Archive for Excerpts

Wednesday Work in Progress

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Since At First Touch and Every Shattered Dream are the two I’m still working on this week, I thought I’d give you another small peek at At First Touch, our soccer(football) story. 🙂 Also, I wanted to let you know that I might not be able to post the next installment of Hearts tomorrow. I’m going to be busy all day with real life stuff, not writing. Unfortunately….and I’m not sure I’m going to be up to writing when I get home tonight. But I will try and post something on Friday. I don’t want to leave you or the guys hanging…lol

so here’s another snippet from At First Touch.

At First Touch copyright c.2013 T.A. Chase and Devon Rhodes

Excerpt:

The stadium vibrated with the stomping and chanting of the fans as the teams came out on the field. Ewansiha felt the energy rise from the soles of his cleats up through his legs into his chest. It was almost like being at a rock concert, and feeling the bass drive the beat of his heart until he thought it would come out of his chest.

His cock stiffened, and he was happy his shorts were baggy enough, none of his fellow teammates would notice. Of course, he was pretty sure most of them sported hard-ons of their own. The excitement of the fans and the adrenaline of the players conspired to get them all hornier than monkeys.

Lukas jogged down the sideline next to him, and Ewansiha didn’t his best not to stare at him. Waking up to find him in his bed that morning had freaked Ewansiha out a little. Oh, it wasn’t the first time they’d slept together or anything like that. What had freaked him out was how right it felt to have the blond in his arms, and sharing his bed.

“Heads up, King.”

He looked up in time to catch the ball Padraig had thrown at him. Guess I should be happy he warned me instead of just letting it hit me in the face. Allowing the ball to drop to the ground, he began kicking it from foot to foot as he ran along

“Hey Schulz,” he called, and when Lukas glanced over at him, he kicked the ball to him. Lukas took it in stride, then proceeded to return it to him without pausing.

They ran some more warm up drills, including Paolo and Padraig along with the other guys who were going to be starting the game. Ewansiha would start, but he knew that later in the second half, when it got close to the referee calling time, the coach would pull him to put Lukas in. He was fine with that because his knee would be screaming by that time, and he’d be ready to call it quits for the day.

Their last practice had been run at full speed, and he’d needed Sergio’s magic hands and a tub full of ice to be able to walk out on his own two feet yesterday. His doctors all had promised him that the ache would fade over time, but Ewansiha was afraid that there would always be some lingering pain, waiting to take him out at the most inopportune times. He wanted to be able to play football for several more years, but he wasn’t positive that was going to happen.

He and the other nine men who would be starting the first game of the new season lined up to take shots at Paolo in goal. The man clapped his yellow gloves together, jeering at them, arrogant as always about being able to keep the ball out of the net.

Ewansiha knew how to score on Paolo, having played on the same team with him for five years and studying the man’s every move. It was insurance in case his contract ever got bought out by a different team, and he had to play against the goaltender. He wanted to be able to do it.

He jogged slowly towards Paolo, keeping his gaze on the man, not the ball at his feet. He’d always had a ‘sixth sense’ about where the ball was at all times, whether he had it or someone else did. Ewansiha watched Paolo, waiting for the right moment. There!

Paolo had shifted his weight to his left foot, putting all of it on his heel like he thought Ewansiha would kick the ball to the right, and Paolo would have to push off with that foot. It would put him off balance, not giving him enough time to react to Ewansiha’s kick.

Ewansiha drove his foot forward, propelling the ball as fast as he could towards Paolo. The goalie reacted too late, and the ball hit the back of the net. Paolo glared at him, but Ewansiha simply nodded to the man before taking off back to the team’s bench. He didn’t need to take any more shots to prove that he had Paolo’s number.

“You always score on him, even during mock games,” Lukas said softly under his breath as they took sips of Gatorade while waiting for the coach to give them last minute advice.

He shrugged. “It’s not hard when you know what to look for.”

Lukas shot him a quick look. “Will you show me?”

“Tonight at my place, we’ll go over some game footage, and I point out what I’m looking for before I hit the ball at Paolo.”

“Thanks.” Lukas bumped their shoulders together, just like two normal teammates would before a game.

“No problem, man. You’re going to be taking my place at some point. Want to make sure you’re as good as you can be before that happens.” Ewansiha had never been against sharing his secrets with teammates he liked. He never understood men who didn’t try to help the people they worked with. When one of them got better at his position, all of them got better as a team.

“All right, men. You know the game strategy. Kroenig, I want you playing center back to start. Defending might be easier on your knee. We’ll get you back playing center forward by the third game.”

Nodding, Ewansiha wasn’t going to complain. Part of his usefulness on the team was the fact that he could play both forward and defender positions, though he was stronger as a center back. Yet the coach knew best, and he still wasn’t at a hundred percent, no matter what the doctors had told him.

“Time to go, gentlemen.” The referee told them as he ran past to the center of the pitch.

“O’Leary, you’re center forward this game. The rest know where your spots are.” The coach gestured for Padraig to go to the middle of the pitch to do the coin flip.

Their team lost the toss, but none of them were worried about it. Once their opponents chose which goal they wanted to attacked, everyone took their positions. Ewansiha settled in his spot, then shot Lukas a quick glance.

Lukas grinned at him before giving him a wink. Chuckling, Ewansiha shook his head slightly before slipping into his game mentality. The pitch wasn’t the place for him to get distracted by his lover.

Wednesday Work in Progress….

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Well actually my works in progress are the same. At First Touch and Every Shattered Dream (Yes…I did change the title for that story. Decided this shorter version was catchier…lol) So I’m not sure what to share with you. Maybe a snippet from a short story I’m hoping to finish up next month. 🙂

It’s titled Restoration Project...and features a mechanic and the race car driver he’d fallen in love when the driver was a teen. 🙂

 

Restoration Project copyright c. 2013 T.A. Chase

The garage was deserted as Billy Joe strolled in to start his work day. Glancing around, he noticed all of the guys gathered around the front of the building, nudging each other and grinning like school kids.

“Angelina Jolie better be standing at the front door, gentlemen. That’s the only excuse you can give me for why you’re all huddling like a group of girls instead of working,” he quipped as he pushed through the crowd.

“Better than that, boss.” Jimmy turned and winked at him. “Though most of us don’t know whether to bow down to the bastard or punch him out.”

“What bastard? What the hell are you babbling about, Jimmy?”

Billy Joe’s mouth dropped open as he made it to the front of the crowd and set his eyes on what the rest of the guys had been ogling. Shit, it was better than Angelina Jolie, not that Billy Joe ever got a hard-on for her, but his dick got stiff when he saw the car., though there was something familiar about this particular car.

“Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda,” he whispered, hands itching to touch the gleaming fender. He stuffed them in his pocket.

“Yep.” Jimmy’s eyes sparkled with envy and lust. “Can you believe that the lucky bastard who owns this car smashed in the rear quarter panel? God, he shouldn’t be driving a car if he can’t keep from getting a scratch on this one.”

The rest of the guys nodded and Billy Joe snorted.

“Where’s the owner?”

“In with Dwayne.” Jimmy gestured over to the manager’s office.

Billy Joe headed that way. “Maybe you guys should start working before Dwayne comes out and kicks all your asses.”

They scrambled to their bays, none of them wanting to be standing around idle if Dwayne left the office. The manager of the garage liked busy employees. He didn’t like them drooling over customers’ cars.

He knocked on Dwayne’s door, then waited for his boss to call come in before he entered.

“Ah, Billy Joe. Glad you’re here. We got a new project just come in that I want you to take.”

“Sure.”

The man sitting in front of Dwayne’s desk stood before turning. Billy Joe’s mouth dropped open for the second time in as many minutes.

“Fuck me.”

Axel Robinson bit his lip and Billy Joe could tell the man was trying to not comment on what he’d just said.

“What are you doing here? Is that your ‘Cuda?”

Axel nodded. “Delacourte took a bat to it after he got disqualified during our last race. The asshole drove me into the wall going into the second turn, and he gets pissed at me because he lost the race.”

Billy Joe managed to tear his gaze away from Axel’s face to see the sling holding Axel’s right arm and the scraps on the man’s face. “Delacourte always was a cowardly bastard and a poor excuse for a driver. I bet your father was shitting bricks when that happened.”

Grinning, Axel nodded. “Chuck had Pop wrapped up tighter than a nun’s thighs. Pop wanted to beat the jerk to a pulp.”

“Can’t blame him. You’re a far better driver than he is, even with one arm tied behind your back.” Billy Joe winked at Axel before giving the man a quick hug. “What brings you to the garage?”

The younger man accepted Billy Joe’s hug without wincing and afterward, gestured in the direction of the ‘Cuda with his chin. “I knew you worked here and there isn’t anyone else I wanted touching my baby.”

Billy Joe looked over at Dwayne who nodded. “I’ll take Jimmy off the BMW and put him on your job. You can take this one.”

“Thanks, boss.”

“No problem. We have enough good mechanics that I can humor a request.” Dwayne wiggled his eyebrows at Billy Joe from behind Axel’s back.

Billy Joe rolled his eyes and settled his hand at the small of Axel’s back to lead him out of the office.

“Do you want to go over the car with me? Or should I call you with an estimate?”

Axel checked his watch. “Shit, I have to get back to headquarters. We have a meeting to discuss the next race. Why don’t you call me? We can meet up for dinner tonight and talk about the cost.”

“Great. Your number the same?”

“Yeah. Didn’t have a reason to change it.” Axel slapped Billy Joe on the shoulder. “It’s great to see you, man. You need to come over to our garage and see Pop. I know he misses you.”

“Tell him I said hi and I just might make it out to the races some day soon.”

Axel tossed him the keys to the ‘Cuda, then headed out of the garage. Billy Joe turned to see all the mechanics staring at him.

“No way? It’s just not fair that you get to work on this car.” Jimmy pouted, but Billy Joe saw the twinkle in the man’s eye.

“Hey, why settle when you can have the best mechanic do the work?” Billy Joe made his way to the car. “I know this car better than anyone but Axel. I helped him drop the engine in it after we got the body restored.”

After climbing in the car, he ran his hands over the steering wheel and grinned. It was good to see Axel again. Of course, the man had been all of seventeen when Billy Joe quit working for his dad, but still Axel’s boyish good looks warned of how devastatingly handsome he would become as he matured. Now at twenty-five, Axel was sex walking and Billy Joe didn’t know if going out to dinner with him was the wisest choice.

He turned the key and the roar of the engine brought back memories of the night they dropped the engine. Axel’s smile filled his whole face when they started it and it roared to life on the first try. The kid’s enthusiasm was contagious, but Billy Joe hadn’t been prepared for what the kid did next. Axel threw his arms around Billy Joe and hugged him tight.

The shock of their bodies touching from chest to knee just about drove Billy Joe to the floor. When his cock got hard at the scent of Axel’s sweat and grease, he knew he needed to stay away from Axel until the kid was older. No point in getting into trouble with Big Phil, Axel’s dad and Billy Joe’s boss.

Of course, back then, he didn’t know if Axel was into guys or not. There had been some signs of flirting while they worked on Axel’s baby, but Billy Joe always believed it was wishful thinking on his part.

By the time Axel turned eighteen, and Billy Joe could set about discovering which side of the fence Axel played on, Billy Joe had quit and left the racing scene behind him. Now he was getting another chance to reconnect with Axel. He’d admit, only to himself, that he missed Axel more than working on the race cars.

Someone slapping the window drew his attention back to the present. Turning his head, he saw Dwayne standing outside the car.

“Take her to bay fourteen. You can work on it there. If you need another pair of hands, you can get Heath to help you.”

“Thanks.”

He drove the car carefully into the garage before parking it in the bay Dwayne specified. After climbing out, he stood, glaring down at the dented rear panel and the scratches. Damn Delacourte. The bastard was childish and hateful, blaming others for things he brought on himself. If Billy Joe ever got close to the man again, he’d introduce his fist to Delacourte’s chin.

After grabbing his coveralls off the hook, he tugged them on. It was time to figure out how much it was going to cost Axel to fix the damage.

Wednesday Work in Progress….

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Our Wednesday Work in Progress happens to be Book 3 in the International Men of Sports series by Devon Rhodes and me. 🙂 This one takes place in Germany and has two elite footballers (soccer players) as the stars. My guy is Ewansiha “King” Kroenig and he’s half Nigerian/half German. Devon’s guy is Lukas Schulz, and he’s all German. We’re working on finishing this one up, and it’ll be out for general release in Sept., but of course, it’ll be available for pre-order and pre-release earlier than that. And as soon as it is, I’ll let you know. 🙂

All right, here you go.

At First Touch copyright c. 2013 T.A. Chase & Devon Rhodes.

Excerpt:

 

It wasn’t like he hadn’t slept with Sergio before, but as much as he liked Sergio, he knew he wasn’t the man Ewansiha could see spending the rest of his life with. His phone rang before he could make himself depressed about being alone at his age.

After digging it out of his pocket, he checked the screen, then answered it. “Hello baby. What’s going on with you?”

“Hello King. I’m going to be in town tonight, and wondered if you wanted to get together for dinner.” Silvia’s voice was smooth like the most expensive whisky.

He grinned at the thought of being able to see his favourite girl. Silvia had been one of his first girlfriends, and she was the one who helped him come to the realisation that he liked men as much as he did women. In fact, she was part of his first gay experience. She’d convinced him to have a threesome with her and one of her gay friends.

Silvia trusted the man, so Ewansiha went along with it, and ended up dating the guy for a month or so after Silvia broke up with him. She was his best friend, and the one person besides his mother who would call him on his bullshit if she thought he needed it.

“I’d love to get together with you, Sil. What are you doing in town, though? I thought you had a month long photo shoot in the Caribbean.” Ewansiha chuckled. “I can’t believe you got homesick for Germany after being in the Islands.”

Her laughter warmed him. “I had to come home for a few days to do some interviews. I fly back out in a couple of days to rejoin the shoot.”

“A woman’s work is never done, honey.” He leaned back against the partition of his locker. “Where would you like to go tonight?”

“I’ve already got us reservations at ? for eight. I’ll expect you to pick me up at seven-forty-five at {hotel}.” She was always in charge of their dates when they were together. Ewansiha had just gone along with her.

“Where’s Wendy? I’d thought she’d meet you when you were in town.”

The room began to fill as the rest of the team arrived for practice. He turned his back on them, not wanting them to overhear his conversation.

Silvia sighed. “She’s on a different shoot in Russia, and couldn’t get the time off. But she’s coming down to Bermuda in a couple of weeks, so we can hang out.”

“Sorry to hear that, honey. I know you probably miss her like crazy.”

Silvia had met Wendy a couple of years after she broke up with Ewansiha, and they’d fallen in love. It was her own bisexuality that had helped Silvia detect Ewansiha’s tendencies. He’d meet Wendy, and discovered why Silvia had given her heart to the woman.

“Next time the two of you are in the city together, call me. I’d love to be seen with two beautiful women.” He smiled as her laughter echoed over the phone.

“We’ll do that, but you do know neither one of us will be sleeping with you, right?”

“I’m not looking for what you’ve got, Silvia. Not at the moment anyway.”

The coach entered, and Ewansiha knew he had to end the call, then get changed into his uniform.

“I’ve got to go, Sil. I’ll be there to pick you up tonight. Love you.”

“Love you too, Ewansiha. We’ll talk more tonight.” She hung up, and the tone of her voice made him wonder if maybe he shouldn’t go out with her. It sounded like she had something on her mind, and Silvia could be difficult when she wanted something.

He shut his phone off, then set it in his locker. His mind kept running through things Silvia could possibly want to talk to him about, but he couldn’t think of anything. Ewansiha changed while his thoughts were elsewhere.

It wasn’t until he was tying his cleats that he realised someone sat next to him. Glancing over, he was surprised to see Lukas next to him. Their lockers were across the room from each other. Why would he be sitting there?

“Can I help you with something?” Lukas met his gaze, and Ewansiha saw exhaustion in his eyes. What had the man been doing the night before? “You look whipped, man. How late did you stay out?” Ewansiha shot a glance over to where the coach stood, chatting with Padraig. “You’re an adult, and you know what you should be doing, but you need to be careful about going out and partying all night.”

Lukas blinked at him, like he was surprised Ewansiha would say anything. After making sure there wasn’t anyone near them, Ewansiha reached out to rest his hand on Lukas’s knee. The flex of muscle under his hand distracted Ewansiha for a moment. He tightened his grip, then stroked his fingers over his hairy thigh.

“Umm…” Lukas cleared his throat, and Ewansiha jerked his hand away.

What the hell are you thinking? He wanted to slap himself in the forehead. He’d always thought Lukas was gorgeous, and he would love to get the man in bed, but never made a move on him because he’d never thought the man was gay.

“Sorry. Got thinking about something else,” he muttered.

Lukas shook his head. “No problem, King. Just so you know I wasn’t out partying last night. I’m not Paolo or Padraig. I might go out to the clubs during training and the season, but I wouldn’t do it if there was a chance it would ruin my chance of playing. I was helping a friend last night, and ended staying up later than I planned.”

“Oh, that’s good, because no matter how talented those two are, their late nights and too much drinking is doing them more damage than good.” Ewansiha gestured to where Paolo leaned against the wall, head in hand, very obviously nursing a hangover. “If you want my position on the team, you have to work to earn it.”

“I know, and trust me, I plan on taking your spot before too long, but I do know you’re got some good years left in you.” Lukas winked. “The reason I came over here is to see if you’d like to do some drills with me during the special skills practices.”

Ewansiha nodded. “Sure. I can show you some of the little things I do to get more power on my kicks.”

“Great.” Lukas stood, and Ewansiha quickly shifted his gaze from Lukas’s groin, not wanting to look like he was staring. “Thanks, King.”

Grunting, he finished tying his cleats, then grabbed a towel from the pile by the door as he walked by. It was time to get to work.

Wednesday Work In Progress…

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I’m going to post something from the secret project I’ve been working on. I’ve been doing the story in parts. This is the beginning of Part One, and I’ll be finishing up Part Three today. Then I’ll have two more parts to do. This is one of the stories that I have a deadline for, which is today for the first three parts. I got a little over 8k done last night on Part Three, so I have another 2-4k to do today, then fill out the blurb and cover forms for them. As soon as I know when it’ll be out, I’ll let you know. Hopefully sooner rather than later because I really like this story.

If you can find it, go and listen to the song, “Riding with Private Malone” by David Ball. The first part of the story is loosely based on this song. 🙂 I was inspired by it, but put my own twist on it…like I did with “Greyhound Bound for Nowhere” by Miranda Lambert for Nowhere Diner: Finding Love. I hope you find this snippet interesting enough to pick it up when it comes out. 🙂

It’s titled For Every Dream that Shattered.

For Every Dream that Shattered: Part One

Excerpt:

Holy Shit!

Logan stared at the car in front of him, then dropped his gaze to read the ad again.

“1967 Chevrolet. Good condition. Needs some repairs. Two thousand dollars or best offer.”

He’d called the number, and the man who answered agreed to have Logan come over to look at the vehicle whenever he liked.

Since he’d separated from the army, Logan had time on his hands. The economy might have been looking up, but it still had been near impossible to find steady work. He’d finally got a job working night security at a construction site earlier that week, but he needed his own car instead of borrowing his sister’s mini-van all the time.

When Logan saw the ad in the newspaper, he considered it a good sign. Maybe things were starting to look up for him. He studied the Chevy for a moment, then turned to face the man selling it.

“You have to know what you have here,” he said as he motioned to the car.

The elderly gentleman nodded. “I know exactly what it is and how much it’s worth.”

“Then why the hell are you selling it for two thousand dollars?”

After staring at him for a minute, the seller seemed to make a decision. “Son, would you like some coffee?”

Logan blinked at the sudden change of subject, but he nodded. “Certainly, sir.”

“Please call me Bert. You’re a military man, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir.”

Bert gestured for Logan to follow him. After carefully covering the car again, Logan caught up with Bert as the man made his way tentatively over the uneven ground. He considered offering Bert his arm to hold since he’d feel terrible if the man fell.

Yet something in Bert’s carriage or tilt of his head told Logan that Bert would refuse any suggestion of help. He seemed proud, and Logan wouldn’t take away his dignity, though he did stay close just in case.

“What branch did you serve in,” Bert asked as he weaved his way up the steps leading to the farmhouse’s back door.

“Army. I served in the First Air Cavalry for twenty years. Just retired last year”

Logan got to the door before Bert did, then opened it. Bert eyed him for a moment like he knew what Logan was doing, but he must have decided not to argue about it.

Bert didn’t pick up the conversation again until they were both seated at a wooden table with matching chairs. The amount of scratches and scarring that marred the top of the table spoke of its age.

“My great-great-great-grandfather made this for his new bride as a wedding present.” Bert ran his fingers over the surface like he was reading the memories embedded in the wood.

“It’s a nice table. Very solid.”

One of Logan’s hobbies was woodworking, and he knew quality workmanship when he saw it. Bert’s grandfather had a good eye and steady hand.

“Thank you.” Bert took a sip of the coffee he’d poured into mugs for them.

“Bert, I have to ask again. If you know what kind of car that is and how much it’s worth, why are you selling it for mere chump change? Especially considering how much you could actually get for it.” Logan held his mug tight between his fingers. As much as he wanted the car, he couldn’t justify paying so little for it.

“Here’s the thing, young man. That car’s been in my family for forty-six years, and only one person ever drove it.” Bert looked into his coffee and Logan wondered what Bert really saw in the dark liquid.

“How many miles are on it?”

“About a hundred. Kenny got drafted about a week after he bought it. Only had enough time to go on one short road trip before he needed to report to Fort Sill for boot camp.”

Logan frowned. “Kenny?”

“Yes. He was my youngest brother, and if everything had gone to plan, he would’ve outlived me. But war tends to take the young, and leave the old to mourn.”

Wednesday Work in Progress…

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I thought I’d share with you a snippet of a story I started a while ago. I’m not sure what the title will be, but it’s a kind of twist on the fairy tale, Beauty and the Beast. It’s set in a world where beauty and being beautiful is seen as evil, and being plain or average was seen as a great advantage. 🙂

I hope you enjoy it.

Untited copyrighted c. 2013. T.A. Chase

Hidden behind a very large oak, Calest watched the young man lead the girl away from the woods. He longed to call out and say good-bye, but he knew he couldn’t do that. Too many minutes of listening to his mother’s warning trained him to obey her wishes.

You must never let the villagers know you exist. If they find out about you, they will kill you. They think you are a monster.

Calest remembered asking his mother if he really was a monster. She’d draw him onto her lap, and cradled his face in her hands. Tears had welled in her eyes as she told him he was the most beautiful boy in the whole world, and he shouldn’t listen to ignorant people who believed in fairy tales.

He still wasn’t sure what she meant by that, but Calest accepted his mother’s words as the truth. He was beautiful, yet the villagers would fear him as a monster. So he watched whenever one of them came into the forest. He never approached them, shadowing their steps from one end of the woods to the other.

But it was the young man walking away from him that had intrigued him from the first moment he’d laid eyes on him. Calest didn’t know why the millwright’s son fascinated him so much.

He’d managed to follow Sean home one night as the man left the woods. Sneaking his way through the village, he’d discovered the young man’s name and what his father did. Calest had peered into the window of Sean’s house, watching as he cooked an evening meal.

A couple strolling through the village had scared him and he’d scurried back to his home. He’d never gotten the courage up to go out into the village again, and then winter arrived, trapping him in his cabin deep in the middle of the forest.

During the long harsh cold, Calest had dreamt and thought about the millwright’s son. He imagined what it would feel like to touch the man’s hair and skin. He didn’t understand the feelings and urges he had, since he’d never felt them before for anyone. Of course, it wasn’t like he ran across a lot of people in his woods. Most of them would have run away from him the moment he appeared.

Calest couldn’t even ask his mother. She’d passed away four years ago during another particularly rough winter. He’d been alone since then, wandering around the forest like a ghost, always yearning for more than what he had, but knowing he wouldn’t be able to have it.

When he saw Sean earlier that morning, he’d been thrilled to have the man back in his woods. He’d been tempted to approach Sean and speak to him, but he hesitated, unsure of how Sean would react to his presence, so he hung back.

Yet when he saw Sean get trapped in the scent of the Rapture flower, Calest had broken his promise to his mother about never interacting with the villagers. He got Sean away from the plant, but he knew the effects of the pollen would last for several hours.

Calest had approached the donkey with trepidation. He’d never dealt with a creature like that, but the animal didn’t seem bothered by him. It really acted like it was worried about Sean, nuzzling the man’s hair and huffing excitedly. Calest knew Sean had come to gather wood, and he didn’t want him to get in trouble. So he carried Sean to the edge of the forest, settling him down under a large oak.

After that, he turned to the donkey, and politely gestured for the creature to follow him. It seemed reluctant to go at first, but Calest persisted and finally it accompanied him to where there were several dead falls. It took most of the day, but Calest managed to fill the cart with all the wood it could hold.

When he finished, he returned to Sean, and moved him out away from the trees, where someone would find him. He tied the donkey to an oak nearby, making sure he could graze and get water from the bucket he found in the cart. Calest had filled it on their way back from the clearing.

Then he slipped away, watching from a far to make sure nothing happened to Sean until someone found him. When the rather unattractive female grabbed Sean and shook him, a strange emotion welled up in Calest. He didn’t like the idea of anyone else touching Sean. Why would he feel like that when he had no claim to the man? They hadn’t even spoken, and Sean didn’t know he even existed.

Once Sean and the woman were out of his sight, Calest turned to stroll back to where his cabin nestled, stopping to dig up the Rapture flower on the way. He didn’t want anyone else getting caught by its hypnotic pollen.

How had the plant gotten to that part of the forest? Usually they grew in the northern reaches of the woods. Maybe because of the rather cold weather they’d been having up until now, the flower had decided to expand its growing area.

He wrapped the roots in his handkerchief, and continued on his way to his cabin. Behind the building, he planted the flower in his garden. Standing back, he studied the odd collection of plants growing in his back yard.

His home was in one of the few clearings found in the very center of the forest. Travelers had never discovered it, because none had ever strayed from the road meandering from one edge of the woods to the other. His privacy was one of the few reasons he was thankful for the villagers’ fear of monsters in the forest.

He stared at the sea of color spread out in front of him. Most of the flowers weren’t dangerous in any way, yet the villagers feared them because of their beauty. His mother had begun the garden when she first came to live in the Demon Woods. She claimed that ancient fears and ignorant superstitions would drive those who live outside the forest to destroy all things beautiful.

Calest walked through his garden to the very edge of the clearing. He knelt in front of the wooden cross he’d placed to mark his mother’s grave. He cleaned some weeds out of the middle of the white and yellow flowers he’d planted there on the day he buried her.

“Hello Mother,” he said softly. He smiled as a gentle breeze teased his hair. “It’s been an interesting day.”

He proceeded to recount all the events of his day as the sun set and night slowly invaded his yard. He wasn’t afraid of the darkness, and shadows held no monsters for him. When he finally finished telling his mother what he’d done, he leaned over and kissed the cross before he climbed to his feet.

It was time for him to make dinner and settle in front of the fire for the rest of the night. He’d done all his chores earlier in the day before setting off to spy on the village. Calest had set a stew to cooking and it should have been ready by now.

Calest entered his cabin, shutting the door behind him before lighting the lantern hanging just inside. He checked on his supper, and dished it out on the one plate he had. Sitting at the table, he ate quickly, dunking his bread in the broth to get the last drops. He’d discovered he enjoyed cooking during his mother’s last days, when she hadn’t been strong enough to make anything for them.

After washing his dish and setting the stew back over the coals to keep warm for the morning, Calest settled in the chair closest to the hearth and pulled out one of his tattered books. He only had four books, and had read them all over the years. He had no way of getting more, so he treated them like they were treasures, even though the pages were falling out and the covers had ripped apart years earlier.

 An hour later, Calest sighed and gave up on reading. He shut his book and set it aside, slouching in his chair to stare at the glowing embers in the fireplace. His mind hadn’t stopped thinking about Sean and how the man had felt in his arms. Calest hadn’t allowed himself to dwell on it while taking care of the drugged villager.

Now he had nothing to focus on, and his mind remembered every single touch and brush of skin and hair. He relived how intriguing Sean smelled like newly cut wood and freshly turned earth. Somehow he’d known Sean would fit well in his embrace, though Calest wished the man had been awake, so he could have looked into Sean’s eyes.

He shook his head, and snorted. If Sean’s eyes had been open, all Calest would have seen in them was fear. His mother had explained why the people of Anleou were scared of beautiful things and people.

Every day Calest thanked his mother for having the courage to run away from the village instead of allowing them to end his life.  The practice of killing pretty children had come into being shortly after the Demon War, and no one thought of how barbaric it was. Not one mother or father questioned the law, and thousands of children were butchered over the centuries, until all the attractiveness had been bred out of the Anleou people.

His mother had been the first to go against the authorities. When she’d seen how beautiful her little boy was becoming, she knew his life would end on his fifth birthday.  So she ran away into the Demon Woods. The villagers feared the forest more than they did a little boy. They probably believed the woman and her child would die within days of entering the forest.

Somehow his mother had managed to survive and create a life for them both. While it had often been lonely, Calest had come to understand why they remained isolated from the rest of the world.

And until the day he saw Sean, he’d been happy in his solitude.

Wednesday Work in Progress…

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Sorry about posting late today. Just couldn’t get motivated this morning. 🙂 But I’m up and I realized I don’t think I shared a snippet of Chasing the King of the Mountain with you. I’m going to remedy that right now. (and if I already shared…here’s an extra peek…lol) This is the second book in the International Men of Sports series…and it’ll be out for general release on July 5th, barring any changes in the schedule. I’ll let you know when you can pre-order and get it pre-release as well.

Chasing the King of the Mountain copyright c. 2013 T.A. Chase & Devon Rhodes

Excerpt:

After his shower, Pascal flopped down on his bed, staring up at the ceiling for a moment. Every muscle in his body hurt, especially his calf where he’d got cut the deepest during the Tour last year. He was exhausted, yet he needed to keep training because he had a goal to ride in the next one, and at his age, even competing would be a big deal.

Sighing, he pushed back up onto his feet, then padded over to his closet. He dressed before heading out to his kitchen. His place wasn’t very big, and that was the way he liked it. He lived in the Dordogne countryside in a century old farmhouse. Renovating and modernising the inside had cost a pretty penny, but it was worth it. He didn’t change any of the outside, liking the way it appeared.

There was only one bedroom, which was fine because he rarely had visitors and it had been a long time since he’d had a serious enough relationship that any man would come to live with him.

In the kitchen, he readied his after-workout snack before grabbing his phone. He carried everything out onto the small verandah he’d built off the kitchen. It was a sunny day, and he was going to allow the warmth to soak into his old bones. Once he was settled, he picked up his phone to scroll through his contacts to Laurent’s name.

Pascal rarely watched TV or listened to the radio, and when he was training, he never did. But at the market today, someone had mentioned that Laurent had got engaged to his long-time boyfriend, causing Pascal to realise he hadn’t talked to his friend in a few days.

He’d known Laurent had been heading to Germany to cover the G8 summit, and he hadn’t wanted to bother Laurent when he had something that important to do. Plus Pascal had some soul searching to do, and some major decisions to make.

He wasn’t sure what Laurent would be doing at that moment, but at least he could leave him a message congratulating him. Pascal tapped on Laurent’s name, then waited for the man to answer.

Bonjour, mon ami,” Laurent answered.

Bonjour, Laurent. Am I calling at a bad time?” Pascal leant back in his chair, stretching his legs out in front of him. He stared down at the scars criss-crossing his shins.

“No. I’m in a holding pattern until I can get an interview with the American president. So, actually this is the perfect time.” Laurent sounded slightly annoyed.

Pascal grinned, knowing how much Laurent hated waiting around. “Congratulations on your engagement, Laurent. I think you and Jan are perfect for each other.” Not exactly true, but the right thing to say. “Have you chosen a date?”

Laurent snorted. “He just asked me right before I left for Germany. He wasn’t supposed to have announced anything until I got back, but like always, he can’t resist the spotlight.”

He did know how Laurent’s partner longed to be in the middle of a whirlwind of cameras and reporters. Pascal had seen the man in several tabloids throughout the years they’d been dating, yet Laurent rarely appeared with him. There were times when Pascal didn’t understand why Laurent stayed with Jan, but at times he saw the love that was there between them, though Pascal had an unhappy feeling there was more on Laurent’s side than Jan’s side.

It wasn’t his place to say anything, so he kept his mouth shut and supported Laurent when he needed it.

“Yes, he does. Still I hope you would’ve told me when you had a chance to call,” Pascal commented, flexing his feet to stretch his calves.

“Yes, I was planning on it, but I just haven’t had the time until just now, and I was about to dial your number when my phone rang. Great minds think alike, huh?” Laurent sounded like he was smiling.

“Well, I have a great mind to go along with my amazing body, but I’m not sure if you do. I think you’re just all fluff and no substance,” he teased.

“Ass.” Laurent changed the subject. “Have you been out riding?”

Pascal sighed. “Yes, and I’ll be riding in a race in Belgium and the big one in Italy. I’ve been training and it’s harder to recover from the workouts, but I’m still pulling the time I want, and I’ve been thinking…”

There was a moment of silence on the other end, then Laurent cleared his throat. “What have you been thinking about, Pascal?”

“A lot of things. I’m going to be forty-two this year, and to think about riding the Tour at that age is crazy…”

“Are you thinking of coming back for one more Tour?”

Pascal heard the shock in his friend’s voice, but there was also a hint of excitement in there as well.

“Yes. I let my team manager know that I’ll be back for the Tour. I have to join the team in two weeks for my first race of the season.” Pascal rested his elbows in the table, then propped his chin on his hand. “This is probably going to be the hardest season for me since I started competing.”

Wednesday Work in Progress…

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Today I thought I’d give you a sneak peek at one of the many books I’m working on right now. lol. This one is called Always Ready, which happens to be the motto of the Coast Guard. My characters are Chief Petty Officer Dean “Jake” Jacobson and Phil “Rhody” Rhodes.  As you can tell, Dean is in the Coast Guard. He works as a rescue swimmer stationed at the Kodiak Island base in Alaska. Phil is a Bering Sea crab fisherman.

I’ve been wanting to write a story about a rescue swimmer and a story about a crab fisherman (since one of my favorite shows is Deadliest Catch…which I now get to watch for research purposes…woo-hoo!)  I thought why not combine the two of them. 🙂

So here you go:

Always Ready copyright 2013 T.A. Chase

Excerpt:

The din of voices hit Dean like a physical blow as he pulled open the door to Darwin’s Theory, then walked in. He knew Phil would be waiting for him, but in the crowd of people, it was going to be hard to find him. Tonight was their last night together for a good long while.

Dean was a Coast Guard rescue swimmer stationed at Kodiak Base on Kodiak Island, and he had gotten a weekend pass to come to Anchorage. When he found out he’d gotten it, he called Phil to make sure his lover would be able to meet him.

Opilio season was about to open, and Phil had been up in Dutch Harbor, getting the boat he worked on ready for the season. Phil was a third generation crab fisherman, and it wasn’t easy for him to get away before a season started.

Yet he was able to do so, and now they had two nights together before Phil goes out on the Bering Sea to fill his quota, and make his money.

Dean jumped when someone pinched his ass. Turning, he hoped it wasn’t a woman who did it. He didn’t feel like dealing with tears or an indigent female wondering why he didn’t find her attractive. Hell, he hadn’t found any woman beautiful-except his mother-since he was young. He was gay through and through.

“I’ve been sitting here for over an hour, checking out the asses walking in and out of the bar. I have to admit you have go the best behind I’ve seen in a long time.” The voice in his ear caused him to relax, even as he turned.

“Do you also pinch everyone’s ass?” Dean grinned at Phil, though he kept his voice low to keep anyone from overhearing.

“Only the good looking ones.” Phil winked, then gestured towards a table further back in the bar.

Dean followed Phil, letting his gaze drift down Phil’s back to where the man’s ass was enticingly displayed by a pair of worn thin tight jeans. His lover would never wear those in Dutch or on the boat, but being in the city loosened some constraints for them both.

After flagging down a waitress, he asked for a beer and a shot of whisky.  She gave him a weary nod before rushing off to fill her orders. Phil took a seat in the corner, and Dean sat as close to him as he could without drawing attention to them. He slid his hand onto Phil’s knee under the table.

“Have a good trip in?” Phil inquires before taking a drink of his beer.

Dean nodded. “Yeah. LT came in with me to meet up with his girl before she heads out to visit her parents or something like that.”

“Cool. I came in on my own. Caught a flight out of Dutch early this morning. Checked in the hotel, then did some shopping for supplies. Season opens next week, and we have to be ready.” Phil’s blue eyes danced with desire and happiness.

“I missed you,” Dean softly blurted out, wincing when he heard those words spill out of his mouth.

Phil reached under the table to cover Dean’s hand, then squeezed it. “I missed you too. It’s been too long.”

It had been two months since they’d been able to spend time together. They’d chatted over Skype, emailed and text every day between opportunities, but it wasn’t the same as seeing Phil face-to-face and being able to hold him in his arms.

Wednesday Work in Progress…

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I wasn’t sure what to share with you, though I could give you a little glimpse into the story I’m expanding for Total e-Bound, but I might have already posted a snippet before I turned it in the first time.

I think I’m going to give you a peek at the story I’ve been writing out long hand. 🙂 It takes place in the early 1900s at the moment anyway…lol. I might change my mind about that part of it, though it’s a little late for that, considering how much I’ve written so far. So here you go….and I’ve got started typing it in, which is good. 🙂

Choices Sealed by Fate copyright c. 2013 T.A. Chase

Excerpt-

The shrill scream bounces along the street like a kid’s toy ball, no direction to its pattern. I round the corner in time to see two men struggling while a dame flutters around them like a hummingbird trying to figure out how to sip from their violent encounter.

Before I can intercede, a shot rings out and one man crumbles to the ground. The dame screams again, causing the remaining guy to point his pistol at her.

“Hey there,” I shout, not sure why I’m stepping into a problem that has nothing to do with me.

They both turn to look at me, and since the street lights were behind me, all they see is a very large silhouette of a man who sounds Irish, which in Boston, usually means police.

I’m not a copper, but hell, if he wants to think I am, I’m not about to tell him the truth. The man with the gun takes off, and maybe my first instinct should’ve been to go after him, but I’m no hero either, and I’d just gotten done doing a little fighting of my own. I’m in no mood to chase after a person who’s all ready shown he’s not afraid to kill a man.

“Oh Tommy,” the lady cries, drawing my attention to her once more.

She hovers over the man, reinforcing my image of a bird by fluttering her hands at me. “Is he dead?”

How should I know is what I want to say while staying as far away from them as I could, but what little manners my ma managed to beat into me before she died kicked in.

“I’ll check,” I mumble as I shuffle forward, every muscle in my body protesting the postponement of a nice hot soak in my bathtub.

My knees creak as I kneel, then press my fingers to Tommy’s neck like I’d seen a doctor friend of mine do. He was checking for a pulse, so I figure I should do that.

Considering there’s a good size hole in the man’s chest and an ever-expanding pool of dark liquid under him, I’m pretty positive Tommy’s dead.

“I called the cops,” someone yells from one of the windows overlooking the killing spot.

I wave to acknowledge them before standing. “I’m afraid your Tommy has expired, miss.”

“Oh,” she wails and sobs into a lace-edged white square fabric. Some kind of dainty handkerchief I image.

Once more I hear Ma’s voice berating and guilting me into my next actions. I approach the girl like I would a wild dog. Have to be careful not to frighten her because I don’t want her screaming again. My head’s already pounding from the beating I received earlier.

Slowly, I wrap my arm around her shoulder, tugging her against my chest. She’s too caught up in her own grief to worry about me, so she curls into my embrace like a kitten seeking shelter.

If I’m any other kind of guy, I’d be taking advantage of the opportunity to hold a shapely dame in my arms, but I’m me, and a dame-shapely or otherwise-doesn’t interest me at all.

Of course, most of the girls who hang around in my world are as hard-nosed as the men. They take what they can get by seducing a guy, then cutting him off after bleeding him dry. The girls I deal with are smart women of the world, and they would’ve picked my pockets clean after two seconds of being this close to me.

“It’s all right, miss. The police are on their way. They’ll be able to help you.” I pat her shoulder, awkwardly comforting her while trying not to get her clothes dirty.

I’m not sure how long we stand there in that strange tableau. Me, the big Irish bloke who looked like he’d gone ten rounds with a bear, which is close to the truth. The pretty little dame who should’ve never stepped foot on this side of Boston. And Tommy, the dead guy, growing deader and colder every second.

But finally the police arrive and relief sweeps over me. No more offering fake comfort to this woman. I can leave and go soak my bruises. My body’s tightening up on me, unused to going this long without being pampered after a fight.

“What happened here?” The first copper asks as he approaches us.

She quickly transfers her trust to him. “I’m Samantha Smith.”

Immediately, policemen surround her, and I’m pushed aside, unneeded and not nearly as interesting as the possibility of being smiled upon by one of Boston’s reigning society princesses.

Someone calls for the chief to be brought down here Smiling, I edge further from the crowd, hoping to make my getaway without anyone being wiser or remembering I exist. I don’t want to get mixed up in what’s looking like a gossipmonger’s dream. I don’t want to talk to the police for my own private reasons, and I don’t want my name in any paper that might care this murder.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Swearing silently, I freeze, then glace over to my right. My gaze meets a pair of big inquisitive brown eyes, and suddenly I’m aching in an entirely different spot.

Now here is someone I could be bothered with. I don’t like dames who are too fragile and curvy. Give me a strong body with angles and muscles, and I’m a happy man.

I have a couple inches of height on him, being six-one to his five-ten, and I’m broader everywhere, but something in the set of his chin tells me he’s a scrapper, and can probably handle his own in a fight.

Wednesday Works in Progress

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This week’s work in progress is titled Sharp Dressed Man. It’s a short story I’m submitting to MLR Press for their Mixed Tape call. Had to pick an 80s song, and use it as inspiration in some way. My story is about two men who were best friends in high school, then reconnect at their twenty-fifth class reunion. What neither one of them knew was that other had always been in love with him.

Sharp Dressed Man copyright c. 2013 T.A. Chase

Excerpt-

“He’s coming, Daniel.”

Dan held his phone away from his ear as his sister squealed. “Who’s coming where?”

She’d have to forgive him for the question since he was standing in the middle of his flat in London, trying to figure out what he needed to pack and what he could leave behind.

He still didn’t have a place to stay in New York, but he wasn’t really worried about that. He had a few friends there who would let him crash with them until he found an apartment.

The important thing was he had a job doing what he loved, and he wouldn’t have to worry about money. If he was a little lonely? Well, that was his fault. He’d dated a lot of guys since college, but none of them stuck. Or maybe he should say he didn’t stick with any of them.

“James Stanton is coming to the class reunion.” Sandy squealed again, and Dan imagined her jumping up and down like she’d done when they were kids.

He chuckled. “Why are you so excited? From what Mom told me, Jim’s gay. You’re definitely not his type.”

“True, but I’m sure you are, and this would be so romantic. High school best friends meet up later in life, and realize they’ve always been in love with each other. They fall in love again, and live happily ever after.” She sighed.

“My dear Sandy, you’ve been reading too many romance novels again. Life doesn’t happen like that. For all I know, Jim might have a boyfriend or a partner he’s bringing to the reunion. Or maybe he likes big hairy guys wearing leather.”

“Ugh!”

He burst out laughing. “I know. That’s a rather disturbing thought, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.  Mostly I just don’t want to think of James like that.”

“As gay?” Dan spun around in a circle, searching for the one box he knew was going with him. It held all his memories from high school, and he suddenly had the urge to pull them out to look through.

“Oh no. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised when either of you came out. No, I don’t want to think about James with a leather daddy.”

To be honest, Dan didn’t want to think of Jim having a leather daddy or a partner either. He wanted to believe that Jim had waited years for Dan to get his head out of his ass, and come looking for him. Of course, he knew better, but still he could dream.

“And you can’t tell me you want to think James might have a partner,” Sandy called him out on that.

He sighed. “I’m trying not to think about it, Sandy. I can’t wait to see him again, but what if he’s forgotten about me? What if he left Michigan, and pushed me to the back of his mind as just a fond memory of high school?”

After admitting his worse fear to his sister, Dan sat on the floor of his empty flat and frowned. “I’m pathetic, aren’t I?”

“Oh honey, no you aren’t,” Sandy reassured him. “You’re a hopeless romantic just like me, and you can’t help hoping that the man you’ve always loved will love you. You know what? I’ll bet you your entire Fall line, that when you meet up with James at the reunion, you’ll find out he’s been thinking about you since high school.”

Dan thought about it for a second. “All right. And if Jim treats me the same as he did back in high school, or acts like he barely remembers me, I win, and you’ll be giving me Apollo for a year.”

“Apollo?” Sandy sounded like she wasn’t sure about the bet. “How do you know the place you get in New York will let you keep a tortoise? And why would you want Apollo anyway?”

“Because he was mine until I went to college. I want him back.”

Sandy hemmed and hawed for a few minutes, then finally agreed. “All right. We have a bet, and I can’t wait to be the only person in Freeland wearing haute couture designed by her famous brother.”

“You’re an evil woman.” Dan laughed.

“No. Just sure that I’ll win. I don’t know if Mom’s ever told you, but James’ mother always asks about you.”

“That doesn’t prove anything except that Mrs. Stanton is a nice person. We don’t know if Jim ever asks about me.” Dan wasn’t hinting for disagreement or anything. He simply pointed out the truth.

“But he does. Mrs. Stanton told Mom that James asks about you every time they talk, which is why she asks Mom whenever they see each other.”

He could tell she was grinning. He spotted the box with his memorabilia, and reached out to grab it. After tugging it to him, he opened it and grinned when he saw his ZZ Top albums on the top of the pile.

“That doesn’t mean he wants to date me or anything like that. Hell, I don’t know. I thought it was a good idea to go to the reunion, but maybe it’s not. Maybe I should just chalk it all up to a high school, and move on.”

“Don’t you dare do that, Daniel Allen Perkins. Don’t you run away from this. It might be turn out the way you’re imagining, or maybe-just maybe-you’ll get the best surprise ever,” Sandy ordered him.

Closing his eyes, Dan touched the album and took a deep breath. As odd as it sounded, he took courage from it, since it was at a ZZ Top concert where he first realized he loved his best friend, then spend all of senior year trying to make sure Jim didn’t know about it. He hadn’t been worried about being gay or anyone else finding out he was gay.

All he worried about was that Jim would find out about him loving him, and not reciprocating. Dan’s fear was losing Jim as a friend, and yet after graduated, he still did. They went their separate ways, and Dan hadn’t seen Jim in twenty-five years.

It was strange that they’d never been home at the same time, but from the moment Dan got out to California, he immersed himself into college and the fashion world, knowing what he wanted to do from the beginning.

Over the years, he’d heard about Jim thru his mom talking to Jim’s mother. He knew Jim was successful at his accounting job, and that didn’t shock him because Jim always liked numbers. The one thing he listened the hardest for was when his mother talked about Jim’s boyfriends, and hid a burst of relief each time she said that he’d broken up with one.

Wednesday Work in Progress…

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Better late than never…lol

Okay so my snippet for today’s WIP comes from Pray for the Thunder. It’s a short story I’m sending to MLR Press when it’s finished. It’s for their Mixed Tape sub call. 🙂 It’s about two men who were best friends in high school. They drifted apart after graduation, then twenty-five years later, they meet up at their class reunion. 🙂

Pray for the Thunder copyright c. 2013

Excerpt-

His phone rang, he grabbed it then checked the id screen. “Hey Andrea, what do you need?”

Danny winced as his assistant started screaming in his ear. What is it with women screaming in my ear? “Andrea, take a deep breath, and repeat what you just shouted.”

“That red silk you ordered from Singapore hasn’t arrived yet, and we need to get the client’s dress for the BAFTAs.”

He could hear the panic in her voice, and he shook his head. “Andrea, what did I tell you?”

“Not to freak out,” she said.

“Right. The silk will be here in the next day or two. We already have the measurements and the patterns set. As soon as the silk gets here, we can knock that dress out within a day. We still have three weeks before the awards ceremony, and she’s not even in town yet.” Danny tried to soothe Andrea’s fear. “Have we ever missed a deadline?”

“No, but there’s always a first time for it.” Andrea took a breath, and Danny interrupted.

“This won’t be that time, honey. I talked to our supplier, and he told me the fabric shipped out last Tuesday. It takes a week to get to us, so we should be getting it tomorrow or Thursday.” Danny lay back on the floor to stare up at the ceiling. “I will work day and night until the dress is finished, though you know she’d look beautiful in a gunny sack.”

Andrea snorted. “Maybe we could start a new fad.”

Danny laughed. “Only if we get to dress her all the time because she’s the only one in the world who could make a sack look good.”

 “True, and her husband. We could make a gunny sack tuxedo for him.” Andrea sounded like she was starting to calm down slightly.

“I don’t make men’s clothes, though,” Danny pointed out.

“Not that you’re not doing enough all ready, but maybe you should think about looking into designing a new line. There are a lot of guys out there who would kill to have you dress them.” Andrea paused for a second, then continued, “Didn’t last year’s Oscar winner practically beg you to design a suit for this year’s ceremony?”

“Yes, but I told him I like to undress men, not dress them.”

Andrea gasped. “You’re didn’t tell him that?”

Danny rolled his eyes. “Of course I did, Andrea. It’s not like it’s a big secret or anything.”

“I know, but still to just blurt it out like that? How did you know he wouldn’t beat you up or something?”

“Seriously? He’s not going to risk his reputation as a good guy by beating the snot out of me. Anyway he laughed at me, then said if I ever decide to go into men’s clothing, he’d be the first one to endorse it. Also, he’d be willing to walk the runway for me.”

“Then why don’t you do it?”

Danny shrugged, even though she couldn’t see him. “I just haven’t gotten inspired by any guy I’ve met yet.”

“I understand.” Andrea changed the subject, and they talked about other designs for another hour before hanging up.

After that, Danny packed a couple more boxes while listening to GNR, whose record Appetite for Destruction had been the soundtrack for his entire junior and senior year. His favorite song, Sweet Child O’ Mine, was the one song he’d listen to over and over again because it took him back to the most important moment in his life. The instant when he looked over at Jimmy, his best friend, and realized he was in love with him.

He’d never thought about being gay or liking men. It wasn’t anything anyone talked about, aside from teasing and joking about being someone being a fag. Suddenly to have a light blub go off in his head about why he hadn’t been attracted to girls before was like getting hit by lightning. It had thrown him for a loop, though he tried to act like there wasn’t anything different going on. As far as he knew, Jimmy never figured it out.

 Danny headed to bed, knowing he’d probably dream about Jimmy that night like he’d had for most of the twenty-five years since they said good-bye.