ASSASSINS LOVE PEOPLE TOO

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I have a blog tour going run by Creative Minds Blog Tours for the second book in my Assassins in Love series and the title for my latest is Assassins Love People Too.

My first stop is Rick R. Reed’s Blog where you’ll find the schedule for the other stops along the way. There’s a give away of course! Did you think I would forget how much you love free things? Never!

Enter to win a $10 Amazon gift card and book 1 & 2 in my Assassins in Love series.

EXCERPT:

Don’t trust anyone.

She raised her brows. “Do you have a name?”

I have several.

I said the first thing that popped into my mind. “Fred.” I’m not sure why that name came to me. I didn’t really feel like a Fred. It seemed like someone named Fred should have a pipe and a smoking jacket.

Not missing a beat, she asked, “Well, Fred, where in the States are you from?”

I avoided her gaze and fibbed some more. “Oregon.” Had lies always fallen off my tongue so easily, or was it meeting Marc that had brought out my storytelling abilities?

“Oh, is that right? What part?” Without waiting for my response, she continued, “My brother lives in Eugene. He’s older than me by about five years.” She clasped her hands in her lap and looked at me expectantly.

I didn’t really know anything about Oregon, so I just tossed out the first city I could think of. “I live in Portland.”

“That’s farther north than where Ted lives. Ted’s my brother. He owns a little grocery store up there. I wouldn’t have the courage to own my own business, but Ted says he loves it.” She scanned my face with her curious gaze, and I knew she expected me to give her some details about my fake life in Portland.

Instead of responding to her, I just looked away, and an awkward silence fell. I felt like a total prick ignoring her, but I knew the last thing in the world Marc would approve of was me making a new friend. His voice on the phone had been as close to panicked as I’d ever heard him, and that made me uneasy as hell.

She gave a funny little laugh and waited a few more seconds, but when I didn’t speak, she pulled a paperback mystery from her pocket. “I’ll just read and leave you alone.”

My cheeks warmed, and I felt like a jerk. But I knew the more I talked, the more she’d want to know, and that was a bad idea. “Sorry. I’m just really tired.”

Waving her hand at me, she said, “You don’t have to apologize. I need to finish this darn book one of these days anyhow.” She nestled down into her seat and focused her attention on the novel.

Resting my head against the cool glass, I watched the scenery flash by. Towering beige buildings and skinny palm trees made up most of the view. After an hour or so, the lackluster structures were replaced by the sparkling Mediterranean coastline and the beautiful Côte d’Azur, where white villas and bright pink and yellow umbrellas lined the shore. My thoughts continued to be fixed on Marc. I closed my eyes, giving into the worry. Was he safe? According to the ticket agent, this train ride was roughly six hours, and that seemed like a lifetime after that frantic call from Marc.

The stress of not knowing what came next was exhausting, and the rocking of the train was lulling. After a few hours of fighting sleep, my heavy lids dropped, and I drifted off. My dreams were chaotic with faceless villains chasing me down the streets of Paris. Marc was there, but I couldn’t quite see him clearly, and whenever I yelled for him, he shook his head. I jerked awake when someone touched my arm.

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PAINFUL LESSONS GIVEAWAY!

Painful Lessons is the story of Brett Bridgeworth’s first year in college. He runs into a few problems when he falls under the spell of an obsessive guy. It was written by tapping into those strange, insecure emotions of the new adult years. We’ve all been there. Maybe we didn’t have to go through what Brett goes through in this story, but we were all messed up, emotional kids at one point.

PainfulLessonsFSI guess if I’m honest I still often feel like that awkward kid. I think that person is still very much alive inside of me. I think I’d hoped that as I got older all my insecurities and pressure to measure up would just fall away. But it didn’t, and I don’t think it ever will.

GIVEAWAY!!

Do you ever still feel like you’re that gawky kid from the past? Or do you have it all together now that you’re all growds up? Tell me how you see yourself now. Let me into your mind and heart.

Leave a comment below and I’ll pick three people whose answers resonate with me for a free copy of Painful Lessons.

 

BLURB:

As a freshman both in love and in college, sometimes there are painful lessons to be learned.

Excited to begin his first year of college, Brett Bridgeworth has just one problem: he sucks at math. Luckily there’s the sensual and mysterious math tutor, Jeremy Price, to help him out. It isn’t long before Jeremy is tutoring Brett in more than just pie charts, but it isn’t until they split up that Brett discovers Jeremy’s twisted, obsessive side.

Sam Hawthorne is two years ahead of Brett, and they share a strong mutual attraction. When Brett breaks it off with Jeremy and gets involved with Sam, disturbing things start happening. It soon becomes obvious that Jeremy isn’t willing to let Brett go without a fight.download

EXCERPT:

I definitely don’t want what I’m about to share to look like I’m bragging. But I think it’s important to give a glimpse into my first sexual experiences because it has a lot to do with who I am, or at least who I was, when I went through all of that shit with Jeremy. Looking back, now I can see so clearly that I was like a sail with the line sliced, flapping uselessly in the cool sea breeze. Well, maybe I’m getting ahead of the story a little bit. I tend to do that sometimes.

I’ve always been bad at math. I mean, like, really awful. But I’d managed to get through high school because my teachers liked me. Mr. Winter, my algebra teacher, liked me a whole lot. So much so that, senior year, he made a deal with me; he’d give me an A if I let him suck me off.

Mr. Winter wasn’t one of those hot teachers we students fantasized about. He wore a lot of loud polyester shirts, and he had a pot belly. I went back and forth about his offer, and I did a bit of research on the Internet so I’d know what I was getting into. But ultimately I agreed, because if I failed algebra I’d be held back, and that would be way too embarrassing to me and, more importantly, my dad.

My dad owns Bridgeworth Electronics, and if his kid failed high school he’d probably have a heart attack. So I let Mr. Winter pull the blinds, unzip my jeans, and do his thing. The sight of him on his knees and the glare off his shiny bald head was all very surreal. I remember being super nervous because, while I was eighteen and I knew I liked guys, I’d never been touched by one yet. It was just me and my faithful hand, up until Mr. Winter introduced me to fellatio.

At his first touch I was numb inside and grappling with insecurities. Would I come too soon? Would he be too rough? Or worst of all, was he going to make me suck him off? But the initial warm slide of his mouth chased those fears away. Old dude or not, my eyes rolled back in my head, and I’d thrust into his mouth, oblivious to the world around me. Afterward he’d grinned up at me with a crooked, lecherous smile, as if we were somehow coconspirators.

For my first time, it was a little seedy and humiliating. I’d certainly never pictured my initiation to a BJ happening quite like that. But I had to admit his lips on me still felt great, so I shoved down the feelings of shame and took my A. I never saw Mr. Winter again, and I went on toward college still horrible in math but no longer pure as the driven snow.

I spent my summer waiting for responses from the colleges I’d applied to, and worried someone would find out about me and Mr. Winter’s arrangement. Would they be able to retract my grade if they knew what I’d done to get it? I’ll admit to feeling guilty about the whole arrangement with Mr. Winter, but the thought of failing had been too terrifying. When my acceptance letter arrived from UCLA, I put thoughts of my old math teacher behind me and spent the rest of the break celebrating with my friends.

I will say, after my sexual encounter with Mr. Winter, it was as if my hormones woke up for real. I became a horndog of epic proportions. My dad hired a new pool guy for the summer, and he was the opposite of Mr. Winter. This guy was probably in his thirties and hot. I mean smoking, Zac Efron hot. We exchanged lusty looks for a few weeks before anything actually happened. One day after swimming, I was showering in the small side building near the garden, and Lex walked in on me.

He set his pool skimmer against the wall and pulled his shirt off with one yank. I swallowed the lump forming in my throat and waited for him to make the first move. Soundlessly he dropped his shorts and underwear and walked up to me. I couldn’t believe what was happening, but I was excited to think this gorgeous guy wanted to do things to and with me. I believe I said a breathy, “Hi.”

“How old are you, Brett?” he’d asked, almost as if it was an afterthought.

“Eighteen,” I responded right before he pushed me against the slick white tiles and took my mouth roughly.

He tasted like tobacco and cinnamon, and his hands were rough on my hips. His cock wasn’t as wide as mine, but it was longer and it fit next to mine nicely. When the kiss ended, he began grinding his cock against mine, and the heat that flared in my groin was like an inferno. I grasped his shoulders and held on as lust rumbled through me like a steam engine. It wasn’t romantic by any stretch of the imagination. The ceramic tiles were freezing against my back, and they hurt my shoulder blades, but I didn’t care. I was young and ready to explore what I needed sexually.

I’d had a growth spurt toward the end of high school, and I was slightly taller than Lex. I clutched his damp chestnut curls and panted against the orgasm gathering at the base of my cock. He was louder than me. He groaned a lot and cussed as he threw his head back and flexed his hips like a jackhammer. I liked his noises. They were guttural and dirty, and they made me excited as my need ramped even higher. When we came the warm water washed the evidence down the drain as if it never happened.

I remember he stroked my cheek afterward, as I stared into his golden-flecked brown eyes. “That was nice,” he panted, and then he washed under the water with me, dried off with my towel, and got dressed. Right before he left, he turned and asked me, “Are you a virgin?”

I’m sure my cheeks turned red. They were warm now, thinking about how embarrassed I’d been to answer yes. Not to mention I wasn’t even sure if I was answering correctly. Was I a virgin? Did blow jobs count, or did not having had anal make me a virgin? But Lex had just smiled and quietly closed the door. I wasn’t a “virgin” much longer because a week later, Lex took me in that little shower area. I still remember the smell of the coconut-scented lube and the first burning glide of his cock in my untouched ass.

I learned a lot from Lex. The guy had zero inhibitions. We fucked our way through that hot summer, and when it came time to leave for college, I was thankful I didn’t have to go there not knowing anything about sex. I’d assumed I’d show up at UCLA horrible in math and a virgin, but thanks to Lex, only the “bad at math” part was still true.

My dad didn’t have time to drive with me to my new school. He said something about a crisis in the capacitor industry. I didn’t know what he was talking about, and it didn’t really matter because it wasn’t like it was negotiable or anything. Hey, how about you come to my college, see my room, and pretend you give a shit about me for a day? I’ll bake brownies for you?

Yeah, not gonna happen.

I guess at this point, I should mention the reason it was only me and him was because my mom died when I was ten. She went in for a routine hysterectomy and never came home. I remember coming back from school and finding my aunt Rose sobbing in the kitchen. She’d hugged me and my dad, and stayed for weeks to cook casseroles and keep the house clean. But after that she’d had to go back to her family in New York. Aunt Rose called me and my dad “her boys,” and she phoned to check on us often. But my dad’s never home, and I didn’t want to talk about my mom dying, so the time between calls had become longer and longer.

So back to my college experience. My roommate, Ted, was nothing like me. He was boisterous and loud and straight as a ruler. He was hugely into sports and talked about football nonstop. I, on the other hand, knew little about that subject, preferring reading and sketching to getting dirty and running around a field with a pigskin.

We still found some common ground since we both enjoyed eating. We always went to the cafeteria together for all our meals. Generally his jock friends would descend, and I’d sit mostly in silence, shoveling my cheese macaroni in like a machine. I think having Ted as my roommate protected me from being picked on by his homophobic buddies. They gave me hard looks and didn’t sit too close to me, but nobody ever said a disrespectful word to me.

One of the guys I didn’t mind so much. He had auburn hair and light green eyes, and he always smelled like vanilla. His name was Sam Hawthorne, and he was the only one who would speak to me without looking like he was afraid my gayness would get on him. I didn’t hide that I was gay, but I also didn’t flaunt it. The “gayest” thing I did was wear a small diamond stud in my ear that was one half of a pair of earrings my mom had owned. I didn’t wear the earring to make a statement as much as it made me feel connected to my mom.

I soon learned I liked being away from home. When nobody knew me, I could be different and didn’t have to play the role I’d always felt had been thrust on me: good son. Grieving son. It had been eight years since my mom died, and while I missed her and her quirky sense of humor, I wanted to live a little. These were my college years, and I was expecting to have new and exciting experiences. I wasn’t supposed to sit around trying to remember what my mom looked like, although sometimes the fact that I had trouble recalling her features bugged me a lot and made me feel like a horrible person. So I’d pull out the crinkled picture I kept in my wallet. The photo was of a family vacation at the beach a year before she died. She looked happy, and we were both smiling like idiots. My dad wasn’t in the picture, and I guess I mean that both literally and figuratively.

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ASSASSINS ARE PEOPLE TOO.

SCWYNNE_ASSASSINSAREPEOPLETOO__COVERlgI was thinking about how everybody seems to need love. Even tough types who pretend they don’t, probably do. Even if it’s just a friend’s love. What is it about having people care about us that makes us happy? I know there are some single people who will say they’re perfectly happy on their own. But they aren’t truly on their own because being single doesn’t mean you don’t have family and friends who love you. 

What is it about being loved that makes you happy? Why couldn’t you be just as thrilled on your own?

ANSWER IN THE COMMENT SECTION AND THE THREE ANSWERS THAT RESONATE THE MOST WITH ME WILL WIN A FREE COPY OF MY LATEST STORY FROM LOOSE ID.

Now here’s an excerpt from Assassins Are People Too:

I stepped into the elevator, noticing my favorite twentysomething blond guy tucked neatly in the corner, holding a huge potted plant. We’d exchanged flirty glances over the months, but nothing more. He shifted his baby-blue gaze toward me and then slowly disappeared behind the fronds of the shrub. Hiding wouldn’t do him any good, because I made it a point to know who my neighbors were. It was safer that way.

The ding of the elevator distracted me from my musings, and when a tall Hispanic guy entered the car, I gave him all my attention. He was new to the building. Something was off. He was sweating way more than was normal for January in New York. I didn’t care for the way he watched me out of the corner of his eye either. He was hunting.

We all rode in companionable silence for a few floors with various people getting on and off. I noticed Slick—that was my nickname for the Hispanic guy because of his perspiration issue—glanced impatiently toward Blondie occasionally. I had a strong feeling he was frustrated that Blondie wasn’t getting off the car. That only made me even more suspicious of him.

As we neared the top floors, I guess Slick came to the end of his patience. He stepped to the side and slammed his palm on the elevator Stop button. The car lurched, and Blondie fell forward, dropping his plant and landing at my feet. Since I’d fantasized about him being on his knees in front of me numerous times, it distracted me just enough to give Slick time to take a swing at me. I barely got my arm up in time to block the punch.

I didn’t like Blondie being too near the action since I would’ve hated for his pretty face to get messed up. “Get in the corner,” I growled at him, wrestling with Slick.

Blondie scrambled back to his favorite spot, his eyes huge. Slick and I traded blows for a few minutes, and I did a few front kicks to show off, but Slick still somehow managed to get a knife out of his pocket. I had to give it to him. He was pretty good. I slapped the weapon out of his fist, and he whacked the side of my face with his elbow. I saw stars for a second. Slick shoved me against the mirrored back of the elevator and put his big, beefy hands around my throat.

This was embarrassing. The last thing I wanted was to die in front of Blondie. I kneed Slick in his groin, and he grunted like a bull, only loosening his grip slightly. Was he wearing a cup, or did he literally have balls of steel? It was hard to say.

I was getting light-headed from the lack of oxygen. How had I let this happen? I’d been too distracted by Blondie, I guess. I was going to pass out. Shit. That meant I was going to die, because Slick wasn’t here to play Twister—he was here to end me.

There was a flash of movement and shards of ceramic pieces and potting mix rained down on my head. Suddenly I could breathe. Slick was at my feet moaning, and Blondie was staring at me as if he wanted to be sick. His plant was in a pile on top of Slick, and I was alive because of it.

He’d sacrificed his rubber plant for me. What a guy.

I smacked the button to get moving again, and the elevator came to a stop at the next floor. When the doors swooshed open, I grabbed Blondie’s hand and pulled him after me, past the half-blind screeching lady from 36B. If I’d been alone, I’d have finished Slick off. It was risky not to. But if Blondie was stressed over his plant dying, he’d probably have a coronary if I killed Slick in front of him. We couldn’t go to my place. That was obvious. But I didn’t want to leave the building immediately in case Slick had someone watching the exits. I slipped into the stairwell, and we trudged up three flights of stairs to Blondie’s floor. From there I headed straight for Blondie’s apartment.

“Open it,” I commanded in a clipped voice when we reached his door.

“How did you know my apartment number?”

“I’m observant.”

SCWYNNE_ASSASSINSAREPEOPLETOO__BANNER

 

NO MORE HIDING. IT’S LIVE!

I was a guest on Remmy Duchene’s blog and I thought I would go ahead and reblog what I wrote in case my followers hadn’t had a chance to read it.

Hiding Things

By S.C. Wynne

HidingThings_postcard_front_DSPThe idea for Hiding Things was inspired by memories and insecurities from my college days. I was a middle class kid, fortunate enough to get a full scholarship to a very expensive university in Malibu, CA. Most of the kids there were wealthy. Or I should say their parents were rich. I’d never thought that much about what I had and didn’t have as far as money went. I wasn’t a materialistic person then, or now, to be honest. That could not be said of many of my classmates.

I made some really great friends while I was there. But I remember being at parties where everyone was talking about all they’d accomplished and what great aspirations they had, and all I really wanted was to live a happy, simple life. I felt out of place and judged. I now wonder if most of that wasn’t coming from inside of me. Certainly some of it wasn’t. There were those who summed me up as unworthy and moved on to talk with those more like themselves. But what I also learned was most of those kids had just as many insecurities and problems as I did. They just hid them under a more affluent cover.

In the long run I figured out that it would be a hollow and sad thing to fight to be accepted for who I wasn’t.

There are those who will love you for what you have, and there are those who will love you for who you are. I choose the latter. I choose not to hide.

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WORK IN PROGRESS-A LITTLE DARKER THAN USUAL.

Howdy all,

I’ve been working on a story that’s darker than usual. My stuff always has tons of angst, but this one deals with suicide. It’s a New Adult story about a high school senior whose best friend kills himself. He finds out a lot about his friend and himself while dealing with the aftermath. This story was hard to write and easy all at the same time. It’s allowed me to tap into so many forgotten feelings from high school and college it’s been cathartic.depressed-boy

Ultimately, of course, my MC finds his way out of his depression by meeting an equally damaged individual. They help each other become whole again.

Here’s an excerpt: (Be warned there are sweary words)

I’m distracted by my thoughts of how terrified I am at ever making the first move when I hear Rory’s mother call my name. I’m frozen in place. What does she want?

“I’d love it if you’d say a few words, Lane.” She dabs at her red rimmed eyes with her tissue. “You knew him better than anyone.”

Finally. Validation that I was his best friend. I meet Baron’s gaze feeling triumphant. Until it sinks in she wants me to speak in front of everyone. I can’t do that. Does she not realize I never talk in front of people? How does she not know this about me? Why in God’s name did she not at least warn me, so I could have had some time to think about what to say? I swallow against the bile threatening to rise in my throat. With any luck I won’t throw up on the poor unsuspecting priest.

I force myself to walk to her side. I feel like I’m dragging my unwilling limbs along like a zombie. I’m certainly numb enough to be one of the undead. She takes my hand and I’m sure she must feel how cold and clammy my skin is. What should I say? Certainly not what I want to say; Fuck you, Rory, for killing yourself. Rot in hell Rory for leaving me here with all these other nobodies. I clear my throat, stalling for time. She’s shifting restlessly beside me. Well, lady, maybe you could have given me some God damned warning. That would have been nice.

“Rory was my best friend.” Great opening, genius. Everyone already knows this. My throat is like a rusty gate swinging open after years of disuse. Say something witty. Say something thought provoking. Say something. “I remember the first day I met Rory. He stopped some guys from tossing me head first into a trash can.”

That gets a little laugh. Perhaps I’m on a roll, now.

The smell of damp earth is heavy in the air, and a soft breeze blows my hair. Relax. Think about Rory. “From that point on Rory was always my protector.”

I see his face clearly in my mind. I’d had trouble doing that earlier, but now it’s there. I hear his husky laugh, and remember how he smells like the ocean when he hugs me. My heart aches because I never get to hold him again. “No one bothered me because they would have Rory to deal with.”

 I meet his mom’s gaze and there are tears streaming on her face. I gulp, pushing down the emotions that want to bubble up. “He was kind and…”  I’m shaking like a jackhammer as all eyes are on me. “He was sensitive…”

Why are they all watching me so intently? They must think I’m going to say something amazing. I’m not. Sweat trickles down my back and my legs prickle from the heat.  I’ll be lucky if I don’t pass out in the flower arrangements. “He was funny.” A crow squawks as it passes overhead. This moment would only be improved if he let loose a load of bird crap on my head. At least it would distract everyone from how awful my speech is.

Rory deserves such a better eulogy than I’m giving. God I suck. His image comes to my mind and my gut aches. I miss him. It’s like he’s been gone forever and it’s only been a week. I let him down so bad. I should have been more alert. I’m so fucking stupid. He needed me to notice and I missed the signs. I missed the signs and now Rory is gone forever. I’m so fucking useless.

I whisper, “I let him die. I failed my best friend and now he’s dead.”

There’s a gasp from the group of people staring. I drop Rory’s mom’s hand and head straight for my mother’s car. I can hear people mumbling in confusion but I just keep walking in a straight determined line. Why did my mom park so far away? I only stop when someone grabs my arm.

“Wait up, Lane.” I turn to find Baron beside me. He has that same nervous look again. The one that says he knows I don’t approve of him being Rory’s secret friend.

I’m embarrassed because hot tears are spilling down my cheeks. The statue is crying after all. “I failed him,” I choke out.

“No.”

I feel like I’m going to drown in my tears. “I’m a worthless piece of shit.”

“No. God, no.” Baron surprises me when he pulls me into his arms. He squeezes me so tight I feel like I can’t breathe, but I don’t really care. I’m tired of breathing anyway. His body is hard and warm. I can hear his heart pounding under my ear. “He hid it from you. He knew you’d try to protect him and he didn’t want that.”

I nod, even though it’s hard with him holding me so close. “He tricked me.”

Baron gives a tiny, hard laugh. “He fooled both of us.”

“I’m so angry at him.” My voice shakes with rage.

“Me too.”

He lets me go, and I swipe the tears off my face roughly. I don’t know why I started crying. Maybe it’s because everyone was staring at me. I hate speaking in front of people. Now I’m mad at Rory’s mom for making me do that.

Baron grips my shoulder. “Can we go get that coffee now? I can’t take another second of this scene.”

I can’t just leave without telling my mom where I’ve gone. But there’s no way in hell I’m walking back over to that group of gawking people. My hands tremble as I text Kit and ask him to tell mom I’m going to coffee with a friend. Kit and my mom know my only real friend was Rory, so they will probably be even more confused by my text.

I follow Baron to his black sports car. I give one parting glance toward the group of mourners. I’m just in time to see them lowering my best friend in the world into the cold, hard ground.

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KISS AND TELL by S.C. Wynne

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Here’s my latest from Evernight Publishing.

Beau Dexter is a male escort with zero belief in love. He had a rough beginning in life, and he’s not looking for anything other than a full roster of satisfied clients.

Seth Fontaine is blind and grieving the loss of his lover five years ago. But even a broken-hearted man has needs, and that’s where Beau comes in.

Neither one of them is looking for anything other than a little superficial fun. But when these two damaged men connect on a much deeper level than expected, Beau’s extreme fear of emotional intimacy almost derails them before they even begin.

EXCERPT:

I peered into the dark room behind her and glimpsed a cozy fire flickering but no other source of light. Two large armchairs faced the hearth where I assumed the mysterious Seth must be sitting.

“You can go in. Just don’t trip over the dog.” Maggie waved and sauntered back down the hall the way we’d just come.

“Don’t be afraid. I won’t bite.” The same voice from earlier came faintly through the door.

I stepped into the room, conscious of Maggie’s warning about a dog, and headed toward the direction of the voice.

“Sorry. I’m having a little trouble seeing you,” I said.

“Ha. That only seems fair.”

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I found him finally, seated in a large wing backed chair directly in front of the fire. I held out my hand and he ignored it. I figured he couldn’t see me any better than I could see him in the gloom. There was a jingling sound and a fluffy canine of some indescribable breed circled around in front of the fire, and then plopped down with a grunt.

“That’s Felice. She won’t bite.”

Since the dog had done little else than breathe since I’d arrived, I had no doubt my safety wasn’t threatened. “Did you want to stay here or go to your bedroom?” I asked, slipping out of my pea coat and draping it over another chair.

“Well, if we stay down here we’ll have to wrestle Felice for a spot in front of the fire.”

I laughed. “True. She looks very comfortable.”

“What’s your name?”

“Beau Dexter.”

“Fancy.”

“Oh, yeah. That’s me all right. I thought about wearing my top hat, but I decided against it.”

He laughed. “I don’t know if the agency explained I like to talk first and get to know the person I’m going to fuck. Hope that’s not a problem for you.”

I wasn’t used to people being so blunt. But, after all, that was why I was here. “Not at all. For the money you’re paying you could paint my nails for all I care.”

He stood, and he was slightly taller than me, with wide shoulders and long legs. The flickering fire cast shadows on his angular features, and I could see he was handsome in an aristocratic sort of way. “Do you want a drink? Some of the guys prefer to be buzzed when they screw. Are you that kind?”

“I prefer my senses to be unaffected if that’s alright.” I had nothing against having a few drinks with a client, but when I didn’t know them I preferred to be completely sober, so I could cue into what seemed to please them and what didn’t.

“Huh, a man with a good work ethic. How refreshing.”

I couldn’t tell if he was kidding, because he seemed to have a dry sense of humor. “It feels better for me too if I’m not drunk.” I attempted a flirty vibe.

He inhaled sharply. “Interesting. A whore who actually likes to fuck.”

“Depends on the client.” I didn’t take offense at his use of the word ‘whore’ since I had a feeling he was doing it on purpose to see if he could push my buttons. I found sometimes men who used escort services seemed to resent the fact that they liked using escort services.

He laughed and the sound was warm and charming, definitely at odds with his prickly demeanor. “Oh, thank God. You have a sense of humor. The last two didn’t get me at all.”

I smiled but didn’t speak.

“Why are you a prostitute?” he asked abruptly.

Was this him ‘getting to know me’?

I’d never had a John ask me why I had sex for money. Most of them were just happy to get down to business. I weighed whether to be honest with him, or to lie and tell him a story that might seem more romantic. People seemed to respond to things like my mother needs surgery for cancer and she has zero medical insurance, or I’m putting my little brother through college. I think lies made those of us in my profession seem selfless and noble.

“That’s quite a pause.” He laughed. “Trying to make up a lie?”

“No. I have plenty of those ready to go.”

I could make out a white smile in the shadows of his face. “Me too.”

He intrigued me. He was friendly and yet standoffish all at the same time. “What do you lie about?”

“Life. But I lie to myself mostly.” I grinned.

“Do you mind if I ask why you pay for sex?” He was extremely good looking, and seemed intelligent and articulate. I was curious as to why he’d use our service.

“Ah, ah, ah. You haven’t answered me yet.”

Sighing, I leaned against the chair behind me. “I do it mostly for the money. Boring I know. But I also do it because I enjoy it. I have a strong carnal appetite, and I enjoy fucking horny men. Plus, people who pay for sex are different from people you hook up with in a bar.”

“In what way?” he asked softly.

“Well, random people in a club are looking for love, aren’t they?” I tilted toward him as I spoke. “I mean, they pretend they aren’t, and they know the odds are slim. But they just keep hoping.” I held up my crossed fingers.

“And you aren’t?”

I huffed. “What, hopeful? Looking for love? No.”

“Why?” He sounded breathless.

“Because I don’t believe in love.” I lifted my chin. I was slightly nonplussed to be discussing my personal beliefs about such things.

“Uh, oh.” He smirked. “Did some boyfriend break your heart?”

I moved away and ran my hand over my coat. This conversation had certainly taken an odd turn. “That would be a cliché, don’t you think?”

“It would be disappointing. I must admit. I would hope your story is more complex, because you seem slightly mysterious. It would be so boring if you just caught your boyfriend fucking some other guy in your bed, and you swore off love for all eternity.”

“I promise you it isn’t anything that simple.”

He rubbed his hands together. “God, you’re getting me all turned on.”

I laughed and returned to my spot closer to him. “Good. That’s why I’m here.” I leaned in as I spoke and tried to sound seductive.

“Is that a subtle hint you’d rather stop talking about yourself?” That white smile reappeared.

“I still haven’t heard why you use hookers.” I glanced around the room. Now that my eyes were adjusted to the gloom I could see there were some nice, expensive pieces of furniture. There were wall to wall bookcases, and a Georgian-style leather top writing desk that would easily go for three thousand dollars. The walls were adorned with tapestries and ornately framed paintings. “Rich guys don’t usually have any trouble getting laid, especially good looking rich guys.”

“Oh, well thank you. But unlike you I actually do believe in love.” He spoke quietly. “Or at least I did. I’ve had my chance at it and now it’s gone.”

The poignant tremor in his voice got to me. “What do you mean?”

He sighed. “I lost the love of my life. Well, I didn’t misplace him or anything. He died.”

“Oh, God. I’m so sorry.”

He shrugged. “It was five years ago.”

“Still, I’m sure it’s very painful.” I touched his arm and noticed he moved away ever so slightly.

Laughing gruffly, he crossed his arms. “Well, even a man with a broken heart has needs. That’s where you come in.”

“I’ll do what I can to help you forget.”

He smirked. “No. You’re here to help me remember.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Sex helps me feel alive again. I don’t really love people that much and I keep to myself mostly. When I do force myself to go out and socialize, it’s hard not to resent the happiness other couples have because I’ve lost Darren. I’m afraid losing him has changed me for the worst. Most of the time, I walk around like a zombie trying to feel something. Anything, really.”

I was touched with an urge to help him. To please him. Hopefully, he could grab a few hours of pleasure with me and he’d feel renewed on some level. I could see his handsome features fairly well by now, and I had a sudden urge to kiss his full lips.

He sucked in a breath when I touched his belt buckle. “What are you doing?”

“My job.” I leaned in and kissed him. His warm lips parted in surprise, sending a little zip of excitement straight to my balls. When the lip lock was over I said, “I came here to fuck you, and I’m going to do that now.” Once his buckle was undone, I slowly lowered the zipper, noticing his crotch was bulged. Good. He was already turned on. That made my job a little easier.

He swallowed loudly, and his breathing sped up. “I thought we might go upstairs first.”

I chuckled and pushed his pants below his hips, aroused by his gasp. “No.”

“Okay.”

“Have you ever been fucked bent over a chair, Seth?” I whispered.

He shook his head, and his clean male scent reached my nostrils. “No.”

“You’re going to love it. You’ll see.” I pulled a packet of lube and a condom from my pocket, and I turned him slowly until his back was to me. “Bend over.” I ran my hand up his spine, kneading the tense muscles.

He hesitated and then complied. “Be gentle,” he said softly.

“That’s not really what you want, now is it, Seth?”

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EDITS SOMETIMES FEEL LIKE A TRIP TO THE DENTIST

Editors are my partners in crime. I know this intellectually. But still, whenever I see edits sitting in my in-box, I must admit my stomach clenches. I instinctively brace for what’s to come.

Courage-First-Step

 

Some publishing houses are pretty intense. Others do a lighter edit. But they are all centered around pointing out how you did something wrong, or could do it differently. Just like the doctor with that damn tooth drill, no matter how much you floss and brush, the dentist always finds something you could have done better. Right? It’s the nature of the job.

But I also want to point out that I love my editors. LOVE them. Without them it would be a terrifying world. Sometimes I can’t believe the stuff they catch that I didn’t notice. I’ve accidentally changed the spelling of names, or mentioned someone is under twenty-one and then proceed to have them drinking wine at a restaurant. Hair colors change without warning. I would be lost without their watchful eyes. They protect me from myself. Plus, if you have a good editor they will give you positive feedback as well. I’ve been so fortunate to have great editors who encourage me and also enlighten me.teamwork

Every time I sell a story to a new publisher there’s a nervous anticipation until I meet the new editor. Will they get my voice? Will they understand my snarky humor? I’ve been so fortunate to have fantastic editors. We trade little funny comments back and forth. They make me laugh out loud a lot. I get a ton of strange looks from people who don’t understand why I’m guffawing at my computer.

The other side of the coin is editors are amazing in their ability to not take things personally. It’s such a relief to me that when I do disagree on something they don’t become offended. They are wonderful about accepting that we authors don’t always agree with them. I’m in awe of how beautifully they keep their egos in check. Editors discuss everything so rationally. It calms me because I know they will listen to my concerns, and not steam roll over me. That takes a special person to be able to do that.

I still remember my first edit. (I’m eyeballing you, Kathleen.)I had so much to learn. I still do. And I didn’t understand that many times editors are simply making suggestions. You don’t have to accept them. (Unless it’s house style or something non-negotiable. Like changing the capital of California to Santa Rosa because you think it’s prettier there than Sacramento.) In the beginning, I thought if an editor pointed something out I HAD to make the changes. That was definitely terrifying, and a bazillion times more stressful than it needed to be. Yes, a bazillion. You heard me. I’m grateful that my editors insist on how important it is for me to love my story. They encourage me to not make changes that will ruin the book for me.

I guess these feelings I have are normal. I like it when something is normal about me. No one likes to be corrected or criticized. Even when you know the other person is right. The more seasoned authors I talk with even get stressed when edits arrive in their in-boxes. That’s comforting to know. No matter how long you’ve been writing, or brushing your teeth, there will always be more to learn.

I’m glad I have my editors along to guide me. I’m thankful for Kathleen Calhoun, Sue Adams, KC and Elizabeth London for all they have taught me and continue to teach me. I’m so proud and happy to work with them. I’m secure in the knowledge that they have my back. I won’t make a fool of myself if they have anything to say about it. And luckily they do have lots to say about it.

I’m eternally grateful for my editors. I have nothing but warm fuzzy feelings toward them. I wish I could say the same about my dentist.