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Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

shadow in pink

They walked back to her car and got in. Niko slid the passenger seat backward and reclined the back of the seat, and Elena moved her seat back slightly.

Niko pushed his hood off his head and rested against the seat back, eyes closed. “Comfortable,” he murmured.

“So you’re going to take a nap?” Elena teased.

“Not with you sitting here. That would defeat the purpose.” He opened his eyes and stared into hers. “What is the purpose? Why did you agree to meet me tonight?”

“I wanted to see you,” she said softly. “Our kiss Friday. I didn’t feel wrong about it then, and I don’t now. The only ‘wrong’ thing about it was that it made me dishonest to Corin and what I have with him.”

“Until you told him about it.” He took her hand and turned it palm up, then slipped his own hand over it. “That made it honest.”

“Right.” She relaxed under his touch.

“So there wasn’t anything wrong about it.” With his other hand, he brushed her face. ”You told me he said he didn’t have a problem with it.”

“He did.” She took a shuddering breath. “You’re making it really hard to have a conversation.”

“I am?” He raised an eyebrow. “Funny, I know human touch is powerful. I didn’t realize it had the power to take away speech.”

“You know what I mean.” She turned to face him. “You asked why I came here tonight. Why did you?”

“I wanted to see you.” With one finger, he traced her lips. “You told me your man would have no problem if you and I got something going. Or maybe I should say resumed what we used to have. You wouldn’t have told me if the idea didn’t appeal to you. I’d like to see just how much appeal it has.”

“So this is an experiment?” she muttered. “See how far you can persuade me to go?”

“See how far you’re willing to go.” He leaned closer to her, his face now mere inches from hers. In less than a second, he would be able to kiss her if he wanted. If she allowed it. He had to give her the choice, but having her so near, knowing she would no longer hide behind her fear of cheating on her man, made holding back even more difficult than before. “You have permission to explore what you want. Will you take the chance, or are you going to keep trying to play it safe?”

“It isn’t possible to play it safe with you.” She ran her hand up his arm. “This should be peaceful, like at your apartment. It isn’t. Far from it.”

“Possibilities.” Niko kissed her forehead. “Whatever happens here tonight won’t change my opinion of you, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“It might change mine,” she said softly.

“You’re here. I’m here.” He rested his hand on her thigh, and she shivered again. “Relax,” he whispered. “If you can’t make up your mind, let me make it up for you. For once, stop trying so hard to be in control, and see what happens if you let go.”

He watched her, seeing in her expression her struggle to decide what to do. What happened next might change everything between them. From their previous relationship, they’d formed a friendship, but Niko couldn’t leave it at that any longer. His feelings for her were too strong to accept mere friendship.

He didn’t know if even mere friendship would survive between them if either of them developed any doubts. Or if Elena’s man changed his mind.

But he couldn’t predict the future. All he knew was here and now, sitting in Elena’s car with her, hearing the rain as it hit the car, watching Elena’s uncertainty give way to determination.

“Okay,” she said softly.

Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

On the subject of communication in polyamorous relationships.

As she puttered, making Niko’s cup of coffee, she kept an ear on the conversation in the living room. For the first few minutes, it consisted of more strained chatter. Finally, just as she poured boiling water into her cup, Niko said, “Elena said you wanted to meet the man you’re sharing her with.”

Corin coughed. “I guess that’s one way to put it. I just want to make sure no one, Elena especially, ends up hurt in this.”

“Most people would care more about whether they themselves end up hurt,” Niko said.

“Elena’s very important to me,” Corin replied firmly. “If it came to a choice between me being hurt or her, I’d choose myself.”

“I admire that,” Niko said. “I question it, but then again, I don’t know you well enough to say if you’d stick to it.”

“I already have. I told her it would be okay if she saw you.”

Elena flinched. She hadn’t expected Corin to state so bluntly how he felt about her relationship with Niko. Especially not to Niko himself. More than ever, she wished she’d never kissed Niko, that she’d never put herself or the men into this situation.

But wishing did no good. She couldn’t change the past.

She stirred the coffee and carried the cup to Niko with a forced smile. “Caffeine.”

“Thanks.” Niko took a sip of it then set the cup in front of him on the coffee table. Looking at Corin, he said, “I told Elena I wouldn’t do anything to come between her and you. I guess like you, I’ll do whatever I can to make sure she isn’t hurt.”

Tears pricked Elena’s eyes, and she blinked rapidly to keep them back. “Just stop. No one wants to see anyone hurt. Right now, I like I’ve screwed up both your lives, and I hate it.” She swallowed the lump in her throat.

“You haven’t.” Corin reached for her hand. “Honey, that isn’t what I meant at all.”

“Me either,” Niko said firmly. “You should know me better than that. If something screwed up my life, it wouldn’t be part of my life anymore.”

“I know.” Elena sank onto the loveseat beside Corin. “So tell me what you meant. This is what I was afraid of. You both sound pissed, and I’m not sure this is going to work.”

“We’ll make it work,” Niko said roughly. “If it’s what you want, we’ll make it work.”

“What about what you guys want?”

Corin ran his hand through his hair. “I want to know you aren’t leaving me. I want to know that every night, you’ll be sleeping in our bed, even if you’ve been with Niko.”

“Which works for me, because I have nowhere for her to sleep,” Niko said. “Having a roommate isn’t always conducive to having sleepover guests.”

Corin nodded. “Okay. That takes care of one of my concerns.”

“I’m not leaving you.” Elena rested her hand on Corin’s knee. “I told you that. I don’t want Niko instead of you. I don’t know what the hell I’m thinking. I always thought I was a one-man woman. But I want both of you.”

“All I want is for you to be happy and comfortable with what’s going on,” Niko said quietly. “If you’re not, we end my part in it. It’s that simple.”

After what he’d told her the other night, she doubted it would be that simple for him. But if he had to let her go, he would never express any qualms. That wasn’t Niko.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You’re welcome.”

Elena turned to Corin, who gave her a reassuring smile. “You and I discussed things before you started with Niko,” he said. “Maybe we should have involved Niko in the discussion.”

“What is there to discuss?” Niko asked. “We both want her, and she wants both of us. She lives with you. She’s home every night. She visits me when she can and when I have a place for us to be together. That won’t be often, unfortunately, since I think for most of the winter her car won’t be the best location, and she told me you’d rather she not bring me here.”

“Her car?” Corin snarled.

“Not the other night,” Elena said quickly. “His roommate went out. And the time in my car, it was warm out.” To her own ears, it sounded like a lame explanation.

Niko nodded. “As I said, having a roommate isn’t conducive to having company. And Elena’s worth far more than fumbling in a car like a couple of teenagers. We had no other option that night. If this is going to be an ongoing thing, I’ll find a solution.”

“Her car,” Corin muttered.

“Let it go.” Elena grinned, hoping to lighten the mood. “Being in a car can be exciting sometimes.”

“Not when it’s twenty degrees out,” Niko said. “I’ll think of something better.” He studied Corin. “So why did you want me over here today?”

“To straighten out a few things,” Corin replied, an edge to his voice. “Elena told me you and she f—slept together the other night, and I took it harder than I expected. I agreed to it, and I don’t want to blame Elena for doing what I said I wouldn’t have a problem with her doing.”

Anger sparked in Niko’s eyes. “Is that why you didn’t call me yesterday, Elena?”

She hesitated. The guys had almost been getting along. She didn’t want another conflict to start. “Corin and I needed to sort things out, and we did. That’s why I asked you to come over.”

“To make this work, we have to be on the same page,” Corin said. “And it isn’t fair to Elena to have to be our go-between. I can see you’re pissed at me. Not my problem. My problem was that I got pissed off when I shouldn’t have. Elena and I worked that out. It was between her and me.”

Niko glared and said nothing.

“It’s okay,” Elena assured him. “We did work it out.”

“Good.” Niko folded his arms. “All right, any other agreements we need to make? Maybe we should set a schedule of when Elena’s allowed to see me?” His voice dripped with sarcasm.

Corin bristled. “You know, when I asked Elena to move in with me, I expected to spend the rest of my life with her. I didn’t expect to share her with another guy. You can be as pissy as you want. I’m doing this for her, and it would help if we were all on the same page about it. Speaking of which, did you use a condom, at least?”

Niko opened his mouth. To fend off another snarky comment, Elena spoke quickly, cringing inside at the fear of what Corin might say. “No. We talked about it. We both know we test negative for everything, and I can’t get pregnant, so we decided we didn’t need one.”

Corin’s face clouded. “I don’t think I like you letting him come inside you.”

Elena’s chest tightened. She should have talked to Corin about sexual health before going condom-free with Niko. She hadn’t even thought of it.

“I didn’t,” Niko said. “I came on her belly. I don’t need to come inside her and mark my territory. I just didn’t want anything between us.”

“If anything happens because of this—” Corin said.

“Stop,” Elena stood. “You guys are not going to fight about me. Or if you are, I’m not going to listen to it. I’ll be in the other room. Let me know when the fists are done flying.”

“We aren’t fighting,” Niko said.

“You’d better not be. I still need to leave the room. Be right back.” She hurried to the bathroom and shut herself in.

Special Guest Clare Dargin

Today I’m hosting author Clare Dargin, whose erotic menage romance Merry “Chris”mas will release from Siren Publishing on Christmas Eve. Click the link to pre-order. Welcome!

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PRE-ORDER!

AVAILABLE: Wednesday, December 24th

This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, December 31st

[Ménage Amour: Erotic Ménage a Trois Romance, M/F/M, HEA]

Jilly Reimers wants love but can’t find it. Chris Spinell is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who suffers from PTSD and a haunting feeling that something is missing in his life. Chris Poole is also an Afghanistan war veteran is ready to break out of his shell but is unsure how.

With Christmas just around the corner, they decide not to spend it alone. Believing The Love Play Matchmaking Service to be just what they need for a night of fun and passion, they sign up. But when the guys show up and see that they’ve been set up on a menage, the only one happy about it is Jilly.

Their consultant, called an Eros, assures Jilly that the service has a perfect track record but she’s certain they’ll be the first ones to get their money back. Will they have a very merry Christmas? Or will the three spend yet another one alone?

A Siren Erotic Romance

 

Excerpt

Jilly idly twirled a lock of her hair as she gazed at the fire. The meal was good, a bit awkward, but all right. Now with Chris S. in the shower, she and Chris P., who’d freshened up after her, sat beside her. She hoped she’d get a chance to know him a little better, now that they were alone.

Unlike Chris S., Chris P. was quiet, more reserved. His warm smile could melt ice. They’d spoken a bit about his life in Australia and how he met the other Chris when they were on Diego Garcia, a tiny atoll in the Pacific. It was there he garnered a better perspective on life, friendships and love. She reasoned that war tended to do that to a person.

She looked at him again, admiring what she saw. He was gorgeous. If only she were a femme fatale like her friends. She pictured grabbing him by the scruff of his collar and planting a long seductive kiss on his pouty lips. Anything to ease the tension between her legs and the moisture dripping from her swollen pussy.

Golden and sun-kissed like a surfer, he had a look impossible to have around this time of year in Michigan, unless he spent countless hours in a tanning booth. But at the same time he didn’t look like the type who’d go to one. He seemed too rugged. She glanced at his short, flaxen hair, which he wore pulled back in a stubby tail. It accentuated his keen facial features. His physique, like that of a gladiator, made her want to whimper. Built like a brick wall without being too thick, he was three words—supple, etched, steel. And his Australian accent added to his raw sexiness.

Whereas Chris S. was the perfect picture type of the all-American, boy-next-door type, with light brown hair and sandy-colored tips and eyes so blue they looked like the color of tropical water. He reminded her of the high school captain of the football team who’d gone into the military and become a man, except he had a sensitive edge that permeated his being. While Chris P., who looked like he could take on a few guys at once, was more lighthearted and outgoing.

Either way, she knew she hit the jackpot because both guys were like something out of a magazine called Hot Guys “R” Us. They were a perfect ten. It was best Christmas gift anyone could have ever given her. She hoped a Chris Sandwich was definitely on the menu for the night. But how to get past the talking stage, she had no clue. She wondered if all of her Love Play’s match ups started like this.

Wearing some leggings and a cami, and he a T-shirt and shorts, she suddenly felt overdressed. The art of seduction was not something they taught in any of the schools she’d attended, and she sure as hell never picked up any pointers from her so-called “friends.” And her exes never gave her any encouragement in that department either.

This date should have come with instructions. I think I’m in trouble.

She let out a long sigh.

“Did you say something?” Chris P. asked, stirring from his long silence.

“I was just thinking how beautiful this place is,” she lied. What? How lame is that?

“It is. I’ve never been to a place quite like this.”

“Love Play has quite a reputation.”

“You’ve used it before?” He perked up, facing her.

Heat burned her cheeks. “No. It’s what I heard from some of their clients.”

“So have you been married?” he asked.

“No.”

“Neither have I. Never found anyone to get serious with,” he said, shrugging. “I don’t know. Maybe cupid’s arrow doesn’t work on me.”

“For me they’re defective. Or maybe his aim is bad,” she said, trying to suppress the memory of her ex-boyfriend.

“What do you mean?”

“My relationships, they never work out.” She shrugged her shoulders. “For whatever reason, they seem to choose my friends over me. Or it ends up that way once we get together.”

He shook his head. “Nah. They were bad blokes from the start. Believe me. I know. I’ve been around those types my entire life. The randier they are, the worse they will be. If a man wants you, he’ll stay.” His tone was soft, almost vulnerable.

“Maybe.”

“So tell me,” he said, turning to face her, “you ordered this hook up?”

Again, her face flushed. She imagined it turning its characteristic red when the blood rushed to her cheeks.

“Yes. But according to the guidelines, you would have either had to be open to it or requested it too. Right?”

He chuckled. “I see he also got the smart I asked for. Yes, I am open to a ménage.” His expression became serious. “Do you think me odd?”

“No. I’m glad we share that desire.”

Teaser Thursday- Christmas Consummation

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Rance held her hand as they walked inside but let go when they reached Ellery, who embraced Alanna and gave her a kiss that was only a bit too heated for public. He slid his hand over her ass as he let go. “Gorgeous,” he said.

“Careful.” Alanna looked around. “We wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.”

“Except it would be the right idea.” Ellery pulled one of the chairs out from the table and motioned to it. “Have a seat.”

Bemused, Alanna sat. Ellery stepped away and Rance pushed in Alanna’s chair.

“Two gentlemen.” Alanna smiled at each of them as they sat down on either side of her. “I am very lucky.”

“We’re the lucky ones.” Rance picked up his fabric napkin and spread it on his lap. “While we’re here, we’ll behave. At least I will. I can’t speak for the perv over there.” He inclined his head toward Ellery.

“I’m not a perv,” Ellery said. “I’m just confident.”

Alanna laughed. “So it’s going to be an interesting night. Are you two sure about this? It isn’t anything we haven’t already done but it’s different.” She couldn’t quite find the words for what she meant but hoped the guys would understand her question.

“It’s different because we both know we want to be with you now, and it isn’t spur-of-the-moment,” Rance said. “Separately everything was great. We can keep it separate all the time except I don’t think that’s what you want, Alanna.”

“I want whatever you two are comfortable with.” She paused. “No. I don’t want to be with you each separately all the time. Part of the appeal of having you both in my life is occasionally having both of you. If you aren’t okay with it, though, I can let it go.”

“Tonight we’ll see whether we’re okay with it,” Ellery said. “The other night was fun as hell. We just weren’t totally prepared for how we would feel about it. The feels, they burn.”

“Yeah.” Alanna reached out her hands to them, and each of the guys took one. “I love you both,” she said. “Whatever it takes for this to work, I’ll try.”

“So will I,” Rance said.

“Feels,” Ellery muttered. “Yeah. What he said.”

Alanna shook her head. “Okay, cynical one. Let’s eat and then we’ll see what happens back at the motel.”

Release Week! Christmas Consummation

It’s the holiday season, which means ’tis the season of Christmas-themed romance stories. Ellora’s Cave decided this year to do a menage theme for Christmas, and before a few other things happened, I wrote a story for it. Menage is kind of my thing lately… not so much about the sex, but about the dynamics of having more than two people involved in a relationship.

I also have a soft spot for reunion stories, so that’s what I ended up writing. In Christmas Consummation, Alanna reluctantly returns to her hometown for Christmas and encounters the two men she loved in high school. Back then, Rance was one of her oldest friends, and Ellery was the “new kid”. Alanna was in love with both of them, but when they wanted her to choose between them, she chose to have neither.

Seventeen years have passed. Alanna and Rance have both been married and divorced. Ellery has never married. When they reunite at a bar a couple days before Christmas, it’s obvious to all three that old feelings haven’t died. And this time, Rance and Ellery are mature enough to understand and accept that Alanna can’t choose, and Alanna is confident enough to try a relationship with both men.

Christmas Consummation releases Wednesday from Ellora’s Cave.

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Teaser Thursday- Hooch and Howls

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They pulled the rowboat out from the storage space beneath the cottage’s verandah. Malachi’s father had built the place on a slope, which left plenty of room below to keep things that wouldn’t fit inside the cottage, while avoiding the need for a separate shed or boat house. He gave the bottom of the boat a cursory inspection to ensure that he and Roger wouldn’t sink on their way to town, since they would have to row around to the other side of Herman’s Island and past the points known as First and Second Peninsula to reach Lunenburg, and then they carried the boat down to the beach.

“Lot of trouble to go to just to get to town.” Roger was out of breath by the time they reached the water. “Be easier if you had a car.”

“The roads aren’t the best,” Malachi replied. “This suits me fine. We should get your boat higher up, maybe into the bushes. Tide will take it otherwise, and if anyone comes looking for you, we wouldn’t want them spotting it.”

“Yeah.” Roger frowned. “I didn’t think of that. They might already have seen it.”

“If they did, they did. We should still move it. The tide’s coming in.” Already it was lapping at the bow of Roger’s little boat, whereas when Roger had arrived the water had only reached the boat’s midpoint.

They pulled the boat up into the bushes where Malachi had hidden the previous day, before getting into Malachi’s boat. Looking at the sun, he estimated the time to be around seven thirty; too early to expect the town’s shops to be open, but by the time they arrived most places would be. That was the only advantage of the trip taking so long.

He made Roger get into the boat and pushed it off into the water before climbing in himself. Cursing himself for not taking off his shoes, he took position in the boat’s stern and started rowing. “I can help,” Roger said.

“Rest,” Malachi replied. “Sleep if you want. I can manage.” He doubted the man was nearly as strong as he was. Increased strength was another side effect of being a werewolf.

Roger sat on the bench in the boat’s bow, facing Malachi. “Why are you so concerned?”

“You came to me for help,” Malachi pointed out. “And I may be a hermit, but that doesn’t mean I have no heart. How long have you been on your own?”

“On my own?” Roger sniffed. “I’m twenty-three years old. You make it sound like I’m a child.”

To Malachi, the man seemed like a child. A tough one; streetwise and too-knowing, but a child nonetheless regardless of his age. “Jonathan said you were on the street when he met you.”

“That.” An unreadable expression crossed Roger’s face. “Left home when I was twelve. I had reasons. Don’t want to get into them, if that’s all right with you.” His tone made it clear he didn’t care whether it was all right. He wasn’t about to talk.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you’d prefer not to,” Malachi assured him. “I don’t mean to pry. You might have guessed I don’t speak with others often. And if you’re not going to sleep on the way to town, we might as well talk to pass the time.”

Roger shrugged. “My father was a fisherman. Died on the water when I was eight. When I was eleven, my mother remarried. Another fisherman, one who did more drinking than fishing. He was free with his hands and expected me to be free with other things, if you catch my meaning.”

Malachi caught it perfectly and swallowed hard against a roll of nausea. He wasn’t naïve; he knew some men did horrible things to their families. But hearing Roger discuss it so matter-of-factly made his heart ache. “Did you tell your mother?”

“What could she do? He used his fists on her as much as me, and she said we needed him to keep a roof over our heads.” He looked down at his hands. “I took it once. Not that he gave me much choice. Hurt like hell. He wasn’t gentle. He didn’t care. I think he liked hurting me that way. I’d just turned twelve then, thought maybe I could find work in the city, so I went.”

“And did you find work?” Malachi braced himself for the answer he anticipated. He doubted a twelve-year-old boy on his own had found a job in a shop or on a ship.

“Of sorts.” Roger’s voice dropped. Even with his heightened hearing, Malachi had to strain to make out the words through the wind in his ears. “There were men who wanted the same thing as my stepfather. Some of them were gentler, and they paid. It kept me fed. Gave me shelter, sometimes. It wasn’t what I wanted, but all in all it might have been worse. At least I lived.”

Malachi’s heart went out to this young man, who had lived by means no one should have had to. And he had done nothing better than the men who’d purchased Roger’s body. “I apologize for what I did to you yesterday. I should have left you and Jonathan alone.”

“What?” Roger looked at him, surprised. “No. I didn’t mind that. I could have fought you off if I’d wanted. I—I’d done that kind of thing before. Some of the johns liked it, two of them and one of me. I didn’t mind.”

“I didn’t ask.” Malachi’s stomach rolled again. He tried to blame it on his hangover, but that had already faded thanks to food, coffee, and rapid werewolf healing. The truth was, in his drunkenness he had victimized one who had been victimized too many times before. He sickened himself.

Tweaks, Changes, and Adjustments

The past week has brought changes and reconsiderations in my writing career.

Wooden Pencils In Line

Two of my books which were previously under contract with Ellora’s Cave have been returned to me. The books hadn’t been edited, and there was no release date in sight, so I asked to cancel the contracts. Ellora’s Cave obliged quickly and professionally, which I appreciate.

One of those books, a contemporary novel called With Every Touch, is currently waiting for me to decide what to do with it. The other, a contemporary “spice up the marriage” roleplay novella called Knot Intended, was just accepted by Loose Id.

I also asked for–and was granted–my rights back on my novel Shiny Objects, an MFM menage romance originally published in August 2011. Sales were not as good as I and the publisher would have liked, so it made no sense for the book to continue as it was. Fortunately, in the world of digital publishing, poorly-selling books can sometimes find new life. I already know where Shiny Objects is going once I’ve done some revisions, though I’m not going to give details just yet.

I’m currently at work on Stepping Stone Not Doormat, which will be the next book in my drag queen series with Loose Id. (And the first book of the three to be officially identified as a series title… I’m guessing if accepted, Loose Id will add the series title to the other two books.) And the next romance project I have on my list is the next book in my Love Like Vampires series. 

Many great things are coming for me over the next year or so; I can feel it. And I can’t wait to see what happens.

Special Guest Maryn Blackburn

Welcoming fellow Loose Id author Maryn Blackburn today. Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for having me, Karenna. (My mom would be so pleased I remembered my manners.) I’m Maryn Blackburn, author of Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel published by Loose Id. Here’s what it’s about:

Natalie and her husband James, who runs a Tucson masonry firm, are happy enough despite business being in a continued slump. After nearly a decade, their sex life has less spark than it once did. They’ve idly talked about a threesome, although they cannot imagine who (or how) they could ask. It’s a spicy fantasy until the night they attend a party where handsome actor Gage Strickland needs another guy to rescue him from his adoring fans, all of them women.

After two bottles of first-rate wine, their fantasy becomes a reality, but not the one Natalie imagined. She is not the object of two adoring men, one of them faceless and conveniently disappearing when the loving’s done. Instead, the other man is the gorgeous Gage, he’s the one in the middle–and what does that make James?

Because she loves her husband, she accepts his new reality. Their intimacy is refreshed, their needs like newlyweds’ as the days pass waiting for Gage’s call, until they can only conclude he never will. They were a one-night stand.

Gage does return, seeking not just sex but a relationship, although he has no idea how they work. He has his reasons for choosing sex with strangers in the past, since they’ve been eager to do what Gage wants for the bragging rights. Now he’s inclined to leave at the first sign of trouble rather than working through it.

Tripped up by Gage, the ménage stumbles often but continues. Natalie soon fears her James prefers Gage over her. There’s one thing Gage won’t do in the bedroom, but is her willingness enough to hold onto her husband? Or will Gage sabotage the whole thing before they reach that point?

I hope I haven’t told too much, but it’s probably like telling you Dorothy makes it back from Oz. You know how it’s going to play out, just not the details. Like Mom said, the adventure is in the journey, not the destination.

Oh, and the one question which will come up? Yes, Gage is based on a real actor, although it doesn’t matter who. But know this: A book that starts out as the worst sort of fan fiction, imagining your life intersecting with an actor’s and what might happen next, can become something richly complete and entirely free of him and yourself. I actually prefer Gage to the man he’s based on, since I got to mold him. The actor refuses to let me do the same for him, as if he had the right to control his own life. Imagine that!

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Interview with the Characters:

 

Interviewer: What is it that drew you all toward a threesome?

 

Natalie: Have you seen Gage? My god, the man’s handsome. I remember feeling aroused the first time I saw him, although at the time James was the only one I I thought would benefit.

James: That would have been great, but what happened was better. Who doesn’t get a rush from something new? Plus Natalie’s right. Gage has the kind of bone structure the camera loves, and he takes care of himself. So at first it was just animal attraction.

Gage: Shut up, both of you. Polished rock in a fancy box.

 

Interviewer: Oh, you’re modest, then?

 

Gage: No, I’m kind of vain, but I know physical attraction only goes so far. If you’re a handsome son of a bitch who’s selfish or mean, any relationship is doomed. Well, unless you’re happy with a door mat glad to have the mud off your shoes. None of the outside matters. It’s who you are inside.

James: “It’s who you are inside”–and I’ve been inside. Very nice.

Natalie: James!

James: Relax. They know already. That’s part of why they want to read about it.

Natalie: Looks are for the early part, before you have more to go on. The two men I’ve been in love with? I don’t even see them as they really look, which is a shame. The fact that I love them makes them attractive to me. I’m going to want these two when they’re losing their hair and sporting beer bellies, I imagine.

Gage: Yeah? Not that I plan to get fat or lose my hair, but who does?

James: I do. I couldn’t believe how a few weeks off equals a few pounds on. I should be laying brick for the exercise alone.

Natalie: Or giving up beer.

Gage: Like that’s going to happen.

 

Interviewer: What are some of the challenges of a three-way relationship?

 

James: People don’t get it, or they don’t approve. With strangers, you try not to care. Fuck ‘em, right? But you can’t adopt that attitude with family. My twin brother was a total dick at first. And the people you work with look at you funny, although since I own the business, they don’t say anything. They may have to accept it, but they don’t have to like it.

Gage: I really worried my career would take a hit. What if they only sent my agent scripts with a bisexual or gay character? But so far, both the industry and my fans seem to be all right with it. And the press gave me fifteen minutes of the spotlight then moved on to somebody else. There’s no shortage of celebrities doing shocking things, huh?

Natalie: Being in a committed relationship probably helps everyone get over it. People approve of love.

James: It’s pretty hard to come down on the other side of that. It’s like opposing good health.

 

Interviewer: So being in love means it’s been smooth sailing, for the most part?

 

Natalie: Hardly. Three people means three times the problems. Jealousy, that was a big one for me. This new guy’s handsome and rich and not the same old thing. Just try to compete with that.

Gage: I didn’t even know it was a competition, much less that she thought I was ahead.

James: I never stopped loving you, Nat. You know that.

Natalie: Well, now I do. At the time, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to share you.

 

Interviewer: And now you do?

 

Natalie: And now I can.

James: I’m not the linchpin here. Nobody is. We all share ourselves with the other two.

Gage: Don’t ask me to share the dinosaur mug. That’s mine and Natalie’s.

 

Interviewer: There’s an inside joke here?

 

Gage: Yes. Can I?

Natalie: Go ahead.

James: I don’t know what either one of you is talking about.

Gage: So listen and you will. There’s this cup, with a dinosaur attached to the bottom, inside. It’s cute.

James: Oh, that. It’s juvenile.

Gage: Which is why you never use it. So Natalie’s always the last one who used it, and that’s why I like to choose it. Which is also juvenile.

Natalie: But sweet. It really is. Why don’t you say things like that, James?

James: I don’t have to. I love you, and I buy you waffles.

 

Interviewer: Another inside joke?

 

James: Yeah, but it won’t be funny to anybody else. Let it go.

Natalie: Good idea, but maybe we should go out to breakfast.

Gage: Fruit plate for me. My agent says I’m getting fat.

James: He’s wrong.

 

Interviewer: Your images on the cover suggest you’re all in great shape. Any workout or diet tips?

 

James: Lay brick for six to ten hours a day, five days a week, sometimes six, and eat whatever you want. Also, I was sucking it in a little.

Natalie: Keep your curves covered in dark clothes and hide between two guys who are buff?

Gage: Oh, stop. Natalie’s body is how women are supposed to be shaped, as round and full as a great wine. Look, she’s blushing. My tip is eat less than you want and put yourself in the hands of the most sadistic personal trainer you can find a couple months before filming starts.

Natalie: And get yourself an agent who knows you’re a pro who will be in shape when it’s needed?

Gage: Yeah, that, when your contract is up.

 

Interviewer: So, back to the threesome. What smaller problems does a ménage present?

 

Natalie: Even with a big bed, somebody’s in the middle and can’t control how much of the covers is on them. Usually it’s me.

James: Poor Natalie, suffering so much. Here’s one: It’s hard to agree on what you’re going to do, whether it’s a movie or what to make for dinner. Pleasing three is way harder than two. We’ve given up on trying to pick the restaurant. Gage does that.

Gage: I’m still trying to strong-arm them into letting me set up a vacation. They don’t have passports, which puts a crimp in it. Small problems? There’s never enough coffee for three. I always need to make another pot, but then we waste it. Half-pots never come out right.

James: You suffer nearly as much as Nat with her covers.

Natalie: Tragic. I’m really aware–we all are–how trivial our problems are. I don’t want us to seem all smug fussing over the blankets and coffee and vacations when people face real crises every day with courage and grace. We know we’re so very lucky.

Gage: See why we love her?

James: How could I not?

 

EXCERPT from Brick by Brick:

“You’re an actor too?” Gage sat straighter, his expression freshly attentive.

I rarely saw James flush with pride, not even when customers gushed about his artistic masonry. “Just TV ads.” He drank. “None lately.” He lifted himself from the recliner with a little groan, then added another log to the fire and prodded it to life.

“They still show his cotton ads,” I said. “Putting on a T-shirt. Taking a pair of jeans off the clothesline and smelling them, and the camera goes back and you can see there must be hundreds of pairs. Flopping onto this big bed and the sheets puff up around him. My sister thought that one was dirty, the expression on his face.”

Gage was a good audience, listening more than talking, laughing a lot when I blurted whatever was in my head without thinking first. Time glided past rapidly. Gage moved to refill my glass; I wasn’t sure that was such a good idea. I asked James with my eyes if I was doing all right.

“Go ahead, Nat,” he said. I knew that lazy smile. He wasn’t drunk, just uninhibited, loose to the nth degree. Some of our best sex included that look—and some of James’s best TV ads did too. “It’s a party, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.” Gage filled my glass halfway before the bottle emptied. “A good party.”

“With only three, I think we have to call it an intimate gathering,” James said.

Gage’s smile dazzled. “Do I open the next one?”

What the hell. “If you like your gatherings really intimate,” I said.

“I think she wants you to stay,” James said, laughing. “Open it, already.”

The cork squeaked out. “See if you taste layers of fruit.” Gage sounded a little buzzed too.

James sipped, rolling the wine in his mouth with a frown of concentration.

“Taste it? Blackberries and raspberries? Kind of voluptuous and round. God, listen to me, one bottle and I turn into a pompous wine asshole. Anyway, it’s really ripe and full-bodied. Like Natalie.” He held his glass up, admiring the color.

Or toasting me? No. Ridiculous.

James raised his glass as well. “She’s something in that dress, isn’t she?” At Gage’s nod, he added, “You ought to see her out of it.”

 

Teaser Thursday- Shiny Objects

Since I blogged about jealousy on Monday, I decided to share an excerpt from my MFM novel Shiny Objects that has to do with jealousy. The novel was released in August 2011 by Passion in Print Press.

ShinyObjects_200

 

Corin glanced over his shoulder at Elena. She sat at the table picking at a fingernail, one of her most obvious nervous habits. What really happened at that guy’s place? He didn’t want to ask. That might make her think he didn’t trust her. He had absolute trust in her and their relationship. He just didn’t know whether he trusted Niko.

“Do you want some chicken?” he asked.

“Yeah, that would be good.” She smiled. “I’m so lucky to have a man who cooks.”

“Yes, you are.” He added some adobo spice to the chicken breasts and flipped them over.

He hadn’t actually intended to make a meal. When he’d wandered out to the kitchen, he’d been looking for a snack to keep his stomach quiet while he played his game. He hadn’t realized how much time had passed since Elena had left for her friend’s place until he’d glanced at the clock on the microwave.

She was gone a long time. Long enough for something to–

He broke off the thought and flipped the chicken again. Nothing had happened between Elena and Niko. Nothing would. Elena had given him her word that she and Niko just wanted to resume their friendship, and she always kept her word.

The night they’d met, they’d fallen for each other so instantly that he had no doubt they were meant for each other. She would no more cheat on him than he would on her.

Why am I even thinking this way?

Jealousy wasn’t like him. He’d never had a problem with the women he dated being friends with other guys. Elena had plenty of friends of both genders from the chat room, and he’d never minded her spending time with them.

Something about the way she’d looked at Niko at Laurie’s party, though, told him there was more there than just friendship. More even than just sex.

With a loud sigh, he took the frying pan off the burner and set it on a pot holder on the counter. “Is something wrong?” Elena asked.

“No, not at all.” He turned with a smile, and she gave him a hesitant smile in return. “Just thinking how nice it must be for you to reconnect with an old friend.”

“Niko’s a good person.” She leaned back and crossed her legs. “I’m glad he’s part of the chat group again. We used to talk about pretty much everything, and it was always fun debating with him. You’re great with stuff like that, but–”She frowned. “Sorry.”

“For what? I’m not always around for you to talk to.” He folded some sheets of paper towel on the counter beside the frying pan and scooped the chicken onto them to drain the oil. “Look, everything went okay there, right? He didn’t try anything?”

“No, no, of course not.” She sounded offended. “Do you think I’d have been gone so long if he had? I wouldn’t take that from anyone, not even Niko. You’re the only man I want.”

“Good.” He walked over to her and kissed her on top of her head. “You’re the only woman I want. I think I’d end up with shiny object syndrome if I tried to juggle two women.”

She laughed. “Shiny object syndrome, huh? And now I have a mental image of you literally juggling me and someone else. You just dropped her.”

“Good, because I don’t want to drop you. Do you want anything with your chicken?” He went back to the counter. If she could joke with him, she wasn’t too upset or worried. She’d probably just thought he would be upset with her for being gone so long.

By now, she should know me better than that. He didn’t get jealous. He refused to.

Unconventional Relationships

When you hear the word “relationship,” in the context of love and romance, what do you think?

Most people think of that type of relationship as being between two people. That’s what our society (United States; I don’t know about the rest of the world and don’t want to speak from lack of knowledge) has taught us. You date one person at a time until you find “the one,” and then you move in with and maybe marry them. When I posed the question “What’s the first thing you think of when you hear ‘relationship?’ on Facebook, the one word that showed up in nearly every response was “commitment.” Faithfulness and “to someone” were also part of some responses.

Some people read menage romances, which involve more than two people in a romantic relationship, with a sense that it’s purely fantasy and imagination and nothing like that could exist, or at least could work, in real life. My novel Shiny Objects (Passion in Print Press, August 2011), was written in response to an editor friend of mine who said she didn’t believe a menage could exist or work in real life because “no man would ever want to share his woman.” In that novel, I presented Elena, a woman living with and almost engaged to her boyfriend Corin, who reconnects with an old lover Niko and realizes there are still feelings there. Corin, a fairly laid-back guy, thinks he’s okay with Elena “getting Niko out of her system” before she finally settles down, but he soon realizes it’s harder than he believed. It isn’t easy for Elena or Niko either, but Elena can’t choose between the two men she loves. So with a lot of negotiation and communication, they become what’s known in the polyamory community as a V triad; the two men have no relationship (other than a sort of friendship), but share Elena.

Some people insist a situation like that can’t exist in real life, but I’ve known people who are in a committed triad (or more) and make it work. Sometimes kids are involved, sometimes not. Sometimes the families, friends, etc. of the people in the poly relationship are aware of it, sometimes not. There are many ways to form that type of relationship and to make it work, but three factors seem pretty consistent no matter what: communication, negotiation, and commitment.

I’ve mentioned in the past that when I was growing up, my dad had three male friends who were in a committed triad relationship. And their relationship was one of the healthiest I saw as a teen. They fought and argued, and there were probably things going on behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of, but overall the three of them communicated, enjoyed each other’s company, and seemed to genuinely love each other.

The thing about love is that it isn’t finite. A parent can love more than one child, so why can’t someone love more than one romantic partner? I’ve seen it work, not only with my “uncles” but with other people in my life. It isn’t easy, by any means. And it isn’t the same as polygamy, in which one man marries more than one woman, often for religious reasons. I’m talking about polyamory, which means loving more than one. If there’s more love in someone’s life because of an unconventional relationship that everyone involved agrees about and is happy with, what’s wrong with that?