It’s hard to be the bard…

So, I’ve got an embarrassment of projects right now–and I’m enjoying them all.

I’m writing the sequel to Beneath the Stain, titled Paint it Black, and it’s sort of grabbed me by the throat and won’t let go and I love it when that happens!

I’m also working on Jai’s story on the side. For those of you who missed the third installment, it showed up on Amber Kell’s blog HERE— this chapter’s from George’s point of view, and that was fun too. George gets a little cheeky here–but only a little. He did, after all, have a rough weekend.

And, I’m gearing up for an edit on my craft book–which I think I’ll start tomorrow. I was going to start it Sunday, but if you saw yesterday’s blog, well, it caught us all by surprise, and I just wasn’t present enough to commit to edits, which are painful by nature.

Writing fiction, though, that’s something I do when I’m hurting, and I slid into Mackey’s world like it was a tub of warm water.

This book is about Cheever and Blake, and one of the things I have to do to make it plausible is release the shorts on Instafreebie–the ones that came out when the book was in serial release, even before the full length book was out. Because as much as Blake protests about, “Nuh-nuh, no gay porn for me!” the fact is, he had feelings for Kell that weren’t all platonic, and he’s grown up some since Stain. 

So much to do–and gear up for ZoomBoy’s birthday, including making the Infinity Mitten (heh heh heh… yeah, doesn’t get old!) for him.

I’m torn about that, too– Chicken and I came up with the idea of having a TRULY awesome gift box–Chicken wrapped it with an Avengers tablecloth and it’s stuffed with tissue paper, and I can either A. Present it to him Friday night, in this box, with a sort of Arc of the Covenant vibe, or I can have it ready for him Friday morning so he can wear it to school.

Maybe it depends on how close to done I am Friday, right?


So lots of stuff to do that I really enjoy.

An embarrassment of riches…

Feels dumb to complain.

So I’ll leave you with this–because it’s hard to be the bard 😉

*  *  *


George Gets Ideas
After literally falling at Jai’s feet as he fished and throwing up stuff he hadn’t eaten yet and wouldn’t eat for another ten years, George slept all Saturday, so grateful for Jai’s cozy tent and egg crate and the water by his elbow that he could have cried if he wasn’t so dehydrated.
Sunday morning he woke up and managed to make it to the portajohn to take a leak and brush his teeth—thanks Jai for the toothbrush, actually. When he got back he collapsed on his sleeping bag, winded and shivering, and Jai wrapped him up in the sleeping bag again.
“More sleep? I am going to have to take you home and I’m not sure what to do with your shitty vehicle.”
George groaned. As much as he loved the way Jai’s big hands felt on his body, tucking him into the warmth of the sleeping bag, he needed to get home. For one thing, Annaliese was only planning to watch his cat, Jingle, until that night. If George wasn’t home by about eight o’clock his cat would have barfed in all his shoes and he might not have a job.
“Let me nap this morning. If I can drink some more broth this afternoon, maybe I can drive home.”
“Going to meet with Harvey and Gary?” Jai asked mockingly, folding his long legs underneath him and pulling out a deck of cards.
“No.” George smirked, because the story of the threesome he wanted no part of was much funnier when Jai put it that way. “But I have a cat who will need me, and I should at least call in sick to my job tomorrow.” Every bone and joint in his body ached. Even if he got home okay, he wasn’t going to be good for work.
Jai grunted and reached into the pocket of his fleece jacket. “Here. I found it in your car and charged it while you slept. You make arrangements for tomorrow, and I can stay with you until around five in the morning. We can break camp and you might not crash your shitty truck and die on the way home.”
George looked at the phone, feeling dumb. “That’s a good idea. Do you have to be somewhere tomorrow?”
Jai grimaced. “Sadly, yes. I was supposed to be back last night, but I called my boss and said I would be late. He told me to take my time, but he and Sonny do not take enough days off as it is.”
George paused in the middle of texting Annaliese about the cat. “That’s sweet. That they’d give you time off, and you don’t want to take it. Doesn’t sound like a boss, it sounds like… you know. A friend.”
Jai shrugged. “Da. I was supposed to be on loan, you see. From my original boss. Ace was racing, and he almost died not killing my boss’s young niece. So I was Ace and Sonny’s reward—I could work on cars, I could help Sonny until Ace was back up. But…” He looked away. “Ace and Sonny were kind. My old boss was not. They couldn’t really pay me, but my old boss… he asked me if I wanted to stay and I said yes.”
“But how do you make a living?” George frowned. Jai wasn’t rich—he drove an old Toyota and his clothes looked second hand or really well worn. But he didn’t seem destitute either.
Another shrug rocked those massive shoulders. “Ace did things—racing mostly—that were not strictly legal to pay me better. He is a good man.”
Fine—I’ll watch your cat and call in sick for you. Are you going to live?
The relief at having a little more time was staggering.
Maybe. I’ll tell you about the stomach flu when I get home.
 “Your friend?” Jai asked, taking the phone away from him and setting it down by his pillow. “She said you don’t have to wreck your shitty truck?”
“Yeah.”  Sleep was weighing on George’s eyes and he was pissed. Talking to Jai was about the most interesting thing he’d done outside of work for years. “Apparently he’s good enough to know one when he sees one,” he mumbled.
“Know what?”  Jai sounded puzzled. George didn’t blame him.
“A good man.”
Jai’s laugh rocked the little tent.  “You are very funny. When you do not feel like death, you will see what a comedian you are.”
But I don’t feel like death. I’m just tired. Maybe when I wake up…
 And sleep.
He woke up a couple hours later feeling like he might be able to stand up, and maybe peek outside the tent. Jai was working at the small camp stove, and as George stumbled up, wearing the moccasins Jai had pulled from the George’s truck and one of the fleece blankets over his shoulders, Jai put a mug of hot chicken broth on the table in front of him without comment.
“God! Afternoon already?”
“Yes. I am sorry—this was not a great vacation for you.”
George took a sip of chicken broth and shuddered in appreciation. “Well, maybe not. But it did help me reassess my priorities,” he said with decision.
“Like making sure someone knows where you are in case you get sick again?” Jai asked, the concern on his broad, stoic face touching.
George took another sip of the broth. “Well… you know. I was thinking.” He tried to smile winningly, although he was aware his blond sandy hair was probably sticking up in sixty-eleven places and Jai was probably sorry he’d ever gone fishing so George could come throw up practically at his feet.
“I am waiting,” Jai said gravely. George looked to see what he was doing for a moment and realized he was making a grilled cheese sandwich.
“That actually looks good,” George said, thinking about it.
“Toast. I shall give you toast. You keep that down, there can be grilled cheese later.”
George smiled a little. As a nurse, that’s exactly what he would have done, but as a patient, he wanted that grilled cheese sandwich now. “You are very wise,” is what he said. “But that has nothing to do with what I was thinking.”
“Which is…”
George took another sip of broth and barreled ahead. “I, uh, I’d like to go camping with you again. Not next weekend—maybe in three weeks? I’ll give you my phone number, you can text and tell me you can make it. We can, you know, aim for this campground, or first one there tells the other one where we are—you know. Like friends.”
Jai’s eyebrows had crept up to where his hairline would be, if he didn’t shave it. “Like friends?”
George started to feel less certain about this whole idea. “Yes.”
“In the same tent.”
George’s heart sank. “Well, if we’re sharing the same campground.”
Jai scowled, and studied the grilled cheese sandwich with undue attention. “Nyet.”
Ouch. “I swear, I’ll look better next time.” George sort of begged him with his eyes to look up. And hoped he had the eyes of someone who could give a really good blowjob, if prompted.
“You look fine now.” Jai waved that concern away like a mosquito. “No, you are very pleasing to look at, and very kind. But if we were to share the same tent, I would want to sleep in the same sleeping bag. And if we shared the same sleeping bag and you did not feel like death, I would want to touch you, and I don’t think that’s what you’re asking.”
George frowned. “That’s funny. I thought that was exactly what I was asking. You bring rubbers, I bring lube—”
“I am on PReP,” Jai said bluntly. “I will bring my latest screening.”
“Me too!” Oh, that was good news. No rubbers! Who didn’t like no rubbers? “Well, I’ll still bring lube—”
“Stop talking.” Jai plopped a nicely grilled piece of toast onto a napkin in front of him, and dished up the grilled cheese for himself. After pouring water for hot chocolate into his own mug, Jai sat down and started stirring the chocolate ruminatively. “You do not have to have sex with me just to thank me,” he said after the chocolate was well and truly dead.
“I don’t want to have sex with you to thank you!” George burst out, thinking this was harder than it had to be. “I want to have sex with you because you are funny and kind and you have these ginormous hands, and I think they’d feel good on my body!”
Jai didn’t say anything but he did roll his eyes.
“And if you were a douchebag, you could have banged me while I felt like death, but you kept me warm instead, and that ticks pretty much all my boxes for ‘Better than any boyfriend I’ve had previously.’”
A tiny smile started at the corner of Jai’s lean mouth. “You have shitty taste in boyfriends. Stop looking at people named Harvey.”
George took an experimental nibble on the toast. “I could do that. Maybe if, I don’t know, I had someone to look forward to, I could leave guys named Harvey and Gary in the dust.”
Jai sighed and took a perfunctory bite of what looked to be a truly awesome grilled cheese. “I am… I am a poor substitute for a real boyfriend.”
Oh. Well, this wasn’t insurmountable. “Well, let’s… you know. Go camping in a month. And… you know. See how it goes. Maybe we can ease into the boyfriend thing. Maybe we can be… camping buddies.”  He really did try for his best smile here, and Jai met his eyes, and his lips curled up a little more so it was worth the effort.
 “Camping buddies,” Jai repeated.
“Yes. Who bring cards and fishing tackle and soup.”
“And lube.”
George bit his lip, thinking he might have won. “And lube.”
Jai rolled his eyes and then concentrated on his grilled cheese. “I will think about it,” he said softly. “But I won’t believe it until you meet me back here.”
George took another bite of toast. “Trust me with your number,” he said, his stomach settling from the nervousness of even making the proposal. “I’ll show you how reliable I can be.”
Jai didn’t answer, but he took another bite of his grilled cheese, and they ate quietly.
Jai cleaned up when they were done and kept the pan of hot water on the burner, in case. “Here,” he said. “I will go get a camp chair for you—”
“Sit next to me,” George said softly. He gestured with his chin. “Look. I’ve got an amazing view of the sunset over the lake from here.
To his great pleasure, Jai did just that, sitting a respectful distance away.
George scooted a little closer, stopping when their thighs touched.
Then he put his head on Jai’s shoulder.
When Jai didn’t do anything, he reached into the big man’s lap and took his ginormous hand into his own two hands, and held it, rubbing the back softly with his thumbs.
The sun went down over the lake in a springtime explosion of lavender and poppy, and both of them caught their breath as the whole thing faded to blue.
George shivered in the cold of the approaching night, and Jai gently disengaged their hands to drape his arm over George’s back.
Oh my God.
George melted into his body heat, almost weeping with the joy of the warmth and the comfort and the solid male smell of this nice man who claimed to be an ex-mobster but should have been a nurse.
“This is good?” Jai asked hesitantly.
“This is perfect,” George sighed. “Please meet me again, so we can do this some more.
Jai shifted, pulling away, and for a moment George was disappointed. Then he turned George a little and George looked into his face, dark against the lingering light of the sky.
“What?” George breathed, but he knew what, and it totally made brushing his teeth that morning worth it.
“Testing,” Jai breathed back, and leaned forward, brushing his lips against George’s. George gave a happy little moan and pushed into the kiss, gently, because he was still sore, and Jai was so big.
Just a little more pressure, and George opened his lips, letting Jai in.
His tongue was nothing much—just a little exploratory, gently questing.
George rubbed it a little with his own, and Jai pulled back, ending the kiss.
“How was it?” George asked, every pulse in his body fluttering with “Please stand by.”
“It was worth coming back for,” Jai whispered, and George went limp against him.
“Good,” he said softly. “Give me your phone. Right now. Before you change your mind.”
Jai chuckled softly but he did what George asked.
George typed in his number with growing excitement in his stomach (which was the best thing his stomach had felt in three days.)  It didn’t matter that they had to wait a month. Waiting a month for a date that George knew was going to be great was so much better than the few shitty dates he would have had in the meantime. As he input his number into Jai’s phone—and then called himself so he would have Jai’s number too—he thought wistfully of the night they’d have together now.
He’d probably sleep the whole time—he was already wiped out.
But maybe, after that kiss, he could sleep in Jai’s arms.
That alone was worth waiting for.

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