Rad simply by going around the corner.

Wow, you really have gone too long without a friend. And without sex. Get over it.

“I am, but don’t tell him.” Kelly grinned. “I’d pretty much already decided to, even before I interviewed him. But half the town knows I used to date his brother, so I can’t let it seem like I’m playing favorites.”

“Yeah. I understand.” Dorsey wondered whether Kelly knew what her brother had done to Rad and decided it would be better not to ask. It wasn’t his place to talk about it.

He drank some of his coffee and glanced out the window again. Rad was walking down the sidewalk on the other side of the street, heading toward the lake.

Without thinking, Dorsey hurried out of the shop. Rad had already passed. Behind him, Kelly called a question, but he didn’t pay attention. He crossed the fortunately empty street. “Rad!”

Rad jumped and whirled around, then relaxed. “Hey.”

Dorsey closed the few yards between them. The drizzle was turning into full-on rain, but he didn’t care. If Rad could stand it, so could he. “Hey. How’s it going?”

Rad shrugged. “Been better, been worse. I was going down to the lighthouse, except I’m not sure walking out there is a good idea in the rain.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” The lighthouse stood at the end of a half-mile or so causeway accessible only by foot. In three years, Dorsey had never taken the walk. The lighthouse was nice to look at from the shore. He saw no reason to go all the way out to it.

“Probably not.” Rad sighed. “When I was a kid, I used to go out there all the time. Even in the summer, it was a quiet place. I could think. Not to mention get away from my brothers and everyone. Even though I wasn’t far away, I could pretend I was alone in the middle of the lake. I liked it.”

Dorsey’s heart went out to the guy. From everything Rad had told him, his childhood had been pretty damn lonely. No one should have to be alone, especially with family around, but it sounded as if Rad truly had been.

That was one of the things Dorsey wanted to make better. Both of them had been alone too long.

Teaser Thursday- Visual Impact

This is from an unpublished short story that I hope to offer as a free download later this year.

Drag club

Palms sweating, Coby held one hand over the doorknob he didn’t quite dare to touch. He swallowed, hoping to bring some moisture to his dry mouth. He was home, but not as triumphantly as he’d hoped. Not wearing the crown of the TV drag queen competition show for which he’d left Boston two months earlier. Instead, he was returning as a loser.

At least he wasn’t a complete failure. He’d reached the top five. But somehow that it worse than if he’d been sent home sooner.

He took a deep breath. He couldn’t just stand in the hall all day. Sooner or later, he had to enter the apartment. Then he would be in his husband’s arms again. In the one place on earth where he was completely loved.

Slowly, he opened the door and forced a smile onto his face. “Hey, honey, I’m home.”

“Coby!” Garrick hurried out of the bedroom, a confused smile on his ruddy oval face.

Coby didn’t even have a chance to drop his bags before Garrick lifted him into a bone-crunching hug.

Garrick gave Coby a searing kiss, and Coby’s grip on the bags loosened. This was why he’d come home. Garrick’s strong arms around him. Their shared hunger.

Their love.

Almost instantly, his cock grew hard. Heat rose through him, and he hitched in a breath. For two frigging months, he hadn’t been able to touch anyone. The lack of physical contact had been sheer torture, but he’d promised Garrick he wouldn’t fool around. And Coby always kept his promise.

Now he and Garrick could make up for lost time.

Garrick flicked Coby’s lips with his tongue then broke the kiss. “You are so fucking beautiful. Why didn’t you tell me you were on the way? I would have picked you up at the airport.”

“No phone calls allowed from the competition,” Coby said. “Not even when they send us home. And it was just as easy to call a cab from the airport as it would have been to call you.” Besides, I didn’t want to disappoint you over the phone. Better to do it face to face.

Garrick gently set Coby on the floor and touched Coby’s eyelids. “You’re wearing makeup.”

“I’m a princess, baby.” Coby sing-songed the words, aiming for his usual cocky confidence. It was one of the things Garrick said he loved about him, and if Coby faked being confident long enough, he would feel it. “I figured I should look the part.”

Garrick folded his arms. “That wasn’t exactly safe, was it?”

“Wearing makeup?” Coby tensed, and his hard-on deflated. He’d just come home. Surely Garrick wouldn’t start another argument about hiding and staying “safe” in public. “I was on a plane and in a cab. No one hassled me.”

“Sorry. I just worry.” Garrick wrinkled his forehead. “So they sent you home? I thought you’d be out there for another week or so. Can you tell me anything?”

“The show doesn’t air for another few months, so I can’t say much, but yeah.” Coby sighed. “I was eliminated. Made it to the top five, though. They gave me the choice of sticking around or coming back here for a few days. I have to go back at the end of the week to tape the finale, but I wanted to see you.”

His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat. No one knew how badly he’d missed Garrick, and he refused to break down now.

Teaser Thursday- Stepping Stone Not Doormat

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Chastity’s face went white, and she shook her head.

Oh, shit. Solara braced herself. Robin had caught Chastity stealing. That much was obvious from the way Robin had acted, and judging from Chastity’s pale expression and wide eyes, she was guilty as hell. The last thing they needed was another fuckup in the group. Over the past year, Solara and Mitch had become the only queens who stuck around. The rest of the lineup kept changing because of conflicts or personal life issues. Or most recently, because the previous new queen, Rainbow, had almost caused Mitch to break his ankle during a performance.

If Chastity really had stolen from Robin, there wasn’t any chance they could keep her on. The queens had to act as a team to keep the performances on track and the audience coming back, and if they couldn’t trust someone, she wouldn’t be welcome to stay.

Even though this would be one hell of a problem to sort out, Solara was almost relieved. Having to repair the fracture among the queens and probably reblock the group numbers to cover for Chastity’s absence would keep her mind occupied.

“Shit’s been going missing for a couple weeks now,” Robin said. “And now I know where it’s gone.”

Solara let go of her. “Speak. Use your words, sweetheart, because if you try using your fists again, I’m sending you home before Rocco has a chance to fire you.”

Robin stepped backward to stand beside Solara. “I’m missing makeup. Shoes. And now that scarf.” She pointed at Chastity. “It’s the first time I’ve seen that fucking bitch with any of it, but if she’s got the scarf, she probably has the rest.”

“We don’t tolerate stealing.” Solara held out her hand, and Mitch gave her the scarf. “Chastity?”

“I’m sorry.” Chastity folded her arms. To her credit, she looked Solara in the eye. “It’s cute. I wanted to borrow it.”

Solara shook her head at Robin, warning the smaller queen to keep her mouth shut. “Borrowing means asking. You don’t take anything from another girl, not even a smidge of lipstick, without permission. Where’s the rest of Robin’s stuff?”

“Some here, some at my place,” Chastity mumbled.

“Give her what you have here, then get your ass home and bring back the rest.” Solara put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes. This dumbass young bitch was about to ruin their entire show. Solara was damned if she would let that happen. “You’re out. Don’t pass go; don’t collect a fucking thing. Just give Robin’s stuff back to her, and if you took anything from the rest of us, give that back too. And then pack your bags.”

Chastity opened and closed her mouth a few times, but not even a tiny sound came out. No surprise there. She was faced with five pissed-off queens, and she didn’t have a chance in hell of saying anything that would change her fate.

“Finish getting ready.” Solara turned her back on the former group member and clapped her hands. “We have one hour before showtime, and we have to redo the group numbers to accommodate five instead of six. Get moving.”

New Book Trailer

I wanted to share the trailer for my male/male novella Stepping Stone Not Doormat because in addition to just liking the trailer, it marks my musical debut, so to speak. I composed and played the bass line in the song used in this trailer, and I also did the sound engineering. And I’m probably way too proud of that. LOL