Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tuesday Teasers - Banker's Hours

As promised last week, here is an excerpt from Banker's Hours, the contemporary romance I am currently writing.

The blurb (to be revised):

When a banker’s hours leave long weekends for romance, cosmic intervention is Grant’s only option when money doesn’t buy happiness and he’s got virginity in spades.

Grant Davis is a twenty-six year old bank teller who’s unlucky at love, yet hopelessly hopeful. Every guy he’s ever gone out with ended the relationship before the second date. It could be Grant’s bad taste in men, or it could be his ODC and pedantic nature that’s sent them packing. Still, he’s convinced he’s saving himself for true love.

Tristan Carr has been in a holding pattern since his daughter was born. Fourteen years later he’s still alone, and that suits his workaholic lifestyle just fine. He hooks up occasionally, when long nights seem lonely, but honestly he’s never wanted anyone interfering with being a weekend dad. To enter Tristan’s world, a guy needed to be special.

Between daydreams and wet dreams, a reticent skeptic can only find love when it shows up at his window.

And an excerpt. Let me know what you think. Everything is sort of rough at the moment, but this gives you an idea of what I am currently doing.

Chapter 1

“Who’s the hottie?” asked a female customer to my colleague Jessica. She “whispered” her question in a none-to-hushed voice, as if it wouldn’t be overheard four feet away in the adjacent teller cubicle. I kept my back turned, pretending to tidy my work area because I wasn’t sure how to respond. I didn’t really know Jessica, since I’d only worked in this branch of the bank for a week. I certainly didn’t know the customer who asked the question, since I hadn’t seen her in the bank before. I did, however, know enough to understand that I was the object of said question.
It wasn’t the first time I’d been referred to as a “hottie;” although I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t have the muscular and height I normally associated with hotties. I guess I was okay looking, but after people got to know me, my looks never mattered. I was pedantic with dose heavy dose of OCD, and I guess it was a little too much for most people because I rarely got asked out twice by the same guy. Actually, I couldn’t remember ever being asked out twice.
I almost threw a pity party for myself in my cubicle, but knocked over my pens instead. They went rolling off my station and I forgot to stew over the fact that I was twenty-six and never been kissed. I wanted to think of it as “saving myself,” but the truth is I was a loser and no one had ever liked me enough to kiss me.
“That’s Grant,” Jessica answered her customer. “He transferred from another branch when it closed.”
I picked up my pens and set them back in the round container and moved it to a different stop. I made the mistake of glancing over and caught Jessica and that woman staring at me. Was this what penguins felt like? No, they probably didn’t notice the humans staring through the glass as they swam at the zoo. Monkeys were more intelligent. Maybe they understood the uneasiness associated with being gawked at. It wasn’t merely the staring, or the compliment she’d given me, my problem was because the remarks never stayed on the complimentary level. Once they got past my dark blond hair and blue eyes, people normally laughed at me for something.
I turned away from Jessica and headed toward the restroom. Once I locked the door, I took out my phone and texted my mother. I didn’t live with her, I wasn’t that pathetic, but we texted often.
How are you, Mom?
She texted back quickly, as per usual. I’m fine, Grant, but you are supposed to be working. Stop texting me.
I’m on a five-minute break.
Stop ducking into the bathroom every time something stresses you out.
Nothing stressed me out.
Did you pee, or did you lock the door and take out your phone?
“Shit,” I mumbled. I glanced at my reflection over the sink. “I am pathetic.” I texted my reply: I peed.
Liar. Go back to work. You’ll settle I fine. Talk to people, make friends, and then the new branch won’t be so scary.
But it took me a year to make friends with Laura and then she moved across the country and left me two months before they decided to close my branch. I feel like my life is in turmoil.
Grant, go back to work. Talk to people. The ones you work with and the customers. Maybe one of them lives near you and will turn out to be a good friend. I need to go. I have a massage in ten minutes.
Fine. Bye. Have fun.
She didn’t text back. She probably thought I was ridiculous. I pocketed my phone and washed my hands. I liked clean hands, plus I enjoyed the smell of the pink grapefruit foaming hand soap. Sometimes I washed my hands just so I could smell my fingers while I was working. People may have thought I had an unusually itchy nose, but I only rubbed the tip of it so I could smell the soap scent.
When I got out of the bathroom, I returned to my cubicle to discover a line had formed. It was like that. One minute I could be straightening my deposit slips and reorganizing my inkpad and teller stamp, and the next minute fifty people show up in the lobby at the same time. I put on a bright smile and called a woman over.
“Good morning,” I said to the older lady.
“It’s the afternoon,” she replied gruffly.
I glanced at my computer screen. “Technically, it’s morning until after noon.”
She glared and shoved a check my way. “Cash that. I want it all in twenties.”
I took the check and flipped it over. “Can you please sign the back, and may I see your driver’s license?”
She snatched up a pen and proceeded to scribble her name. “My license is in the car, surely you can ask one of the other tellers to vouch for me?”
“I could, but then how am I to learn your name for the next time?”
“By memorizing the name on the check,” she huffed.
“Well, I’m new here and it is procedure to ask for a driver’s license for all transactions. Even with customers I know, I am supposed to write the number on the check or at the very least double check the name.”
She ignored my reason and fussed at my coworker. “Jessica, can you tell this boy who I am please? I don’t have time to follow his procedures.”
“You can cash Mrs. Caldwell’s check, Grant. I know who she is,” Jessica said. She didn’t seem smug or condescending, but I felt snubbed all the same. I had protocol to follow, and my first customer of the day sidestepped it.
I grinned and nodded politely, but I begrudgingly counted out twenties. “Will that be all, Mrs. Caldwell?”
“Yes, thank you.” The terse woman put the wad of bills in an envelope before I even had the chance to ask if she wanted one, and then stormed away.
The next person to walk up to my window made my breath hitch. I swallowed hard. “Ca-can I help you?”
The man grinned, but only with the left side of his mouth. “Yes. I’d like to deposit this in the account at the bottom, and I’d like to withdraw money from a different account. I’ve written down how I want that back on this slip of paper.” He slid a piece of paper to me across the counter. His hands were soiled and greasy. I suddenly wanted to wash mine.
“Oh, okay. I can do that. I’ll just need to see—”
“My driver’s license,” he said, sliding across the counter. He half-grinned again.
“Oh, thank you,” I replied. I was slightly startled by his compliance, and half nervous over his grin. I took his personal license and wrote the number on the business check for Carr’s Automotive. Tristan Carr. “Is this your company?” I asked.
“Yes. My dad started the business and I took it over before he died. If you ever need an auto mechanic, I’m only fifteen minutes north of here.” He winked.
My mouth went dry. Was he flirting or just being friendly? “Um, okay. I bet you get harassed about the name.”
I punched in his account number and clicked the corresponding option on my screen. I ran his checks through the scanning machine and then set them in the correct bid. I handed him the receipt for his deposit. “How did you want that back?” I asked. He glanced down and tapped the counter. “Oh, right, you gave me a list.” After I counted out the appropriate amount, and zipped it up in his money pouch, I asked, “Is there anything else I can do to—for you?”
I expected a smirk, or some facial tick to reveal he’d heard my slip, but he only paused before answering, “No. Thank you,” he glanced at my name placard, “Grant. I’m sure I’ll see you again. Perhaps the next time you won’t need ask for my license.”
Why would he say that? He couldn’t know I was checking him out. I barely made eye contact. “Perhaps,” I replied. “It was nice to meet, Mr. Carr, of Carr’s Automotive.”
He grinned again and stuck out his hand, but as I went to shake it, I bumped the container of pens I’d set next to the window, after I’d knocked them over from their previous location, and sent them rolling across the counter and through the window onto the floor at his feet. I was so embarrassed. “Oh God. I’m so sorry.” I gathered them up and set them in the container I up-righted.
He bent down and retrieved the pens from the floor and put them into my container. Three were upside down so I took them out and flipped them over. He smirked and said, “Until next time, Mr….” he paused, picking up one of my business cards from the stack next to my name placard. “Rush. Grant Rush,” he repeated. “It was a pleasure to meet you.” He stuck out his hand again and this time I didn’t knock over the pens when I shook it.
His hand was dirty and rough and completely swallowed my tiny palm. “Likewise.”
He nodded and walked away, and I glanced at my hands. They felt gritty.
I looked to the next customer and smiled as she stepped up, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the feel of his skin touching mine. She set her money and checks on the counter, but I had to excuse myself. “I’m sorry. I need to wash my hands.” I took a step backwards. “I’ll only be a second.”
She gave me a questioning look, but warily conceded, “Okay.”
I dashed to the bathroom and pumped three squirts of foam onto my hands and lathered thoroughly. His hands appeared greasy; and even though there was no evidence of grease or dirt on mine after he’d shook it, I still had to wash. I rinsed and dried my hands. I looked down at my open palms, fresh and clean. He’d touched me. A man I’d just met, held my hand briefly. I’d introduced myself to countless people before, some of them male, yet Mr. Carr’s warmth still lingered inexplicably.
I heard a knock on the door. “Grant? How long are you going to be in there?” Lucinda, another teller, asked. I opened the door and she said, “There’s a line. I don’t want to call Tracy over to help.”
Tracy was the bitchy branch manager I’d come to loathe from day one. She was not friendly by any means, but did her job well enough to garner the customers’ adoration. Lucinda had been kind enough to warn me about her before I got myself fired over nothing. Tracy was all business and as long as I did my job to her satisfaction, Lucinda had assured me Tracy would leave me alone. Only, I hadn’t been here long enough to earn my reputation for excellence. Tracy hadn’t worked with me at the other branch and apparently word of mouth wasn’t good enough.
“No,” I replied. “I’m coming.” I shut the door and returned to my station. The same woman was waiting there. “Good morning.”
“It’s twelve ten, therefore afternoon,” she corrected, handing me her deposit.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Time flies when your having fun,” I joked, hoping she would let my inattention slide.
“Or chatting up a customer,” Jessica commented.
I blanched and hoped my customer didn’t notice as I entered her account number into the computer. I couldn’t believe Jessica would say such a thing with a customer right there.
“That man did look dirty,” the customer said. “I don’t blame you for washing your hands.” She slid her license toward me without prompt.
“Thank you. Although it’s not necessary for a deposit.”
She smiled. “I come in here several days a week. You’re new, so I wanted to make sure you got familiar with my name. It will make it easier then next time.”
“True,” I read the name, “Ms. Gina Snyder.” I chuckled. “I have Snyder’s pretzels in my lunch today. You don’t own the pretzel company, do you?” Her deposit was large, but there had to be hundreds of Snyders in the greater tri-state area.
“Mrs., and not directly, no,” she replied, grinning precociously. Her eyes lingered on me and my face flushed. “I’ll see you another day, my dear boy.” She winked and turned away.
Two winks in one day. If this was any indication of the type of town Westminster was, I wasn’t sure I could handle it. I was used to attention, but this was silly. I wasn’t sure I’d last in this branch of every customer flirted with me. Although, perhaps I was assuming too much. Mr. Carr couldn’t possibly know I was gay, and Mrs. Snyder wouldn’t flirt with a guy my age, would she? I was probably young enough to be her son.
Jessica stepped up behind me and whispered, “Be careful with her. She’s a cougar.”
I turned around sharply. “What?”
Jessica glanced at the lobby, before saying, “She’s an aggressive older woman who likes to prey on hot younger guys.”
There was one guy filling out a slip and another waiting to see the manager about opening an account, so I had a minute or two to fuss. I protested, “I’m not hot.”
She snorted, “Oh, please. You’re hot. I wouldn’t normally admit that, but since you’re gay my opinion won’t get misconstrued.”
“Gay? I’m not….” I started to protest but the look she gave me screamed “Stop before I smack you.” I glanced around and whispered, “How did you know?”
She snorted. “I know this is going to sound awful, but you drip gay. From your pink shirts—”
“Straight guys wear pink.”
“To your perfect hair—”
“Straight guys comb their hair.”
“And your obsession with cleanliness—”
“Straight guys can be clean.”
“There isn’t a single thing about you I’ve seen that would convince me you’re straight. Maybe Mrs. Snyder can over look your less-than-straight qualities because she wants to bag you, but I pegged you from day one. I’m just saying… be careful and stop flirting with everyone.”
“I’m not.” Besides the fact her assessment of me was offensive, I couldn’t follow what she was suggesting. I didn’t flirt.
“Oh right,” she laughed. “Then you better get that blushing of yours under control because women like Mrs. Snyder will eat you alive, and guys like Mr. Carr might punch the shit out of you. I saw him at a Papa Joe’s once. He got off his motorcycle and walked across the parking lot like he owned the place. It scared the crap out of me. He could be a police officer or a general of an army. Believe me, you don’t want to mess with him.”
I couldn’t imagine Mr. Carr punching me. He seemed very nice. His half smile intrigued me; it made me think of trouble brewing under the surface. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. He didn’t seen dangerous to me. Besides, I’m not flirting with anyone and I don’t blush easily.”
“The hell you don’t. Just watch yourself or Tracy will haul you into her office and rip you a new one. She’s all about policy, and dating customers is frowned upon.”
We were only standing in my cubicle, but I felt as though she’d shoved me into a corner and was pointing her finger at me as she yelled in her quiet tone. “Okay, okay. Jeez. I haven’t done anything.”
She expression changed. “I’m sorry, Grant. I like you. I don’t want to see you get fired or get hurt. You seem very sweet, albeit a bit naïve.”
She had me there. My cheeks heated from embarrassment.
“See, you’re blushing again.” She reached up and touched my arm. “I’m sorry I commented about chatting up the customers. I think it was my way of challenging what I’d seen. Part of me hoped it wasn’t true because you are seriously cute. Being gay would ruin my chances.”
I sighed. “You’re right, I’m gay.”
“Then why be so defensive about it?”
“I guess because you deconstructed my sexuality based on stereotypes. I don’t like labels and definitions because I think there are too many people out there that don’t fit into a category. Some get offended.”
“But yours are obvious. Tone down your actions or expect people to assume.” She looked over my shoulder. “Customers. Gotta go.” Jessica patted my arm and waved the customer in line to head over to her window.
I greeted the next one, “Good afternoon.”


I went home after my shift and gazed at myself in the mirror of my dresser. Was I really stereotypical? I liked pastel shirts and I didn’t see a reason to wear white or black just to blend in. I undid my pink and white striped tie and pulled from around my neck. I hung it on the tie organizer in my closet and unbuttoned my shirt. My pasty white skin sagged in my reflection. I flexed. The lack of muscle made my self-image worse. I was scrawny and awkward, and my body was not one that guys like Tristan Carr desired. Even with the point zero two percent chance he was gay, I highly doubted I had anything he’d find attractive. In my suit and tie, I had the hot young executive appearance in my favor. Out of the suit, I was a pathetic twenty-six year old virgin with zero appeal.

And that's all you get. Come back another day :)

Currently this work sits at 50,776 words. It is coming along very well and very fast. I hope to submit it to Dreamspinner by the end of August (or sooner). Hugs <3


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday Teasers – No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys

For those who are not on Facebook, you may not know that I contracted another book in the JOCK series. No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys is books #2 and is the sequel to the ever popular My Roommate’s a Jock? Well, Crap! I signed a contract very recently and Dreamspinner is due to begin production in a few weeks. The estimated time for publication is November or December. I am very excited about this one. I think the story is very sweet. Alonzo Martin turned out to be one of my favorite characters yet! And I think Chris Jackson is just fun :)

This is the blurb until it is revised by the editors:

What is a sexy soccer stud supposed to do when “following family traditions” falls 180 degrees opposite his closeted ideal?

From birth, Chris Jackson had been schooled on how to land himself a cheerleader. After all, his father married one, and his father’s father before that. Heck, even his older brother married their father’s definition of a stereotypical cheerleader the summer before Chris went off to college. For two years, Chris dodged invasive questions about relationships by blaming his lack of female companionship on grueling practices and heavy coarse loads; but really, his lack of interest in girls period should have given the family a clue. It wasn’t until Chris mentioned meeting a boy that his father’s synapses short-circuited.

Alonzo Martin was anything but a buxom blond. From his black hair, combat boots, and trench coat, to his nail polish and guyliner, the mysterious introvert was not so easily persuaded to go on a date. Alonzo’s insecurities kept Chris at arm’s length, but even his painful past couldn’t compete with the charismatic jock’s winning smile and sense of humor.

When opposites attract, only cheerleaders and gummy bears can overcome fear and family traditions.

I am also excited to tell you I am currently writing book #3 in the series, as well as a stand alone contemporary romance called Banker’s Hours, and I am rewriting a book I had written years ago, had published, and which as since been taken off the market called Sculpting Clay. I wish to rewrite it, make it better (I hope), and bring it back in print over the summer. I would like to keep my fans happy while waiting for JOCK 2 to come out in the winter. My PLAN is to write and submit a book every 3-4 months and once that roll starts, then I SHOULD start having a publication every 3-4 months. (In theory, I haven’t proven that correct yet.) Fingers crossed, I can actually make this a career and not a part-time hobby. People in my real life don’t often respect the “author life” unless I am actually making money to support my family. Ya know? Plus my husband probably needs a less stressful job, so if I can make money, then he can switch jobs. This will be better for us!

This week, my excerpt is from No! Jocks Don’t Date Guys, but next week, I’ll give you a glimpse into Banker’s Hours. How’s that?

Hugs and kittens ** LOL, Jason :)


Chapter 1
New Coach

Soccer practice was about to start when I noticed a guy, all dressed in black, walk around the corner of the stadium fence and climb the steps, two at a time. I watched this lone spectator out of the corner of my eye as I squirted water into my mouth, and then all over my face, from my favorite water bottle with the pull-top spout. My best bud, Doug, had given it to me for my birthday last May, and I swear it was the best gift ever because not only did it not leak in my car, but when the top was screwed off, the opening was wide enough to get my hand in to wash it. I took it with me everywhere. I snapped the spout closed and tossed it in my bag. A casual glance around, and that guy was still there—watching.
I knew he wasn’t watching me, as I assessed his ocular trajectory from the way his head was positioned. He was taking in the whole field. Although, the same thing could be said of me as I surreptitiously noted his characteristics, while turning my head as if scanning the bleachers and the near-by sand pit. I was the sly, stealthy kind if I did say so myself. Practice makes perfect, after all. The rest of the team didn’t need to know how easily I could get distracted from the actual reason we were all here at 8:00 a.m. Soccer was life, but in the other three hours of the day when soccer, food, and sleep was not on my brain, I liked observing people. Guys in particular, because I guess I was always on the prowl for that one guy who would grab my soul and melt my heart.
Okay, enough of that.
I mainly noticed this guy because one solitary dude, sitting at the top of the football stadium bleachers, dressed in a black trench coat and combat boots, in August, two weeks before classes started, wasn’t normal. I noticed details like this all the time. Things out of the ordinary, juxtaposed against the backdrop of college soccer, were fascinating. His presence was idiosyncratic or peculiar in this setting and the very definition of my weakness. The oddities of life, the strange and weird, always drew me in.
Why was he here?
Sometimes I hated the way I noticed details, because people often wanted to go unnoticed when their individual oddity wasn’t popular or pleasant. Scars for instance, rarely escaped my attention no matter how hard I tried to overlook them.
Case in point: the left wing on the team, Marshall, had a scar on his lip. I’d surmised it was from cleft-lip surgery, same as I knew no one else would have given it a second glance. He had a mustache to cover up the tiny scar, which had to have been done when he was a child, yet I’d noticed it. It was in the way he smiled. Normal and bright, yet off-center enough not to slip my keen observation.
I also had a thing for tattoos, piercings, and Mohawks because I always wanted to know the motivation behind them. Was the hairstyle for attention or did the person simply get pleasure from the dramatic flare? Did a tattoo have special meaning or was it a random decision? Things like that went through my mind all the time. I had one tattoo on my ribs, which held particular meaning to me. It was a quote from Hamlet, but since I’d had it inked in Latin, most people didn’t know what it said and oddly no one ever asked.
The trench coat guy was no exception to my fascination.
In the sixty seconds I spent on the sidelines taking a drink of water and scoping-out our unexpected spectator, the rest of the team came stumbling in behind me.
“Dude! Why you always gotta show off and beat the team back?” Preet asked, doubling over and grabbing his sides.
He was a fun guy with a Pakistani father and a Turkish mother who’d been in the United States since way before Preet was born. He had dark skin and feathery hair that I often thought about touching, except that he was straight. I answered him with a chuckle. “Preet, the captain always needs to lead the team, even if it means running the first three laps the fastest.” I clapped him on the back as my buddy Doug winked at me. “Don’t tell me you’re tired already. Practice hasn’t even started.”
Preet groaned. I suspected he’d spent way too much of his summer in front of the television. Sucks to be him!
Doug knew about me and my ever-so-slight crush on the handsome defensive player. He knew everything there was to know and probably some things I didn’t even know myself. We’d been best buds since middle school, when I dropped my chocolate milk in the cafeteria and he offered me his. Chocolate milk had solidified our friendship and it still worked to this day. If we ever had an argument, all Doug needed to do was buy me a little carton of chocolate milk and I’d forgive him. So far, he’s only had to do that twice in seven years.
“Don’t try to understand him, Preet, just go with it,” Doug instructed.
The other players flopped on the grass all around me, some heaving as if I’d taken them on a five-mile sprint, and others sipping on their water bottles as they waited for the next drill. I’d hoped the coach would have shown up by now, but he was late. I grabbed my phone from my bag and checked for any texts.
Coach Marks had been the school’s soccer coach for years, and our soccer coach for the past two seasons. I use the term “our” loosely because some of the guys who’d turned up for this first practice were obviously freshman. The coach had been at try-outs and these guys were obviously good enough for him, but I was skeptical. But coach… where was he? I was a junior, looking to have another awesome season playing with many of the same guys as the year before, and also with my buddies Doug and Cullen. It was unusual for the coach to be this late. No texts. This was disconcerting. I’d just seen him on Saturday and he hadn’t said anything.
I glanced up from my phone in time to see the athletic director riding his golf cart around the track and through the gate, which encircled the football field. Normally, we didn’t play on the stadium field, nor did we practice there on a daily basis. The soccer team had a practice field for sprints, drills, and try-outs, as well as its own official fields to play on, but the coach had made it a tradition to start on this field the first day to give the players a visual of professionalism and grandeur. He had told us in previous years, “The team needs to be just that—a team. Without teamwork, the parents and fans that come to fill the stadium seats gather only to witness a bunch of little boys running around kicking a ball with no purpose. Is that why you’re here?” Coach had asked.
In unison we’d answered, “No, sir!”
“Then look around you, boys,” he’d charge us, “and take it in. You must earn your spot with skill, sportsmanship, and teamwork. We come together as a team out there,” he would point toward the practice field beyond the fence and visitor side bleachers, “so we come in here. We dominate our home field as one fluid unit.” He’d also commented about the costs involved with building a brick stadium and if we ever wanted a more prominent place to play, we needed to impress investors.
His words meant a lot to me. They had settled over us as a team and we’d done fairly well last year even if our record showed eight wins, eight losses, and a tie. Coach had been proud because we played our hearts out. He’d gotten us to think as one and I was looking forward to pulling the new guys into our flow. But where was the coach?
I met the athletic director as he stepped out of the golf cart. “Hey, Mr. Mathews,” I greeted him. “Where’s Coach Marks?”
He shook my hand and nodded to the team as they closed in around us. “Hello, Chris. I hate to inform you like this, because I know how much Tom Marks means to you boys, but he won’t be coaching you this season.”
“What?” I asked as the others groaned, almost not believing him yet seeing his sincerity.
He nodded some more. “I’m sorry.”
“What happened?” I asked. “He’s okay, isn’t he? He was just here for try-outs. What happened?”
“He’s fine. It’s his wife’s family. There was a death, and as far as I understand, they left for Portland last night. He tendered his resignation and apparently plans on moving the whole family to Oregon. That’s all I know until he e-mails me back.”
I looked at a few of the players. Their eyes hopped from one to another and back again. It was as if no one really knew what to say to that. I admit; the reason was an odd one. I’d never known anyone to up and move so spontaneously, but then I hadn’t had a family member die that I could remember, other than my grandmother and she was old. But this was plain weird. What would we do? Who would coach us? How would the school find someone before our first scrimmage next Thursday?
I spoke up and voiced what the team had to be thinking. “Um, what about a new coach? Is it going to be you?” I asked, but I was hoping the answer wasn’t yes.
“No, Chris. Not me.” He grinned. “I don’t know enough about soccer to do you boys any good. Golf is my game. No, the school board has been searching for a new coach all day; don’t worry. That’s why I’m out here. I was going over my e-mails from yesterday before deleting them, when I came across one the administrator sent to the new coach, which I was copied on. That was a good thing because it seems the date was incorrect so he was originally told to start coaching August twentieth.”
Cullen piped in, “But today is the tenth. Our first scrimmage is on August twentieth, what do we do until then?”
“Exactly my point,” Mr. Mathews concurred. “I jumped on the horn right away and told him about the mistake. Ironically, he’d second-guessed the date himself because he had the soccer schedule already programmed into his calendar. He was already in town, setting up his office, and planned to contact me tomorrow. I simply beat him to it.”
“Office?” I asked. Somewhere the details were getting muddled and I personally liked filling in those gaps.
“Yes, he’s the new English teacher on staff. His office is on the third floor of the English building. Anyway, he was already here and hoping to meet with me this afternoon. When I called, he said he’d drop what he was doing so he could head over to meet everyone. He’s a very exuberant, young lad.”
I raised my eyebrow. “Young lad? How young are we talking?” I wondered because most of us were between eighteen and twenty-two. It would be weird to take orders from a guy our age. In fact, if the guy was my age, I think I’d push to coach the team by myself. Who was this “young lad” anyway?
“He’s twenty three.” The murmurs started and he held up his hands. “And before you all get up in arms over his age, let me tell you I was a bit skeptical myself. But as it was explained to me, he wasn’t hired to coach soccer. He was hired to take Mrs. Blakely’s position when she retires. His background in soccer was coincidental and convenient. They offered him the position tentatively because Coach Marks left the school in a tight spot. If he isn’t working out within a few weeks, I’ll take over until a permanent coach can be found. He can’t officially start coaching until Thursday because of other obligations, so that leaves you all on your own for a couple days, which I think you can handle. What I want from you all is patience and cooperation. Can you do that?”
I turned and looked at my guys. I met their eyes one by one. I could read their minds even if only by the strength in their expressions. I knew them. My teammates, even the younger newbies, all had one goal on their thoughts—winning. If winning came by coach “young lad’s” hand, or by Mr. Mathews, or by my leadership through example, we’d all be happy. So yeah, “young lad” would get his chance in the sun.
I turned back around and held out my hand and Mr. Mathews shook it. “Yes sir,” I answered. “You’ve got our promise to do our best. And this new coach, no matter his age, will find he has the best group of guys if ever there was a team to coach.”
“Thank you, Chris. I kind of figured I could count on you. Tom told me you were an outstanding leader.”
“So, when’s he getting here?”
“Um, hopefully before practice ends. I caught him fresh out of the shower when I called.”
I turned around and slapped my hands together. “Okay, you heard him guys. What we want to do is show this new coach what we’re made of. When he gets here, whenever he gets here, we’re going to be full out doing drills and working it hard. No slackers on my field. Coach Marks might be gone, but his motto still stands. We play as a team! We learn teamwork off the field, so that when we walk onto the turf of the Green Terror Soccer Complex on game day, everyone watching will know we play as one.” Then I shouted, “Are you with me?”
They all shouted back, “Yes sir!”
I chuckled to myself. No one called me sir normally and it was funny to hear it now, but I knew they meant it figuratively. I wasn’t going to gloat or bask in it.
“All right,” Mr. Mathews said. “I’ll leave you to it. He should be along anytime.”
“First things first, we’re going to do a another mile around the track. Tomorrow, we’re going to do two miles. Wednesday we’re going to do timed laps and anyone under the coach’s ‘try-out’ time, gets fifty pushups and then has to run again. Got it?”
Then it occurred to me that I hadn’t asked the new coach’s name. I turned and shouted at Mr. Mathews as he pulled away in his little golf cart. “You didn’t tell me his name?”
Doug clapped me on the shoulder. “Maybe it slipped his mind. Remember last year when he kept calling me Derek? Sometimes he’s not all in there.”
“So you’re on board with all this?” Doug asked.
I shrugged and encouraged him into a private huddle with my arm around his shoulders. I told him quietly, “I guess I have to be. You know our team needs to be a team. If I lead them into mutiny because I don’t like the terms of ‘young lad’s’ leadership, then I’m not the leader that coach told Mr. Mathews about. I’d be a mutineer, a traitor, and in danger of being thrown overboard.”
“You’re gonna call him young lad to his face, aren’t you?” Doug asked with a smirk.
I grinned back and chuckled. “Oh God, I hope not. He wouldn’t get it and then I’d be that doofus who didn’t know his name.”
“But you don’t know his name.”
I pulled back and gave him a non-threatening glare. “Of course, you go there. Great. Now you’ve jinxed it. He’ll get here and I’ll be all like, ‘Hey, coach Young Lad. How’s it going?’ Great. Thanks, Doug. You’re a real pal.”
He laughed and we turned around to look at the rest of the guys who were sitting and standing, but all wondering what the heck we were talking about. That was my cue. I knew playtime was over.
I rubbed my hands together vigorously and got down to business. I ordered, “Okay team. Let’s hit that track!”
They groaned, but I kind of thought it was from their disapproval of my satisfaction over temporary leadership. I, on the other hand, enjoyed it immensely. Maybe I was born to be a drill instructor. I laughed all the way to the track, and around it, and while I waited for all of my teammates to catch up. Yes, it was good to be king.


Two hours later, my guys were drenched in sweat and ready to hit the showers. I told them to meet at the practice field the rest of the week at 8:00 a.m. every morning for two hours and again at 6:00 p.m. for an hour of shooting drills and goal kicks. The guys groaned, but everyone agreed to it. Besides, practices twice a day were only until classes started. I wasn’t a sadist.
I grabbed my bag and looked toward the bleachers. Trench coat dude was still there. He had sat in the same spot for two hours in the morning sun, watching. Who was he watching? Or was it just the solitude of sitting alone that thrilled him?
As the guys drifted away, climbing the hill toward the athletic building or their dorm rooms respectively, and only a few of us were left, trench coat guy stood up and started descending the steps. Interesting. Maybe I could follow him and find out his deal.
Or, maybe I could get arrested for being a perverted stalker. Yeah, my ideas weren’t the best.
Before I took a step, another peculiar guy was in my sight. This one was jogging right up to me with a bright smile on his face, and I could not say I’d ever seen a whiter set of teeth.
He held out his hand to me and said, “Hi! My name’s Ellis Montgomery. I’m your new coach.”
Wow. I had to admit that I probably would have addressed him as “young lad” if I’d been on my game, and made a joke or something to distract myself from his incredibly gorgeous blue eyes and hot soccer-player bod under his tight red tank, but my mind was zeroed in on the one guy, all dressed in black, who’d sat for two hours in the sun watching us practice soccer, who’d just hit the last step and was about to exit through the gate and ascend the steps toward the wellness center before I could catch his attention.
I desperately needed to know who trench coat guy was and why he was so interested in our team. Coach Blue Eyes would just have to wait.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friend Fridays - Lori Toland

Hello Lovely people. We are back for another Friend Friday and here with us is Lori Toland. She did a short interview to give me and you all an idea about things that inspire her and how long she's been writing, etc. I met Lori BRIEFLY at Rainbow Con in 2014. Long enough to say hello and get autographed swag, but not long enough to get a picture or get to know anything about her.

In 2014 I was JUST getting used to talking to people. I had been to my FIRST CON EVER in October of 2013 with GRL, and Rainbow Con came just a few months later in April of 2014. I was still shy, although less than at GRL because I knew more people. But when you know very few, and think very few know you, it is hard to break out and be confident and talk to people, etc. At least it started out like that. So even though I had heard of Lori and was familiar with some of her titles, I still was not up to the full on "fan girl" mode to take a picture and talk about her books. Nope. I just said HI and kept on going.

Actually, Rainbow Con was for me a transition from quiet nobody, to someone who was not afraid to talk to people. I met a lot of great people there. One particular person, DAVID BERGER, became a lovely friend online whom I'd met at Rainbow Con yet barely spoke to THERE. I will remedy that situation this July!! Lori Toland is listed as an author for Rainbow Con this year so maybe I'll get a picture this time … hahaha. I am looking forward to going as I recognize SO MANY names on the attending author list. And hey, if any of you are going please let me know so I can look for you!!

Now, on with that interview!

WK -  What inspires your writing?

LT - Life inspires my writing. A lot of my underlying plot issues (like Blaze worrying what his grandmother will say about him being gay) come from my friends and family who have confessed their greatest fears. I hope conveying these issues in a format that is fun to read makes the reader think about their own lives, that maybe there is a family member that might be scared to tell them the truth about their sexuality.  (Life inspires my writing too. I get it.)

WK -  When did you start writing m/m romance?

LT - Oh boy, back in 1999, not long after I started writing. I really loved it and there was nothing like it back then in the market. I wanted to read it, so I wrote it. (You've been doing this a long time!)

WK -  Who is your favorite character in Encore and why?

LT - I really love Pete. He’s such a multi-faceted character and very much demanding his own book. I’ve written a lot of scenes for his book, just to get him out of my head. *sigh* he still sticks around.

WK - How much of yourself did you manifest into your favorite character?

LT - Pete? Not that much, but I suspect we’ll see a little bit of me in him in his book. All the characters have a little piece of me, whether it’s Blaze being a dreamer and Jason being a business geek. Jennifer is probably the closest to me than any of my characters.

WK -  Can you share four things you’ve learned about the business?

1.   Keep writing.
2.   Writing is not as easy as it looks.
3.   Being a published author is as awesome as it looks.
4.   Cake…wait, what was that question again?

LOL Cake hahaha. But good answers!

WK - How do you keep your creative "spark" alive?

LT - I love listening to music while walking. I let my mind wander and I try not to walk out into traffic while daydreaming about my characters. I never stop dreaming but I get my best plotting done while walking — and I get a workout!

WK -  If you could sit down to dinner with one person, past or present, who would it be and what’s the one question you’d love to ask?

LT - My great-grandmother. She had so many amazing stories passed down from her ancestors. She was Cherokee and a direct descendant of John Ross, who led the Cherokees along the trail of tears. I would ask her to tell me the stories that were passed down to her.

WK - What is your suggestion or piece of advice to new and upcoming writers?

LT - Never stop writing. When you hit send on your first book, start your next one while waiting to hear back on that one.

AMEN! Been there, done that! I think it is the expectation of rejection that kept me on the edge of my seat until I heard back and paralyzed with fear so I couldn't write until I knew something. Good advice, Lori!

WK - Where we can find you on the Internet?

WK - Could you please share your favorite excerpt from Encore with us?

Gladly! I hope you enjoy it! :)

“Hey bro.”

Blaze turned around and grinned at Tommy, the lead singer of their band. “Hey man,” he said and gave him a one arm hug.

“I’ve gotta talk to you real quick.”


Suddenly there were a dozen people on stage with them as they moved the set around. Zack’s drums were already set up on the stage and Blaze’s guitar rested in the stand from the tour. Blaze turned back to Tommy. “We’ll talk later, yeah?”

Tommy shook his head. “It’s important. You’re gonna freak the fuck out.”

Blaze frowned as he dug in his pocket for his guitar pick. “What’s wrong?”

An announcement that rang out drowned his answer and Tommy threw up his hands in exasperation. After the introduction ended, he yelled, “Really? We’re trying to have a conv—” Tommy froze midsentence and looked over Blaze’s shoulder.

When he turned, he saw the one person he hoped never to see again in his life. In a town as small as Hollywood, he knew that wasn’t realistic but he had hoped they would be able to continue keeping their distance from each other.

As he looked up into Jason Stockton’s narrowed dark brown eyes, his heart pounded. The sliver of trepidation was drowned in the instantaneous desire that surged within him. Even though Jason had nearly destroyed him, Blaze still wanted him.

Jason Stockton had been his first real relationship and they had been head-over-heels in love until one stupid moment when they threw it all away. Though their fight had seemed important at the time, it had been stupid. Blaze knew that now.

Their disagreement over Cassie had been fueled by lack of sleep; their argument had spiraled out of control until they called it quits. Their very public break-up left Blaze’s heart shattered. Somehow over the past year, he had managed to avoid Jason and Blaze would have given anything to continue that winning streak.

He glared at Jason. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Blaze Shinozuka is a bonafide rockstar with his band, Razor's Edge. After his romance with music manager Jason Stockton crashed and burned, Blaze is free to live and love. It's been a wild and heady year that's been blissfully drama free until the one man he's been avoiding comes careening back in to wreak havoc on his heart once again.

Jason Stockton has become the superstar he never wanted to be. When his music reality show becomes an overnight success, he's thrust into the limelight against his will. He's coping with intrusions into his private life but then a chance encounter sends him right into the arms of the man he loved...and lost.

Their time apart has changed them, except the passion between them burns brighter than ever. With the media hounding them in the midst of multiple scandals, they find they can only depend on one person — each other. Will they learn to trust that their love is enough to see them through it all? Or will this be their final dance before calling it quits, this time for good?

This gay romance was formerly known as Into The Light and contains less loving than previous books in the series but more anger and snark. It also contains some female lovin', beloved character death and a possibly repentant pop star.  (Thank you for these "warnings.")

Book Links-
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21954310-encore?ac=1
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1dQGPUy
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-replacement-guitarist-4-encore-lori-toland/1120271383?ean=9781500872908

About the author:
CEO by day, erotic romance writer by night, Lori Toland lives in Orlando where the summers are hot but the romance between her characters is even hotter. Writing since the tender age of 13, Lori somehow finds time to play video games and watch movies while taking care of her beloved cats and a husband who will forever be her hero.