Friday, May 24, 2013

When the Muse strikes, LOOK OUT! ... (oh, and I saw Star Trek.)

Typically, I do not write very many words a day. I read somewhere that Stephen King shots for like 1500. For me, that IS doable, yet unlikely to remain consistent. I struggle with time. Time is often my enemy. I feel run down and run ragged and when I feel inspired I look around only to realize I haven't showered in four days and I should do that instead. Then, as always, time eludes me again and nothing in my head makes it onto paper.

For a while that really has been the case. It's like my life is set up on a tread mill and all I do is walk faster and faster but I don't go anywhere. Do you (out there) feel like that? Kind of rhetorical since I have the feeling most people would say yes. Life is like a treadmill. Buffy says, "Life's a show and we all play our parts, and when the music starts, we open up our hearts..." (Season 6, ep 7) Or life is seen as a stage and we are merely players. Whatever metaphor you use it is basically the same and sometimes it is monotonously overwhelming.

Right? I know you get me. So, yeah, for a while the "muse" (as they say) was silent. The I got the first round of edits of TCOL and low and behold Darian's voice showed up inside my head. I need Darian's voice inside my head because it whispers to me of his past and his trials and I think it is an important story to tell as well as a good culmination of a painful trilogy. And funny, as I typed "culmination" I actually had to look it up to see if it was what I meant to say. Sometimes I'm not so good with definitions. Merriam-Webster is on my toolbar (and so is Twitter, my Blog, Google, Facebook, Goodreads, a tab for "Reptiles", a tab for Writing, Amazon, and some others.) So when I looked it up, I think I like the synonym "crescendo" better. I WANT Darian's last word to be a magnum opus. Does that make sense? And because I expect so much out of myself, I am second guessing everything, and when I read it I think it is boring. I think it will not give Darian the credit he is due. I've basically talked myself out of writing it. Does that mean I've stopped? No. Don't freak out on me. I AM writing it, but I fear I am building it up in my mind and I will only fail myself and all of you. Still, I forge on and write one sentence at a time. He is still talking to me. And I am still writing what I think he wants to say.

But I am also hearing other voices... I find it interesting to see how far I have come. My personal editor (not DSP's editor) has told me she is proud how far I've come since she met me. I used to write in passive voice all the time. I use to write the wrong words WAY more often. Like defiantly instead of definitely. I have always sucked at grammar and I hope to overcome that in the fall when I take my class on Modern English Grammar at the Community College. The most interesting thing for me right now is that I have multiple voices talking to me about completely different stories and I can distinguish the difference. There used to be a time when I could not read ANY OTHER BOOK or think of any other character besides the one I was writing. One book at a time, please. But now, my mind is accepting the challenge of hearing Darian, writing Darian, while at the same time I hear a new voice wanting to be heard. At the moment I'm calling him Avery. I'm not completely sold on the name Avery, but the more I write him the more I like it. (I'll blog about that story next week when I have more info to go on.) So I hear Dare, and Avery, and then I saw Star Trek yesterday and it got me thinking about another story I've been tinkering with for a couple years: MY STORY.

How does Star Trek tie in with ME? lol, long story. But I've been thinking about the trials I have been through personally and writing a book about ME (generally) has been on my mind since around 2010. In the beginning of that year I was chatting with a friend named Mark. Some of you may have known Mark Bowne, and I dedicated WLINE to him because he was a wonderful man. He was supportive and gracious and inspiring at times. We spoke online about an idea I had about writing a book about ME and my views on faith, religion, loving unconditionally, homosexuality, persecution, hope, despair,  depression, perseverance, and how to keep going on in a world that seems to harsh and hatful sometimes. I told him I wanted to call it "Tales of a closeted Christian", but since then I think "The Pain of Transparency" is more appropriate to what I want to say. Because really, I tend to be a pretty "transparent" person most of the time in real life. In 2010 that kind of openness screwed me and my therapist suggested I learn to rein in my tendency to open up to every person I meet. And boy did I! I shut down and didn't open up to anyone for YEARS! Being hurt does that. But Mark seemed to think my story was relevant and that others might benefit from hearing my point of view. I started it then, but hadn't written very much. Maybe 5000 words. Yesterday I was inspired to write more. 1300. It felt good. What I think I might accomplish with that one is to piss everyone off at the same time. hahhaa. IDK. But since it is about ME, and I have a tendency to be really blunt these days, I say why not? If I piss people off it is a valid emotion. Anger is strong. If I write something that makes you think so much you hate my words then you will not easily forget me. Right? IDK, we'll see. It's a WIP. But alfter that longwinded tangent I never answered my own question. Star Trek doesn't really have to do with ME, but it was a text I get from a friend after seeing the movie that gripped me with the need to write about myself in relation to his text. That's all. And you would have to be in my head to understand, so yeah, just roll with it. I know I'm hard to follow.

As far as Star Trek goes, I liked it. I think I liked the first one better. It was fresh and new and we got to see how it brought all the original elements of Star Trek into a new story. I loved it! What I didn't like was some missing elements. They breeze over the Klingons and I was left hanging. I didn't like it. Yes, It could be a setup for #3, but still annoyed me. And I think the envelopment with the Admiral was glossed over too quickly and almost seemed far fetched. And Kahn, although the actor did a stupendous job, I think his character needed fleshing out. His backstory wasn't filled in and he lost his validation as evil dude. My opinions. But I liked it!

I guess that's all for now. And as I told someone today--and loved the way I said it--I'm nothing special, just a writer struggling to create tears on a page.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Dumb Jock.

I'm kidding... Ellis is far from being a dumb jock. lol. But interesting titles often catch people's eyes when looking for a blog to read and as I am always looking for readers to add to the existing 20, I try hard to come up with catchy titles. ;p

So, this blog is about some recent reviews of My Roommate's a Jock? Well, Crap! because we can't forget my most popular read. Jock has had 5X the success of WLINE (When Love is Not Enough). Jock is the crowd pleaser and the HEA everybody likes to read. Because of which I SHALL be writing more fun-loving tales of romance. Not everything has to be deep and angsty and intertwined with controversy etc... Goal this year: Write another humorous novel!

In the meantime, read Jock if you haven't or recommend it around. Below are the most recent review from You'll notice that one of them is someone who doesn't like it. I'm okay with that. People have different opinions. I write what I write and part of being successful is learning how to take the good with the bad. I WOULD LOVE to be a successful writer! I have read things over the years that I don't particularly enjoy, and apparently some readers of MY stories feel the same. I have a certain style of writing that comes out of ME and it is the way I think and talk and construct my sentences. Some readers don't like it. But, on the other hand, I'm not changing to fit into a mold or into what some may want. I am me. An acquired taste, if you will. I hope to improve my writing and improve my skills, but I hope always to retain my flare for emotion and controversy and quirk. I'm coining the phrase, "Doing it Wade Kelly style."

I'm still writing. Book 3 is difficult. It is a very complex story structure that I need to get correct. Being a 3rd book of a trilogy demands thought and consideration of each scene. I'm doing me best.


5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant love story for modern timesMay 18, 2013

This review is from: My Roommate's a Jock? Well, Crap! (Kindle Edition)
At the risk of sounding like an idiot, this book made me believe in falling in love again. The characters had true emotions. Self pity, angst, fear, humor, and everything else. I found myself so in love with El and Cole! I never wanted this beautiful story to end. Some grammar errors made it tough to concentrate but I feel better about me and my shot at finding love!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about new relationshipsMay 11, 2013

This review is from: My Roommate's a Jock? Well, Crap! (Kindle Edition)
This book is very well written. I felt like I connected with the characters all the way through. The budding relationship and the challenges they faced are so true to life that I could really sympathize.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Dumb Nerd/Jock StoryMay 11, 2013

Could have been a very nice story but the main character "Cole" is so anal retentive that after 20 or 30 pages I disliked him - a lot!! I kept reading because I thought the story could have merit (despite the ugly title). The secondary characters acted more like silly 12 year olds than the young college men they were supposed to be. I won't be buying anymore of Kelly's books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story - serious issues but elements of humourMay 2, 2013

This review is from: My Roommate's a Jock? Well, Crap! (Kindle Edition)
I liked this book due to the story line and the way it addresses serious issues but with elements of humour.

Cole was annoying but endearing, Ellis was a thoughtful jock and their friends and family were an interesting mix. Mike was a bit of a surprise (can't say why as it's a spoiler!)perhaps his character was a bit over the top?

I loved the chapter headings and there were some humourous lines. But my favourite section was Rob's view on his friend's relationship. "I don't think sin is as black and white as people want it to be. I think sin comes in an array of colors, and one of them is so bright that it blinds us to our ability to love. And if I don't think I can love you just because you're gay, then Satan wins; because without love, the only color left is hate."
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully writtenApril 27, 2013

This story is one that makes a person really believe in love again. I loved the characters and the plot. I highly recommend reading and will look for more from this author.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Dreamspinner Rocks!

Hi, I hope it's okay to blog about this. I got this in e-mail from the goodreads group but I imagine they sent the post other places. :s IDK. But you know I had to blog about it, because MY NAME is mentioned! whooohoo. So, yeah, if you haven't already, go buy MY BOOK (S)  while they are on sale. YAY!

GO DREAMSPINNER!  Happy Sexy Six Years!

From May 20-27, all books (including in stock paperbacks) by the authors who signed with us in our fifth year of business will be discounted 25%. Those authors include Alex AlderPerry AmbroseShira AnthonyVictor J. BanisJ.P. BarnabyAnne BarwellK.C. BeaumontHeidi BelleauAnna Birmingham,T.C. BlueAna BoschLara BrukzKC BurnRena ButlerEllis CarringtonG N ChevalierNick ChiversRebecca CohenDavid ConnorMichael G. CorneliusRobert CummingsCarole CummingsEon de BeaumontPoppy DennisonJohnny DiazA. Soo DonimE.S. DouglasJana DownsCharles EdwardBell EllisThursday EuclidTheo FenravenTia FieldingKim FieldingRhys FordBrandon FoxElizabella GoldJohn GoodeElinor GrayR.G. GreenJeanette GreyLiam GreyM.D. GrimmJM GryffynJ. Tullos HennigEllen HolidayJC HollyJohn InmanLee JamesRobert JamesK.J. Johnson,Lissa KaseyChris T. KatAnnie KayeG.P. KeithWade KellyJuan KenobiZee KensingtonKevaDAlex KidwellEvie KielsTJ KluneMonika KrasnoradaSusan LaineTara LarsonLaura LeeM. LeeJamie LoweMaltheaEdmond ManningWayne MansfieldZ.B. MarshallAnna MartinDonna MclntoshSean MichaelC.L. MilesE E MontgomeryApril MooneLydia NyxEve OcotilloJeremy PackH.B. PattskynMal PetersCharlotte Rahn-Lee,Eric RennerSpencer RookRodney RossBrian RoweClaire RussettAnn T. RyanCecilia RyanJerry SacherCarly SafkoRobin SaxonRiley Shane,Meredith ShayneP.D. SingerSam SingerDany SireneB. SnowAda Mario SotoChristianna SpencerMichael St. AnthonyLeora StarkB.A. Stretke,Damon SuedeCindy SutherlandLou SylvreAnne TeninoB. TinsleyTokiMelanie TushmoreLorraine UlrichPiper VaughnDeShaun WalkerLacey WallaceAlex WhitehallAdrienne WilderKristen Wyatt, and Xara X. Xanakas.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Music, Boasting, and updates on TCOL

Hello all you wonderful readers out there! How are you? I am grand.
I just send back the "first round of edits" to DSP's editorial department. Whoohoo! What does that mean? I have no idea. All I know is that the manuscript goes through stages. First, it has to make it's way to the top of the editor's to-do pile. (I guess.) Then, it is in the active stage of editing. (This occured on May 1st.) One editor goes through it and makes track changes, suggestions, and comments. Then, they send it to me. I got mine on May 5th and had until yesterday to send it back with changes. Let me tell you... The MS for TCOL is over 114k. It is long. (WLINE was like 97k) I'd say I went through it once over the weekend but that isn't accurate. I went back and forth checking details. First I read the "global notes" as they called them. Then I breezed through the first section and got overwhelmed with the corrections and had to stop. (And I am filling you in on details that maybe you don't care about, but for those who are inspiring authors, this is pertinent information for the future of your career.) There is nothing like reading some comments about the issues that need to be addressed in one's manuscript to take the wind out of the old sails.

Luckily, TCOL is long. Because of this, the editorial department broke the MS into two parts. (An awesome idea, if I may compliment them.) It is not like I have to read the story from A to B. I know what happens. I wrote it. So, being that I could not think so deeply about the first half and the stuff that needed changing, I skipped it. I opened Part 2. Things go way smoother when you start with the easy stuff. At least for me. Some people like to get the hard stuff out of the way first. For me, it was scary and depressing. Mainly, because as you read, you only see like half a page at a time on the computer screen. I couldn't tell if the comments got worse unless I kept going and found them. Skipping to part 2 where the comments were about "comma splices" was waaaaay easy. I could handle that. And so you all know, I'm not whining, I'm putting information out there for others incase it is important to what they might go through. I'm saying, if some parts are hard, skip to the easy stuff. Hitting the "accept" button on comments about changing the word "just" and deleting the word "that" are much easier even if they are tedious. (And I use the word THAT way too much. Sorry. I'll try harder next time.) Then I went back to Part 1 and you know what I found? It wasn't that bad. I was letting my anxiety get the best of me. The comments about changing things made more sense then when I read then the first time. It is all for clarity. And when an editor can't figure out your meaning, then chances are the read won't either. So, I went through and fixed everything. I had some changes of my own to add that they missed. (It helps to read through it slowly.) And I changed then end. Again. I didn't cry, but it was very intense to read through it. The last thing I did was reread from the beginning and pay attention to details and punctuation. I found a couple things I wanted to fix. I did this yesterday. Note to authors-- DO NOT FOLLOW MY EXAMPLE. Rereading the MS the day it is DUE is not a good idea. I should have started that last reread the day before, or sooner. 114k took me 17 hours to read. I was exhausted and my eyes were dry as dirt. DO NOT wait until the last day.

Anyway... If you'll indulge me... I have a few of the editor's notes to share. (And a playlist. And an excerpt.) The global notes included the commentary from the first editor. She said, "Although there is probably enough information for the reader to make sense of the story without having read the previous book, (When Love Is Not Enough) it would greatly enhance their understanding and appreciation if they had. This novel deals with some intense issues of religion, intolerance, guilt, addiction, self-harm, family dynamics, and mental problems. In large, it does so with sincerity and realism, delving deeply into the character of the family members and showing how this leads to their reactions. Many stories deal with accepting families or families that simply throw their gay child/sibling out, but this novel shows us a loving family struggling to come to terms and fit the gay member of the family into their lives in a new way. No quick and easy fixes here, but a long period of soul-searching and attempting to understand, which I found to be deeply compelling. Of course, the heart of the story is the relationship between Matt and Darian. Each has a lot to learn about themselves and each other following their headlong crash into each other after Jamie’s suicide. Both of them make mistakes and get things wrong, and Darian has serious emotional issues that will ultimately have to be addressed. Matt has a lot of maturing to do, but his growing love—as opposed to simply lust—for Darian helps him along the path. Jamie’s father, who genuinely loves Darian and wants what is best for him, makes mistakes as well, unwilling or unable to get past the death of his son and the idea of Darian moving on. Each character struggles to look beyond their own needs and perceptions to truly see the others and what their needs may be. The journey for the reader is emotionally demanding but well worth the trip."

Made my day. So this is what you are in for!

As MUSIC normally inspires me to write, I made a playlist for TCOL. (Let me know if you can't read the song titles in the picture.)

And to further "tease" the audience, here is an excerpt. (Although for many you have read it.)
Enjoy. And be sure to return to my blog now and again to see what else is going on. Laterz!

I feel him enter my body and everything else drains away. I’m no longer me. I become the pliable embodiment of orgasmic rapture when he sinks impossibly deep inside and touches those spots that never knew pleasure before. His titillating touch transforms me into a wanton beast of insatiable lust, and I’ve never felt as ravenous as I do in his arms.
It frightens me—this unquenchable desire. What will I become when the thunderous throes of gratification end and I’m simply left with a hollow heart?
I have no answer.

September 2010

Chapter 1
September 28, 2010
Teetering on the verge of an anxiety attack, Matthias Dixon drove to work with his brain on autopilot. His nerves were shot—not because his best friend, Jimmy, affectionately known as “Jamie”, died last week; not because he came out to his entire church congregation and faced possible excommunication; not because he feared confrontation from his family; and certainly not because he didn’t want to be gay. Matt drove to the fire station Tuesday morning practically hyperventilating and shaking in his skin because he had to step back into his everyday routine and leave one very important piece of himself at home in his bed: Darian Weston.
Inexplicably, Matt could not function without holding Darian.
What the fuck is wrong with me? Matt thought for the thousandth time.
He’d only just met Darian last Wednesday. Any sane person would not become attached to another person so quickly… would they? Maybe that was the reason. Matt was insane! He could believe it. It had been an extremely difficult week, full of high emotion and stress. Watching as Jamie’s casket was lowered into the ground almost did him in. That is, until he saw Darian completely break down.
Matt had been standing there drowning in his own sorrow as the pastor spoke a few last words; but when Darian crumpled to the earth sobbing, Matt felt his inner Legolas—his champion—take over. He couldn’t let Darian suffer alone. He had to go to him and comfort him—protect him. Darian’s heart was broken. Jamie would want Matt to take care of him.
Matt could easily rationalize his actions with the facts: (1) Darian had been Jamie’s fiancé; (2) Jamie had loved Darian; (3) Matt had been Jamie’s best friend; and (4) Darian was Matt’s last physical link to Jamie. Conclusion: Matt needed to care for Darian.
The only complication was sex.
Matt had had sex with Darian. Lots of sex! Darian was like a drug, and Matt’s senses craved more with every touch. Matt knew it was wrong to swoop in on Jamie’s territory so soon after his death, but it had happened accidentally. At least he kept telling himself that. The first few times could be attributed to bad judgment, but the last few… several… several several… times could not be blown off as “accidental”. Even after Matt knew who Darian was, he still went back for more and unabashedly fucked him without restraint.
As he drove to work, Matt tried to clear his mind. Who was he kidding? He was intoxicated by a living opiate, and there was no twelve-step program to cure him.
Staind came on the radio, and Matt sang along. When the chorus played, he got the eerie impression the song was written for him. “I can’t live without, all I think about, all I want is you….”
It was all so true.
For the second time in his life, Matt’s hands shook. He turned the corner onto Main Street and thought back to the day he had heard of Jamie’s death and his hands quaked uncontrollably for several minutes. He wasn’t able to control his nerves then, and now it was happening again only for different reasons. At the red light, he groped under the seat for the crumpled brown bag he remembered from three weeks ago. He inhaled the stench of greasy burgers in a desperate attempt to control his breathing. When the light turned green, he flung the useless bag to the floor. He didn’t need a fucking bag! He couldn’t breathe because he missed Darian’s scent. He couldn’t think because he missed Darian’s voice. Even the steering wheel felt unbearably ridged because his fingers craved Darian’s smooth skin.
Matt always brushed his teeth after he ate, but he purposely did not after he and Darian made love before he left. Made love? Matt never thought he’d use that phrase in a million years! Except with Darian, it was way more than fucking. Matt wanted to savor Darian like a French delicacy or a fine wine. He wanted to nibble at his skin and devour his essence. Matt needed to taste Darian as long as he could throughout the morning, which is why he hadn’t brushed his teeth.
He moved his tongue around in his mouth. The taste was still there—Darian’s salty and tangy, yet slightly sweet, flavor lingered. Matt smiled thinking about the cum he’d resisted swallowing because he wanted to share the ambrosia with his lover.
Darian liked it. He actually liked it when Matt gathered Darian’s cum in his mouth and then kissed him deep and long, allowing the thick fluid to coat their kiss and saturate it until they could no longer breathe and were forced apart. He’d done it twice now, and Darian didn’t mind. Matt was ecstatic.
This was why the sex complicated matters. Matt knew he needed to comfort Darian. They should be focused on helping one another get over the loss of Jamie. They’d even talked about it. Being together wasn’t supposed to be about sex, but rather about mutual need and their link to Jamie. Only… Matt’s body conflicted with his sensibilities and wouldn’t accept that stipulation. Every time he got near Darian’s exquisite, lithe form, Matt yearned to do things to it. Kinky things.
In his experience, some guys liked kinky sex—snowballing, chocolate and vanilla, champagne enemas, bondage, toys, and the like. Matt had even participated in such behaviors before, but never had he enjoyed anything as much as being with Darian. He enjoyed sharing cum-filled kisses after breakfast, so he hoped Darian would be willing to try some things with him in the future. Just the thought of kink was making Matt hard—Darian strapped in a sling, Matt fucking his mouth, stretching his lips wide, his throat swallowing Matt’s erection. Matt imagined feeling the ball of Darian’s tongue piercing, sliding along the length of his hard cock.
“Shit!” Matt exclaimed as he rounded the curve in the road and almost ran over a groundhog. He swerved to avoid the rodent and left tire marks over the double yellow line.
He panted and refocused his attention on the road instead of his heated groin.
“Note to self,” he mused aloud, “do not think of Darian’s tongue while driving.”
Matt shook his head and grinned. There was no way he could go a few minutes and not think of Darian’s tongue. Or his hands, his lips, his ass…. Fuck, Matt couldn’t even keep Darian’s toes out of his mind! This morning he’d sucked them. Sucked his fucking toes! That was a first for sure. Never in his life had Matt imagined sucking on a guy’s toes and finding it erotic. But it was. Everything about Darian was erotic.
Matt’s mouth watered. He yearned to taste all of Darian’s skin, toes included. Matt wanted nothing more than to take a week off and lick Darian until his saliva glands stopped working. Except… Matt could not take more time off work. He had taken too much time off already.
Jamie was not immediate family. No matter how close they were, it was still against company policy to request time off due to the death of a close friend. Matt was obligated to work his shifts at the station, and his friends could only switch shifts so many times.
Mr. Walsh, the boss at his second job, understood, but even he could only accommodate Matt so long or business would suffer. Matt wasn’t a kid any more. Work was work, and he had responsibilities.
Matt turned the corner of the next street and pulled into the parking lot of the fire station. He turned the engine off and sat for a few minutes. Tuesday. This was his first day back to work since he openly admitted his sexual preference in church on Sunday, two days ago. Matt ran his shaking hand over his buzzed hair. This was the moment of truth. Did gossip travel faster than smoke and fire? He was about to find out.
“Hey, man,” Jason greeted him with a smile as he entered the side door.
At least Jason seems to be acting normal. Maybe he hasn’t heard yet?
“Listen, I’m sorry I didn’t make it to your church on Sunday like I promised,” Jason explained. He’d always been a thoughtful friend, and Matt appreciated his sincerity. “My wife wanted to see our friends’ baby get baptized. We went to their church and then their house afterwards.”
“That’s cool. You didn’t miss much.” Except the part where I came out. Matt shrugged casually, masking the fact his insides were squirming as if he’d eaten ten frozen burritos and then jogged all the way to work. “I’m just glad you could make it to the funeral. It means a lot.” Matt could fake nonchalance—he had years of practice. Besides, Jason’s presence really did mean a lot, so it wasn’t like Matt was lying.
“Yeah, me too.” Jason nodded as he and Matt walked over to the cubbies where their gear was stowed. Jason shuffled things around as they talked. “Again, I’m sorry about Jimmy. He was a great guy. Well, I mean, he seemed to be a great guy from the few times he hung out with us. He didn’t talk about himself much. He was funny, but private. Ya know? I don’t think he ever mentioned a girlfriend, either. Did he have one? I don’t remember seeing a girlfriend at the funeral.”
“No, no girlfriend.” Matt felt a cold streak shoot up his spine. He took a brand-new flashlight out of the box and put the batteries in. He wished they had lockers. Lots of fire stations had lockers for the men. Things wouldn’t walk off so easily that way! But the Chief was not in a hurry to replace “the system” as he referred to it. He liked everything open and quickly accessible. Plus, there wasn’t any money in the budget to revamp the place right now. In February, part of the rec hall caught fire, and their building had to undergo major repairs. Luckily, all the damage was in the rear of the building, and business could go on as usual from the front. Matt’s other flashlight “magically” disappeared two weeks ago, but it gave him the excuse to order a better one. This Pelican StealthLite was pretty sweet!
As Jason tinkered with his own things, he continued the conversation. “And who was that guy who started bawling at the grave site? I couldn’t hear what he was saying. Me and Anna were standing in the back. She thought maybe he was a brother or something?”
Matt’s stomach flipped. Suddenly, he wished he had eaten burritos for breakfast because then he would have an incontestable excuse if he ran to the toilet. He knew he could lie to Jason, but what was the point? I’m the one who came out to my fucking congregation! If he was nervous about the truth, he should have guarded it more closely over the weekend. Matt tried to keep his voice steady as he responded.
“The correct phrasing is ‘Anna and I’,” he ragged. Matt knew Jason would roll his eyes—he did every time Matt corrected his grammar. He also used the opportunity to release some of his own tension; correcting Jason was fun. But his fun only lasted a second. “The guy at the funeral was…,” he stammered nervously. “He was…. That guy was Jamie’s boyfriend.” There, he’d said it! “His fiancé, actually.”
Jason’s eyes went wide. “Shit! No kiddin’? I had no idea Jimmy was gay. Damn.”
Matt didn’t know what to make of Jason’s reaction. The topic of homosexuality had never come up before. Why would it? If you weren’t gay, you certainly didn’t walk around talking about it with your straight work buddies unless it was to make fun of people who were. Matt remembered lots of times when the guys would laugh out loud at the television and mock something in a girly voice, pretending they were one of the gays. It aggravated Matt to no end, but he never said a word. No one ever caught on to his discomfort. The guys were absorbed in whatever sport was playing on the television and never noticed Matt walking  away.
Things were going to change now. It was only a matter of time before word of Matt’s admission got around to the guys at the station. Matt was positive somebody knew somebody who knew a firefighter who knew one of the guys he worked with. Of course, work was a thirty-minute drive south of his church, but one never knew where the parishioners shopped and who their friends were and who they were going to talk to next. Matt knew word would get around sooner or later.
But he couldn’t avoid talking about it now. He owed Jason the decency of being honest and not allowing him to find out second hand. They’d been friends for several years. Jason was the guy who had shown him the ropes when he got hired as a rookie out of the academy. Other guys weren’t so open, so friendly, especially when at least six people in this fire station were volunteers, not full-time career employees. Matt had to work hard to get past their grudges. It wasn’t his fault he was at the top of his class and this station was looking to hire someone young. That was the way it was! Plus, not all these guys had Matt’s skill level, even if they were older.
Jason, in contrast, knew what it was like on both sides. He started as a volunteer, learned, and worked his way up. When a paid position became available, he jumped for it. And when Matt got hired right out of cadet school, Jason was there at his side, mentoring him from day one. Matt knew he owed him, but should he tell Jason the truth now or wait a few days? He swallowed hard.
“So, um, Jason? Would it have mattered?” Please say no, please say no.
“Huh?” Jason looked up from relacing his boots. He had gone from appearing deeply interested in the conversation to complete absorption in his boots. “Ah, I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I never thought about it before.
At least he’s honest, Matt reasoned.
“I never knew someone who… well, who was gay.”
Matt sat on the bench next to him. The way Jason whispered the last word didn’t sit well on Matt’s stomach. He felt more nauseous with every passing second. Shit, he reconsidered. I can’t have this conversation now. I have to wait. He’s gonna reject me. I know it. “It’s not all that uncommon,” Matt replied in a calm, steady voice, masking his trepidation and the imminent projectile vomiting that threatened and burned his esophagus.
“Not in this county,” answered Jason. “My parents moved here because it’s ultraconservative. The state may be Democratic overall, but this county is definitely full of Republicans. I thought you told me one time your parents voted for Bush.”
“They did,” Matt confirmed. “And they weren’t overly joyful when Obama got elected.” He quickly held up his hands and added, “But not because he’s black or anything. And they fully support him now, since he’s our president.”
“Chill, Matt. I know your dad’s cool with the color of my skin. It was all in the way he shook my hand.” He slapped Matt on the back and grinned. “My daddy always told me you could tell the character of a man by the way he shakes your hand.”
Matt gave him a skeptical lift of the eyebrows. “My dad wasn’t always that way, believe me. I remember a time when he’d curse black people—I mean, people of colorfor stealing his parking spot at the grocery store and shit like that.”
“Matt. You can say ‘black people’,” Jason winked. “It doesn’t bother me. I know I’m black.”
“I never know who I’m gonna offend.”
Jason finished with one boot and started lacing the leather thong through the first eyelet of the second. When on duty, but waiting for a call, every firefighter had to find something to do. “Not me. If anything I get irritated at people callin’ us ‘African-Americans’. I don’t know about you, but I was born in America. My parents, my grandparents, heck, even my great-grandparents were born in America. In my mind, I’m American—simple as that. I don’t hear anybody calling you an Irish-American.”
Matt conceded, “I get your point.”
“America from the beginning was a melting pot. Wasn’t it? America began as a blending of cultures over the commonality of religion. Our founding fathers fled British tyranny and pursued religious freedom. Am I wrong?”
“I guess not,” Matt answered tentatively. He’d seen Jason get fired up before and start preaching about one thing or another to the guys, but never had Matt been the recipient of such a lecture. Who knew calling him “black” would trigger a whole speech on what it meant to be American? One thing was sure, Matt was glad the subject had shifted away from Jamie’s orientation. He wanted more time to feel out Jason’s opinion on the matter before he threw him another curveball.
“Of course, I’m right. So to get back to your original question—I’m not sure how I feel about Jimmy,” Jason continued, talking without shifting his concentration from the task at hand.
Matt squirmed. Leave it to Jason not to stray for long.
“To be honest, I liked him. He was funny and nice, and I can’t remember him comin’ on to anybody. He acted just like everybody else.” Jason stood and arranged his boots and overalls in front of his locker. They were meant to be set-up perpetually so all each firefighter had to do was toe off his or her normal shoes and slip inside the boots and overalls in one seamless movement when the alarm sounded.
Matt’s back went rigid. “Of course he was just like everyone else. What did you think? ‘Gay’ meant humping every guy’s leg like a horny dog at a cocktail party?” he snapped and regretted it immediately. He could have kicked himself. If he was trying to be subtle and keep the focus off him being gay, this was not the way to go about it. Jason would know for sure!
Jason tilted his head, “Testy, testy. I guess someone’s a little defensive of his best friend’s honor.”
“Sorry,” he lamented, feeling guilty for his verbal attack. But he had been keeping his opinions on homosexuality to himself for twenty-three years; he knew he was bound to explode sooner or later, now that he’d spilled the beans at church. Matt had to try and get his point across. “I just… It’s not fair to assume people are going to act a certain way just because they prefer sleeping with someone of the same sex. It’s like people assuming you have no money because you’re black, or conclude Billy’s stupid because he’s from West Virginia.”
Jason stood there and stared at him. Just stared. A whimsical grin curved his face, yet he continued to stare. It was unnerving.
“What?” Matt asked. “Dude, stop staring at me like that. What’d I say?” Matt honestly did not know what Jason was thinking to make his lips lift unevenly and his eyebrows arch. Although, he could guess. Matt’s knee started bouncing on its own. “Would you stop!”
Jason shook his head. “Who knew?”
Matt’s mouth went dry. “Who knew what?”
“About you.”
“About me, what?” This is it. He’s figured it out! His guts clenched, readying for the burning coals of judgment.
“That you, Matthias Dixon—the ladies’ man and all around horndog on the prowl for the past few years—you have an IQ over sixty and you actually believe in something. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you speak your mind about prejudice before. Good for you!”
Matt breathed a sigh of relief and grumbled, “A normal IQ is between ninety and one-hundred-nine.”
Jason casually continued, “See, just another factor to add to your set of statistics. You never can tell about people. I always say that. You never know how much they earn or where they’re from or how smart they are based on what they’re wearin’. You have to get to know people. Just like you.” He held out his hand toward Matt. “I knew you weren’t a true sleazeball, even if you never had a steady girlfriend. You were simply biding your time. You needed to find just the right girl to make you happy. How is your little cutie-pie, anyway? What’s her name?”
“Darian.” Compulsion spilled that one.
“Darian? Well that’s an unusual name. She still rock your world? I remember last week you were dying. Something about her ‘tight little ass’.
Matt’s stomach was churning again. First it was his fear of judgment and now it was fear of saying the wrong thing to trigger the judgment. He didn’t want to talk to Jason right now about Darian, yet he had to admit the sound of Darian’s name made him tingle.
Jason teased Matt last week about being in love. Jason was a romantic at heart. Matt refuted it. It wasn’t true. Maybe. Probably. Matt was still wavering; but if he admitted his feelings to Jason, the man would gloat. It had only been six days since they met. Who fell in love in six days? It was surely more than lust, but love? The jury was still undecided.
He had to confess, though: he couldn’t hear Darian’s name enough, just like he couldn’t get enough of Darian’s smooth, white skin and his voluptuous mouth. Matt shivered all over thinking about Darian. Even after sex, when they snuggled in bed or ate a meal together, Matt found himself smiling more than he ever had. And that was saying a lot! Matt was generally a happy person. Now, with Darian in his life, he was hitting an all-time high. Maybe it was love?
Matt was only marginally aware of his previous anxiety as he gushed, “Darian’s amazing.” His voice turned all daydreamy. If he were outside himself right now, Matt might have kicked himself for acting so lovesick. “Adorable, gentle, sweet; I can never get enough of those big brown eyes. My world is seriously rocked and flipped on end. And that body….” He sighed, his head tilting back. “Oh, God. Darian’s body molds to mine like we were made for one another. His lips taste like fresh strawberries. I can hardly—”
Right then the siren sounded long and loud.
Jason screwed up his eyes and leaned closer. “Did you just say ‘his’?”
Matt’s instinct drove him to grab his gear immediately. He wasn’t sure he heard Jason correctly. “Huh? I…,” he started to say but then waved Jason off, grabbing his overalls after toeing off his shoes. This wasn’t the time to clarify anything.
Men rushed about them, trying to don their gear quickly. Jason followed suit. Each of them fell into the sixty-second routine they were made for. They were firefighters. Somewhere there was a fire, and it was their job to be ready as fast as possible. Matt and Jason pulled on their gear and followed several others to the fire engine.

Matt was exhausted. He hadn’t worked that hard in a week. Last Thursday he’d had a shift before the viewing, but there were no emergency calls. In theory he could have had a lot of sleep that night and every night since, but he and Darian stayed up fucking for hours. Matt chuckled. He often functioned well on no sleep when sex was the explanation.
Although probably not tonight.
Matt’s body wanted sleep.
As he turned into the parking lot of his apartment complex, he spied Darian’s red Nissan. Relief washed over his sore muscles. Darian. Matt parked his Dodge Dakota next to Darian’s car and trudged across the asphalt. He was glad Darian decided to stick around. He could not recall if Darian said he had to work or not. Matt would have to get Darian to write down his schedule and where he worked. He remembered reading something about American Eagle Outfitters in Jamie’s journals, but he wasn’t positive. They barely knew each other, even though Matt had read all Jamie’s journals. The journals contained facts based on Jamie’s opinions and experiences, but they weren’t necessarily based on reality. So even if Matt knew a lot about Jamie’s Darian, he still didn’t know Darian. Plus, it was a lot to remember all at once. He knew he would be reading them again.
There was also brief talk yesterday about moving in together. Matt wanted Darian to stay, but it scared the piss out of him to think of the commitment involved in renting an apartment together. Right now he lived with his Aunt Peggy. She was easy to live with, mostly because she travelled for work and was rarely home. Living with Darian wouldn’t be like that. Peggy had her own room. Darian would be in his room, sharing his space. Not that Matt minded sharing his space, but the whole experience of a relationship was new and freakin’ scary! Plus, Darian was getting over the loss of his first love and fiancé. Matt wasn’t sure if and when they should move in together, or even if it was a good idea—no matter how good it sounded when he brought it up.
He needed time. Did Darian want time? Matt wasn’t completely sure of Darian’s feelings. He seemed to care; yet so far he hadn’t said one way or another how he felt toward Matt. Darian needed him, and it was very clear he wanted him, but that felt superficial. Matt yearned for verbal confirmation.
Matt was too tired to think.
He opened the door, and all was quiet. Is Darian really still here? He shed his jacket and set his keys on the breakfast bar. On the way down the hall, he pulled off his shirt. He opened the bedroom door and saw the lump under the covers. Matt smiled. He’s still here. As terrifying as moving in together had seemed seconds ago, the thought Darian might have left without a word was even worse.
Matt showered and got ready for bed as quickly as he could. He wanted sleep but couldn’t imagine finding it without spooning himself around Darian. He lifted the covers and slid in beside him. Darian was asleep on his stomach with his hands curled up by his neck. Adorable!
Matt left the light on in the bathroom and cracked the door so he could see. He never kept a light on at night before, but now he had a reason. He loved looking at Darian. The man was beautiful when he slept and even more so when he came. Matt could imagine making love to Darian on a beach or in a sun-drenched meadow, anywhere and everywhere as long as he could look into Darian’s eyes and watch pleasure flow over his features.
A sun-drenched meadow? Fuck! Matt shook his head. There’s Jamie’s romantic influence again. Or is it Jason’s? Matt wasn’t sure which guy put more notions in his head, but he was sure they came from one of his two friends. Matt had not been a romantic person in the past. He was all about the fucking and didn’t give a rat’s ass about the trick he picked up. It was always about his own orgasm.
He’d done anyone, as long as (1) they did not live within sixty miles of his hometown, (2) they didn’t try to kiss him, (3) they were not interested in more than a one-time deal, (4) the guy didn’t ask to go to his place, (5) they agreed ahead of time to group sex or not, (6) no restraints were used without discussing safewords and fetish preferences, and (7)….
Matt stopped midthought. He made his set of conditions, or “rules”, years ago, but looking at Darian, he realized none of them applied. He’d broken the first several without a second thought the day he met Darian. He wanted Darian in his bed—in his hometown. Matt had already fucked—no! made love to him repeatedly and planned to be with him countless more times. And kissing Darian was heavenly. Matt threw out rule number two after the first swipe of Darian’s tongue.
Matt didn’t need rules. He needed Darian.

And that is NOT the end of chapter!