Jeremy fancied himself an aesthete, even if his publisher (and what a crusty old goat of a man his publisher was!) saw him as a lazy good-for-nothing who only managed to deliver his work at the last possible minute. Could you be more like Paulie? the pub would ask him, shaking a handful of little stapled eight-pagers in his face. Paulie, he don’t care about makin’ great art, he’ll just draw Moon Mullins jazzin’ some motion picture beauty queen, and he won’t take three fuckin’ weeks to draw it all! So he’d nod and promise the next time the work would be done faster, and every time the next time rolled around he’d find himself detailing the bark on trees in the background for hours at a time instead of puzzling out how many excuses he could come up with for a lady’s top to fall off. He’d bring in two more stories than they asked of him as an apology of sorts, but even the promise of extra books wasn’t enough to keep him from getting yelled at.
The questionably legal, and barely ever profitable, world of Tijuana bibles was hard on gentle souls like Jeremy.
I’ve heard it said that if you spend long enough on a story, long enough absorbed in the world and the characters, that it all starts to become real. It starts to seem as though the characters are actually people you could converse with, as though the events that you write are times you’ve lived through.
I’d like to find the person who said that and punch them in the dick.
Wait, I should probably back up before I say that.
My name is Trevor. I’m an author. Not a very good one, but it pays the bills… barely. I specialize in male-male romance, because, well, I’m a dude and I’m gay. They say to write what you know, so I do. Sometimes my heroes or their love interests are bi, but they always get the man in the end.
There was nothing Satu loved more than reading. He loved writing, but not quite as much as curling up with a good book, the growing anticipation of an inevitable climax–frequently close, but never on hand. Until, suddenly, it was right there, Satu along with it, cresting and riding that precious wave–
Well, okay, there was one thing that Satu liked more than reading.
And that was sex.
“H-h-hah,” Satu gasped incoherently, though there had been words intended when he’d first opened his mouth. Probably words like ‘I love your cock inside me’ or maybe just a ‘fuck yes,’ but whatever they were supposed to be, they were long lost as Satu’s lover rocked a little deeper, and Satu’s aimless consonants turned into an endless needy whine.
His lover’s rhythm sped up, and he came with a grunt, his cock softening and starting to slide out immediately.
Satu made a dissatisfied noise and knocked his wrist into his lover’s head. “What the hell? And you call yourself a goddamn kitsune?”
“Ah, sorry, sorry,” Ensio said, catching Satu’s arm and pinning it to the bed. “I had a long day.”
Joe filed into the security line, along with what seemed like half the city. The airport speakers crackled with announcements every minute or so, and the line didn’t seem to be moving an inch.
At least he’d listened to his agent and turned up early.
He wondered what Alexei would make of this situation. Did vampires need to take airplanes? Alexei could fly, but it hardly seemed a practical method for cross-country travel. No, Alexei would need to take a plane, just like any human.
Alexei would hate the press of other people, the constant noise, the vague sense of irritation permeating the air from hundreds of people who felt this was a waste of their time.
Joe pulled his ever-present notebook out of his pocket and quickly jotted down some notes. As a legal teenager, would Alexei get unaccompanied minor status?
By the time he reached the front of the line, Joe was feeling just about vindictive enough to make Alexei’s school take a field trip across the country.
Lord Lisandro Reyez de Vallena rested his chin on his hand and looked glumly at the little dais where Sehzad, court poet to King Lupe of Ilores, was presenting his latest work, an epic poem called ‘Lord Juan the Bastard’.
” A Queen of royal blood the crown did wear;
But a daughter only did she bear.
Not so the rest; for several mothers bore
To Ellorn’s god-like king, several sons, and more.
But since like slaves his bed they did ascend,
No true succession could their seed attend.
Of these the false Lord Juan was worst:
A name to all succeeding ages curst.”
In spite of himself, Lisandro got lost admiring the Savasko poet’s glossy black curls, which were tamed by a gold circlet that brought out the flecks of amber in his heavy-lashed brown eyes. Sehzad held himself confidently, one hand on his chest as the other gestured to emphasise the highs and lows in his recitation. Sehzad was only in his late twenties, but already he had a deep, melodic voice with a slight Savasko accent in the vowels that wrapped around Lisandro and made him warm and shivery.
“Juan was fine of form and fair of face,
An adornment to the King of his race,
But possessed a fiery soul, which working out its way,
O’erleaped the boundaries of its clay.”
“Forgive me for noticing,” said someone at his elbow, and Lisandro turned around, brushing his chin-length black hair out of his eyes to see the speaker. Lord Valentin sat down beside him and continued, “But it seems to me that Lord Juan bears a startling resemblance to your honoured self.”
“Do you think anyone else has realised?”
“Oh, without doubt,” said Valentin. He tilted his chin towards the dais. “Lovers’ tiff?”
“We’re not lovers.” Lisandro sighed. “And don’t say that so loudly. We’re not in Jovan.”
Daniel paused a few steps away from the checkout counter and grimaced. God damn it, for how much of a burnout Eddie clearly was, he took an impressive assortment of shifts. This was what he got for not going to the “good” 7-Eleven. Daniel shook his head at himself and raised his eyes to heaven for strength so he could just get this over with.
He put his two six-packs of Sam Adams up on the counter and pulled out his wallet without making eye contact. He could still feel it, the slow, stoned pull of Eddie’s gaze as it went from the beer to his face. Just hearing him start to smile made him want to punch him in the face.
“Oh, hey, Harold!” Eddie said. “Where’s Kumar?”
Daniel gritted his teeth. “Fucking your mother,” he said, and Eddie just let out a laugh like a baked donkey.
“The what?” I asked.
“Stack whackers,” Irina repeated, enunciating each word through her Russian accent — though it seemed I’d heard her clearly the first time. “Luna didn’t tell you about them?”
“Uh, nope.” I shook my head. My first week as a work-study student assistant in the main campus library, and already I was having visions of my death at the hands of mafiosos hiding behind the huge sliding racks of periodicals down on B-level. It seemed to me an inefficient place to stage a hit, but what did I know? My incredibly Italian surname to the contrary, I’d never been in the mob.
Luna, the head reference librarian, laughed without looking away from the computer screen. “It’s not the technical term,” she pointed out.
“You find them in the stacks,” Irina said, “and sometimes they … you know.” She made her fist into a hollow tube shape, brought it to her pelvic level, and began jerking it back and forth while making some of the most ridiculous pseudo-porn grunts I’d ever heard, bringing both Luna and me to giggles.
Allan was a few minutes early, no thanks to public transit, but he was used to its vagaries and had tricked fate by scheduling the appointment for after rush hour. He double-checked the address in his notebook, then snapped the elastic around the book and slid it into the back pocket of his black jeans. He made a quick all-points review of his appearance: fly fastened, tie and shirtfront free of any evidence of the blueberry muffin he’d had for breakfast, no visible cat hair on what he could see of his jacket–work drag all in place. The wind brushed a lock of hair against his temple, and he tucked it behind his left ear.
The house was a typical red brick bay-and-gable semi, shrubs and perennials taking low-maintenance place of a lawn, nothing blooming now but a pot of sunset-and-flame chrysanthemums drawing the eye up the flagstone walk to the small porch. Allan crunched through fallen leaves and up the porch steps. The door had a bronze knocker in the shape of a sleeping cat.
Response to his knock didn’t take long. He could hear someone coming at a quick walk down uncarpeted stairs, and then the door swung open.
Allan offered his professional smile and his business card. “Russell Evers?”
“Allan del Mar? Please, come in.”