Hey all– I’m sort of in the “sleep mode” after GRL, but I do have a couple of adventure stories saved for my next post. In the meantime, Beneath the Stain is out as a complete book from Amazon.com, ARe, and Dreamspinner Press.
For those of you who have been hearing about this book forever, this here is the book as A WHOLE. Not as a serial, not in chunks, just one streamlined (God, I hope) volume.
When I first wrote this book, this format was how I intended it be released. I cut out the extras, because I wanted to tell an epic story, but I didn’t want to lose people. When I pitched this story to Lynn West, this was the story arc, to the last T, that I wanted people to see.
I know people have loved the serial, but even the people who loved the bonus scenes the most wanted to see what it would be like to read about Mackey and Trav from beginning to end.
Here’s your chance folks– enjoy!
I’ll be back on Thursday with my travel stories. Yeah, I’ve got a few!
In the meantime–
BENEATH THE STAIN
Beneath the Stain on Amazon
Beneath the Stain on Dreamspinner Press
Beneath the Stain on ARe
In a town as small as Tyson, CA, everybody knew the four brothers with the four different fathers—and their penchant for making good music when they weren’t getting into trouble. For Mackey Sanders, playing in Outbreak Monkey with his brothers and their friends—especially Grant Adams—made Tyson bearable. But Grant has plans for getting Mackey and the Sanders boys out of Tyson, even if that means staying behind.
Between the heartbreak of leaving Grant and the terrifying, glamorous life of rock stardom, Mackey is adrift and sinking fast. When he’s hit rock bottom, Trav Ford shows up, courtesy of their record company and a producer who wants to see what Mackey can do if he doesn’t flame out first. But cleaning up his act means coming clean about Grant, and that’s not easy to do or say. Mackey might make it with Trav’s help—but Trav’s not sure he’s going to survive falling in love with Mackey.
Mackey James Sanders comes with a whole lot of messy, painful baggage, and law-and-order Trav doesn’t do messy or painful. And just when Trav thinks they may have mastered every demon in Mackey’s past, the biggest, baddest demon of all comes knocking.
Beneath the Stain on Amazon
Beneath the Stain on Dreamspinner Press
Beneath the Stain on ARe
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
… from the Mighty Hunter Gazette—April 20
And special news, our very own homegrown band, Outbreak Monkey, will be performing a six-song set between D.J. Boomer’s dance music at the Graham Winters High School prom. The band, headed by McKay “Mackey” Sanders on lead vocals, Jeff Sanders on bass and their brother Kell Sanders on lead guitar, also features Grant Adams on second lead and Stevie Harris on drum set. All members are Graham Winters High School students and we are proud to have them play!
THE FIRST time McKay Sanders kissed his brother’s best friend, Grant, they were getting high in a burned-out car in the field behind Mackey’s apartment building. Kellogg, who looked old enough to buy even though he’d just turned eighteen, had spent ten dollars the brothers didn’t have on cheap Muscat. By the time Grant—whose father had money—brought out the pot, Kellogg, Jefferson, and Stevie were passed out on the old camp blanket Stevie had brought from his dad’s garage.
It was a celebration, of sorts, for landing the prom gig.
The older kids had hogged all the Muscat, though, and Mackey felt left out. Kellogg kept saying it wasn’t right to get his little brother drunk, and Mackey kept saying it wasn’t right to drink in front of him, but by the time Kellogg was too drunk to argue, there wasn’t any wine left.
Jefferson and Stevie had finished off the other bottle all by themselves—just sitting quietly, not making any waves like they usually did, passing the bottle between them.
“Boy, you two argue a lot,” Grant said after Kell let out a gut-buster of a yawn and fell asleep quick as a baby.
Mackey grunted and prodded at his older brother with his toe. The three brothers present looked nothing alike. Kell was built like a tank, with rounded shoulders, a brown-eyed glare, and plain brown hair that he buzz-cut short to his scalp. He was like born practicality, which was why hoarding the wine rankled Mackey so badly. An expenditure like that wasn’t going to happen again.
“He gets mad,” Mackey said, letting out a sigh. He slouched back inside the shelter of the car, peering through the doorframe at the iron gray sky. “He’s the one who takes care of us, you know? But not in the band.”
It was true.
Kell could play guitar ably enough, but Mackey….
“You can play everything,” Grant said with admiration. “You’re the one who puts the songs together, figures out who should be playing what. And the shit you write on your own….”
Mackey smiled at him a little shyly. Grant had the most interesting face, with a long, straight nose, full pink lips, and almond-shaped hazel eyes. When Grant looked at him with admiration, it stopped his breath and pulled rubber bands in his stomach. “I just….” He stopped because Grant was reaching into his pocket, and he pulled out a baggie full of weed and papers. “Ooh….”
Grant looked down at the other three, who were sleeping soundly in the late afternoon chill. “I was gonna share,” he said mischievously, “but Kell was a dick about the wine, so I thought you and me?” Mackey nodded, captivated by the thrill of the forbidden—and by the way that cherry-ripe mouth pulled up at the corners when Grant smiled.
“I’ve never, uhm….”
Grant shrugged. “Me and Kell do sometimes. But, you know, Kell’s usually a good guy.”
Mackey reflected on his sleeping brother. Kell was a good guy. For example, Mackey had a confused memory of their youngest brother Cheever’s dad, the one dad they thought would stick around beyond giving the baby a first name. Cheever’s dad hadn’t been very patient, and he’d hated Mackey. Well, Mackey was sort of a smartass. He’d probably had that fist coming. But that hadn’t stopped Kell from stepping up and hitting Enos Cheever right back. Mackey and Kell had both needed stitches after that, but their mom had kicked Enos Cheever out—child support or no child support. That was okay. Kell and Jeff had been almost old enough to work by then. They’d only needed assistance for a couple of months.
“He doesn’t like it that I can boss him around,” Mackey said glumly. “He… he’s the leader, right? But… but I hear the music, and it just makes sense, you know? And… and you can’t do it wrong just ’cause it’ll hurt Kell’s feelings. It’s augh!” He was waving his hands around, trying to find words, which was funny, because Mackey actually wrote songs. He closed his eyes, ignoring Grant rolling a number, and tried to make a song out of it.
“He wants to keep me happy and he wants to keep me fed, he makes sure that I’ve got blankets and a place to sleep in a bed, but the music in my heart is like a freight train. It goes and it goes and when I stop it, it’s like pain, but my brother doesn’t see it doesn’t hear it doesn’t feel it, and all there is to do is shove him out of the way. Don’t want to hit my brother with the freight train.”
Mackey’s eyes smarted, because the friction with Kell hurt. They were tight. They had to be tight, because Tyson, California, had a population of ten thousand, and it was a small enough town that the woman with the four sons and four fathers was sort of famous. They had to have each other’s backs or Cheever wouldn’t have survived kindergarten.
Mackey blinked and took a deep breath, then coughed.
Damn, pot was strong.
He gazed at Grant, who was staring back in awe over the glowing ember of the joint. Grant held the smoke for a minute and exhaled, shaking his head. “God, it’s gorgeous when you do that,” he said, his voice choked.
“Do what?” Mackey asked, not able to stop staring at him.
“Pull music out of the air,” Grant said, the dreamy smile on his full lips maybe a side effect of the pot, but maybe not. Grant was sitting in the back of the car, his feet at the foot of the blanket the others were sleeping on. He passed Mackey the doobie around the doorframe, and Mackey regarded the joint with a little bit of fear.
“Just inhale?” he asked nervously, and Grant grinned.
“Never done this before?” he confirmed, taking the doobie back.
Mackey shook his head, knowing his face was flushing in spite of the iron mountain chill.
“Here,” Grant murmured, taking another hit. He stood up, still holding the smoke in his lungs, and knelt in front of Mackey, so close their lips almost brushed. Mackey’s mouth fell open, because, holy God, Grant was right there, and Mackey had been trying not to look at him like he had wanted him right there since he was twelve years old.
Grant took his open mouth for invitation and exhaled, right between Mackey’s parted lips.
Mackey’s inhale was so gentle, the smoke hardly tickled. He didn’t choke or cough like he’d seen other people do, just breathed in subtle-like, afraid to startle Grant or make him move in any way. His exhale was even quieter, letting the smoke trickle out through his lips and his nose, where it stung.
He swallowed, his mouth dry from the smoke and from the way Grant was staring at him, seemingly as mesmerized as he was by those golden eyes and moist red mouth. “How’s Sam?” he asked, because Samantha Peters had been Grant’s shadow for the past year.
“Not here,” Grant whispered, and the movement made their lips touch.
Mackey closed his eyes, because Grant started this, and Mackey was fourteen to his seventeen. Grant would know what to do.
Grant’s lips on his were whisper-soft, then angel-soft, then Grant’s tongue swept into his mouth, acrid with the bitter taste of weed, but something in it was sweet. Something in it made Mackey open his mouth to beg for more.
Grant took advantage, pushing him back against the seat, taking his mouth more, and more and more, until Mackey was pressed against the burned-out seat frame, his hands buried in the thick top strip of Grant’s hair, his lips being bruised and his mouth plundered by his brother’s best friend.
The smell of pot smoke sharpened, turned plastic, and Grant jerked his head back.
“Shit,” he muttered. The joint had fallen onto the blanket at their feet, and he spent a moment stomping it out as it smoldered. When he’d killed the ember, he glanced at Mackey sheepishly.
“Got lost in your eyes,” he said, and Mackey watched curiously as two red crescents surfaced on his sharp cheekbones, like disappearing ink coming to life.
“I could get lost in you a lot,” Mackey confessed, feeling brave and bold, and Grant found something to look at far away.
“Mackey, maybe don’t count on me like that, okay?”
Mackey had to search far away too. Well, of course, right? Two guys get high and they do something crazy—didn’t mean shit, did it.
Didn’t mean a goddamned thing. “Yeah, well. You know. Strong weed, right?”
“Yeah,” Grant murmured. “Strong.” His hand was firm on Mackey’s shoulder then, and Mackey closed his eyes as he felt the rasp of Grant’s chilled palm against his cheek. “Stronger’n shame.”
Mackey had to. Had to see his face.
Grant was blinking hard, and they both knew he’d deny it, but one hit of pot didn’t give you eyeballs that red.
At their feet, Kell gave a moan and rolled over, and that was the cue for everyone to wake up. They were headachy and sick, and it was lucky Grant had brought a six-pack of water, of all things, so they could at least rinse out their mouths after they puked.
Grant had driven them out to the vacant field in his mom’s minivan, and later that evening, he stopped and let them run inside the grocery store to buy noodles and spaghetti sauce for dinner. They’d promised their mom they’d take care of groceries if she let them get away with not watching Cheever for the afternoon. When they got to the Sanders boys’ apartment complex, Grant and Kell were giving each other shit in the front seat. Mackey stared out the window and let their banter wash over him, just like he ignored Jefferson and Stevie talking in quiet undertones about comic books and naked girl pictures. Jeff and Kell had best friends. Mackey had brothers—six of them, if he counted Cheever’s little friend Kevin, which he did.
“So, is Sam excited you get to play at the prom?” Kell asked, laughing.
“Yeah,” Grant said. For a moment he caught Mackey’s gaze in the rearview, and then he glanced back toward the road. “She wants to dress pretty and dance with me in a suit.”
Mackey didn’t make a noise or anything, but suddenly he knew, knew like it had been branded on his skin, that Grant didn’t want to dance with a girl in a dress. And that it would hurt worse than orange juice on chapped lips, but Mackey was going to have to watch him do it.