Writing!

I’m working on a bonus story to add to my mailing list bribes. Hey, speaking of that, there are lots of free stories available for joining my mailing list. Anyway, here is an excerpt from one such story. The characters are from my story Like You A Latte. In this scene, a boy thinks about his impossible crush on another boy.

~

Asher

Asher Ford has everything. That’s what people think. Life is so easy for him. It’s not that simple.

Wait, do I sound ungrateful? I’m exceedingly blessed. I attend a prestigious high school, get good grades, and am lucky enough to call many people my friends. And maybe I look alright? Jamie says insecurity looks unbecoming on Fords. He always talks all pretentious-y when I doubt myself. I’m not sure who he’s trying to imitate because no one in my family talks that way, but he manages to make me smile.

Probably, I look alright. I don’t think I look bad. Jamie says drugstores are filled with bottles of product promising the kind of blonde hair I was born with, which I have to trust because I’ve never been inside a drugstore. My height is enviable, and my eyes are hard to look away from. That’s what Jamie says. Again, I don’t think I look bad, but he’s never noticed.

We all have our weaknesses. Spencer Sharp is mine.

Naturally intellectual, Spencer still pushes himself and strives for perfection. He works harder than everyone in our grade. Maybe harder than everyone in the entire school. Maybe the whole world. He’s always so focused. I get drawn in watching him, so I’m never prepared for the moment he looks up with his cool stare, jumbling my insides and making the thoughts leave my head.

For all the fortune and esteem my name brings, I’m a dumb kid with a hopeless crush.

No, it’s only hopeless if I don’t do something about it. I will do something. Today’s the day.

I’m asking Spencer Sharp to prom.

Book News, plus dinosaurs! One of these things isn’t true.

Have you ever played the game ‘two truths and a lie?’ Do you want to play now? Whatever you answered, I can’t hear you, so I’m just going to keep going. Okay, the way the game works is I say three things, then you guess which one is the lie. Ready? Again, I can’t hear you. Go!

1. F.N. Manning, me, has a new story available.

2. I actually have four new stories available.

3. The new thing I’m talking about is on sale right now!

Um, maybe I should build the suspense instead of just telling you the answer. I’m going to tell you anyway. Number three is the lie. Because the story is free, so there is no sale, because you never have to pay for it. Free!

When We Were Strangers is a prequel to the first book in the One More Thing Series, One Little Word. No knowledge of the series is required to read this short story. Well, there are actually four stories altogether, which are all included in the prequel.

Here is the beginning of one story. You literally need to know no information to read this, but I’m going to tell you some stuff anyway. Zach (and friends) crash a wedding, where he flirts with an older guy and goes on a quest.

~

Zach

Under no circumstances would I ever base my life choices around Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. Yes, they were rich and famous, but at what cost? They were still Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Which meant that my decision to crash a wedding reception occurred for one reason and only one reason: free alcohol.

The party took place in our hotel, and we had a break from our baseball tournament. Me, Luke Chambers, and Joey Wilson made a marginal effort to blend in by splitting the dressier clothing I packed. A formality, as getting caught hadn’t even occurred to me, because who really cared?

Apparently, Samuel cared. The uptight groomsman who seemed unfamiliar with fun and party etiquette, though watching Luke fail to bond with him was amusing.

“We’re no different than everyone else here,” Luke tried with a charming smile. “We just wanna have a good time.”

“Except everyone else was invited,” said the fun police.

Never great at thinking on his feet, Luke smiled harder, counting on his all-American good looks, green eyes earnest and dimples peeking out. “Come on, Sam—”

“It’s Samuel,” he corrected instantly with a glare. “Hardly on nickname basis as we’re strangers.”

“I’m Luke. Nice to meet you, Sam.” Luke held out his hand.

“It’s still Samuel.” Still Samuel stared at the outstretched hand dubiously until it was removed.

Luke sent me a desperate look. I mouthed ‘you got this,’ gave him a thumbs up, and left him to investigate the alcohol situation. Yes, we were best friends, but this way was more fun, and I still wanted to drink.

Sorry not sorry about stealing thunder from the bride I’d never met, but everyone could see Zach Ahmad looked damn fine. With flawless brown skin, expertly styled hair, and a roguish smirk, I… oh wait. There was a reason my amazing good looks were important. I would get to that momentarily.

As Luke took my dinner jacket, I only wore the under layers, a grey vest and a long-sleeved white dress shirt. My impeccably fit body was highlighted in the tailored clothing, and my ass looked incredible in the dark pants. Joey stole my red tie for himself as he was too big for my clothes, and he always wore whatever he wanted regardless of dress code anyway. I half respected that. I would respect it fully if he had better taste.

Anyway, back to Zach.

After discovering only those with wristbands got free, no-questions-asked alcohol, I glanced back towards Luke and caught Samuel’s eyes moving away from me. So… that could work. I interrupted Samuel boring Luke to death and took care of the situation, at least 70% sure Samuel wanted me.

Sometime after being awesome and gaining us admittance and free alcohol, I lost track of my friends. I stood at the edge of the dancefloor with Samuel. A peppy song about everything being great played loudly while people danced and had fun. A good time had by all, except for or including us? Unclear.

“Look Zach,” Samuel began, then faltered. “Do you go by Zach or Zachary? Is Zachariah an option?”

“Never,” I shot down, then sent him a small smile. “It’s Zach. Can I call you Sam?”

“Um, yeah,” he answered, nervous but no hesitation. “Sure, if you want.” He definitely wanted me.

“What’s on your mind, Sam?” I asked.

“Okay, one thing.” He seemed to psych himself up mentally before managing to speak. “Crashing a party for free booze when you’re obviously underage, uh.” Samuel shook his head. “I may not condone this, but I won’t stop you.”

“You did give us the wristbands.” I held up my wrist with the neon green band attached.

“Alright, I condone it a little.” He frowned, thinking. “Enabling, that might be the better term. I wanted to make clear, I’m not judging, but I am, well.” He shrugged helplessly. “I see through what you’re doing.”

“Okay?” I arched one eyebrow, the gesture and single word slightly dismissive out of habit. Some people had ‘resting bitch face.’ ‘Resting bitch everything’ was my default setting.

“Apparently I’m alright with corrupting a minor, but I’m not an idiot,” he explained, potentially flushing. Hard to tell with his beard. “I saw through the plan, that’s all. I want to be clear.” He crossed his arms. No jacket, sleeves rolled up, lots of hair there. “I sound silly, don’t I?”

“A little, yeah.” I smiled. “Though I do understand where you’re coming from. Going along with it is different than being duped. I’d be bothered at the impression of being outsmarted by a bunch of high school jocks too.”

His blue eyes widened with panic. “You’re in high school?”

Shit. “You didn’t know? You said—”

“21 is the legal drinking age! Which by the way, I am also younger than. Not that I’ve imbibed.”

“Gonna start?” Rhetorical, because my invitations weren’t turned down. The only thing I did better than resting bitch everything was becoming inviting.

His head bobbed up and down in a nervous nod. “Lead the way, I guess.”

I led the way.

-Read the rest here.

Go dancing, a M/M short story

Here is a short story, loosely inspired by the song “Stay Young, Go Dancing” by Death Cab for Cutie.

 

If all the world were a stage, I preferred a behind the scenes role. Yet all eyes were fixed on me as I puzzled my way through slow dancing. I was hyper aware of his warm hand in my own and the heavy weight of my partner’s other hand on my lower back. My dance partner! A bigger commitment couldn’t be assigned. We never even had a conversation before. He only stretched one arm out towards me, and now we were in the middle of the dance floor, two guys with a crowd of eyes watching.

With his dark hair, dark eyes, and an even darker tux, I had trouble looking away. The white dress shirt was unbuttoned at the top, the tie undone but the light purple scrap of fabric hanging loosely around his neck.

“Can’t say I expected this,” I spoke. I tried to follow his lead, the motions not practiced but fluid. “This is crazy.”

“You’re not the only one who thinks so,” he muttered, hand tightening against mine briefly while he glanced toward the spectators.

“It’s just, I’m nobody. And you’re–”

“We both got invited to the same wedding,” you protested.

“And I was under the impression you were, uh that dancing with me wasn’t something you would be interested in.” I should have just said ‘straight,’ but he reminded me of a skittish animal, like he might spook and bolt. I kept talking, perhaps to soothe him, though it mortified me. “This isn’t where I expected the night to go. Me touching your arms. You have nice arms.”

“Uh, thanks.” We spun, slowly. Enough to see two girls from the wedding party gawking. “God, do they have to stare so much?”

“Think so.”

“Don’t have to take their side.” The petulant quality to his voice seemed cute, less menacing without the usual stubble and leather jacket.

“You don’t have to tell people stuff if you aren’t ready, obviously, but. What did you think would happen?”

“I had no clue I would do this until I did. Also, I wasn’t sure you were gonna say yes.”

“You have very nice arms.”

He laughed. “You mentioned.”

We managed to dance without comment for a little while.

Close together with a stranger, someone I’d only seen from afar, it felt weird. Nice too. He smelled woodsy and like the lavender from the centerpieces. The bride’s little brother, he had stood on her side of the altar with women in identical champagne-colored dresses. The groom’s older sister stood on the groom’s side. Cobbling the honorifics together, he became the ‘man of honor,’ her the ‘best maid.’

“Why did you ask me to dance?” I wondered.

He nodded, indicating the happy bride. She picked her dress up as she spun around, showing her neon pink shoes covered with sparkles. The footwear didn’t match well with her color scheme, but I heard her thought process when getting punch. She was the bride, she could do what she wanted, and those shoes were worth clashing.

Even from here, we could hear her laugh. A bright sound as she spun again, her and the groom dancing with a group of kids. The song was slower, romantic, but that didn’t stop the kids or the happy couple.

“She’s really happy,” he noted. “Ecstatic. Annoyingly so.”

“She’s beautiful.”

“Yeah.” He smiled, watching as her and the ring-bearer grabbed hands and jumped up and down while the groom danced with a flower girl on his shoes. “She said why are you frowning, you should feel just as good as me.”

“Can’t say no to the bride?

“Wouldn’t be smart. She told me to dance with whoever I wanted and not to waste time on anyone else. I don’t think she imagined her advice would play out like this.”

The song changed, upbeat now, and fear crossed his face briefly. The song changed abruptly, back to another slower one, the bride lowering her hand after indicating to the DJ he should change it. We had a little more time.

“Regrets?” I wondered.

“Only that any kind of preparation for whatever comes next would have been smart. But holding you and swaying? I can do that.”

“Then I guess just focus on this part?”

“I can do that too.”

We kept dancing.

Life advice I’ve never taken: be slightly less unhinged

For some reason, I uploaded a bunch of image quotes I made for One Little Word all at the same time. I guess I was trying to be helpful and have them all in one place, which mostly means I have no idea which ones I’ve used already. This might not be a problem for those with better memories, but I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say I don’t even remember how I started this sentence.

Every time I post a quote, I resist the overwhelming urge to add that I’m pretty sure I haven’t posted this one yet. But maybe I have, so let’s just gloss over it if I posted this last week too. I figure putting it out there once is enough. In summation, if I post quotes more than once, please be cool about it. Thanks!

Also, yes, I did only say be cool because it’s in the quote below.

This excerpt involves a boy flipping out because he’s about to have lunch with another boy. This second boy is open to the possibility of being attracted to the first boy, which is where the insanity comes from. I could have just used their names instead of calling them boys, but I’m telling myself it’s too late to change that now.

Being attracted to someone is a totally understandable reason to be a lunatic. No, that’s not true at all. It’s not okay to be a lunatic in a dangerous way when you like someone. But it is okay to be a gigantic nervous weirdo in the romance department, lots of people aren’t smooth operators.

By reading this, you might think Ryan is a gigantic nervous weirdo when he has a crush. I want you to know that’s not true at all. Ryan is a gigantic nervous weirdo always, but in this case, he happens to be a weirdo and have a crush at the same time. This is an important distinction (no, it’s not.)

 

wordswag_1583107963978

Ryan

I had butterflies. Stupid, gigantic butterflies, furiously beating their wings inside my stomach. Was I going to burst into song? Was I going to throw up? Maybe!

Hopefully, I wouldn’t do either of those things. I just couldn’t say for sure.

I willed myself to still from where I was vibrating out of my skin. Be cool. No, that was impossible… be slightly less unhinged. I could try that.

Okay, I would walk into the cafeteria and sit down with the baseball guys, something I’d done multiple times before. No big deal.

Only…

There was a particular guy at the table. One who was interested. In me! He may not be Luke, but the problem was that Luke wasn’t interested.

Surely I’d gotten the neuroticism out last night. I went through every piece of clothing I owned trying to find the right thing to wear. I eventually picked out my best fitting pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, and a green plaid shirt to layer with. No need to dress up too much. Or drive myself crazy.

Or drive myself crazier? Because I was jumping up and down, just a little, where I stood. I tried to stop… nope, still rocking on my heels. I felt extremely excited.

 

Dudes Making out in a Car: A Short Story

Man, I’m so great at titles. However, it is accurate and to the point (two things I rarely am).

This is what I’m calling a quick writing exercise because that makes it sound professional and official, but really, I was going to post a song on this blog and then I decided to write a short story with it. Since I’m, you know, a writer.

The song is Little Secrets by the band Passion Pit.

And now, here’s a short story!

Panted breaths after dashing to the car were the only sound in the enclosed spaced for one blissful moment while my hands dug into his styled dark hair, relishing the chance to mess it up while his hands settled on my chest.

Lips brushed against mine, a quick kiss and then, “No, we’re not really doing this,” he whispered in the space between our mouths.

“Making out in your car?” My smirk couldn’t be seen, but he could feel it against his lips. “I hate to tell you, but it kinda seems like we are.”

He put space between us, furrowed brow and annoyed dark eyes watching me from thick framed glasses that were either the style these days or he just didn’t care if they weren’t in fashion.

“In theory, the whole throw caution to the wind thing?” he carried on. “It’s hot, having to get our hands on each other immediately–”

Since he was watching, I didn’t let myself smile, but that was so him, having to say things that didn’t need to be said.

“However, there’s a limit to the thrill,” he continued. “It’s also extremely risky—”

While I could only stand to look away from him and outside of the car for a moment, it was pretty clear what was out there. Bright sky, no raindrops on this dry day, and the car stayed where it was despite the two guys that just rushed to it, so yeah, wasn’t hard to figure out what was going on if someone saw us. However…

“Some risks are worth taking,” I responded before surging up and crashing our lips together, my hands moving to his back and drawing him nearer to me.

He made a little annoyed noise at being interrupted that quickly turned into a groan and then our tongues were dancing together. Really surprising that worked, but I wasn’t gonna say anything because I’d have to remove my mouth from his.

“Risks are best undertaken only after a thorough cost-benefit analysis,” he told me a moment later.

“Sexy—”

“Isn’t the whole point of a secret relationship that it stays secret? Hidden. Everything we’ve been doing, all the caution we expended could be set asunder in this one moment.”

I sighed, giving him an even look. This wasn’t what I wanted at all, but I managed to sound neutral when asking, “Okay, so you wanna go somewhere else?”

Expecting him to get off me and move into the driver’s seat, my hands tightened, as if to confirm he was still there, watching me with a frown.

“Huh,” he said quietly. “I guess we’ll just have to… risk it.” He didn’t want to leave this moment either.

“No cost-benefit analysis?” This time, he could see the smirk, which made it widen as I wryly commented, “I’m honored.”

He shut me up with his lips.

There were many things I thought of for this scenario. One of the guys involved could be the president’s son, one of them could be a vampire and the other a werewolf, maybe they come from rival warring families. An innocent preacher’s son and the bad boy next door. Something like that.

The Secret Ingredient

Insert banter/witty intro here. I would try to think of something, but this is a good-sized story, so maybe I should just get right to it. Yeah, that’s my excuse. I mean reason.

This is a deleted scene from One Little Change. In that story, Luke and his boyfriend have an awkward sexual encounter and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Instead, he’s talking to his foster sister Lydia. Lydia is dating Alicia, who is asexual. Luke is dating Ryan, who is sexual.

In this story, Luke is trying not to think about Ryan while trying to figure out how asexuality works. Luke never knows how anything works. It’s part of his charm or something.

Luke

Once upon a time, even though she could still be vicious as hell early in the morning, I used to enjoy not seeing Lydia all put together. No makeup in a tank top and pajamas, hair mussed, eyes sleepy, just a regular person. Wasn’t getting much enjoyment from that today.

But there were some bright sides to this awful day. I might not be too late for work. I definitely was going to be late but not as late as I thought when Lydia parked herself in my room and refused to leave until we talked. And now Lydia was making me breakfast. And the best part of all? Talking about her and Alicia meant I didn’t have to think about me and Ryan.

Not that any of this made any sense. Okay, Alicia couldn’t have sex. Wait, maybe she could. She just didn’t want to. Yeah, I didn’t think she had a medical condition where… no, I wasn’t going to guess. I wasn’t going to think about her private parts. Maybe it was, like, just how she was. Ryan liked guys, Lydia liked girls, I liked both, and Alicia liked neither.

No, that couldn’t be right either. She was dating Lydia. Alright, even knowing Lydia might make fun of my general ignorance, I had to ask for clarification. “You and Alicia, like, kiss?” I needed a mental picture. Wait, ew, not literally.

“Of course we kiss.” She faced the stove while she made pancakes, but I could hear her roll her eyes. She rolled her eyes loudly.

“But you don’t do other stuff?” I wondered next. Maybe this was dumb and obvious to her, but I was just trying to understand. Wasn’t even sure these questions would help me do that but maybe they would at least help me think of better ones.

Would it be possible for Alicia not to know what she liked? Like on the checklist of sexual activities, maybe she had to try each one and then decide to cross them off her list or not… that really didn’t sound right. Didn’t sound totally wrong, but it really didn’t seem like a good idea to suggest that an asexual person should do sexual stuff just to be for sure.

She turned around for a moment, regarding me suspiciously. “Why are you asking about what my girlfriend and I do together?” Fair’s fair. No, she didn’t care about fair.

“Because I have no clue?” It sounded like a question, but it was true. Duh. I just didn’t know me not having a clue was something I’d ever have to explain to her. I thought she just assumed I had no clue, like Zach did, and that made it easier for everyone involved. I didn’t know if my eye roll was strong enough to be heard when not looking at my face, but she was looking at my face, so she could see it.

“Not because you think it’s hot,” she clarified. One hand flipped a pancake while the other was on her hip as she regarded me frankly.

Why would her and Alicia kissing and stuff be hot?  Oh, because two girls. Maybe that could be hot… if one of those girls wasn’t practically my sister and the other one wasn’t… whatever Alicia was. And if I hadn’t had a terrible sexual encounter with my boyfriend the night before. “I’m with a guy now,” I reminded Lydia.

“That doesn’t mean you don’t like girls.” Guess she was appeased though because she turned around again.

“Yeah, whatever.” Yep, bi pride. I would wave my bi flag later. I focused on the topic we were discussing. “Alicia doesn’t feel whatever it is that tells her, let’s have sex, right? Well, what if you guys were kissing or whatever and she did feel that? I mean, is that possible?”

Also, did bi people have a flag? No, wasn’t the time for that.

“We make out and stuff.” The words sounded a little short, but Lydia sounded like that a lot, so I couldn’t tell if that meant something or was just regular. “Some stuff,” she added. “Not all the stuff,” she finished lamely. Lydia brought the food over to the table. She had a look on her face like she had no idea what she was talking about.

“Is that difficult? To do stuff and then stop?” Always was a challenge for me and Ryan. Or we thought it was, maybe all that had been a blessing in disguise.

“Kind of. I think because we’re still figuring out how we work together. I mean, I didn’t think this was even an option, not anytime soon at least.” She had a faraway look in her eyes for a moment, then she shook her head. “It will be easier once we know. I hope.”

“I’m sure it will be,” I assured. “If you guys do some stuff, and you’re still figuring out how it works, then couldn’t being, uh, intimate together be a part of that?”

Lydia rolled her eyes when I said intimate. “In theory.” Sounded like she had more to say… but then she didn’t say any of it.

“How do you know?” I pressed when she went quiet. “Maybe she likes you that way? You’re the right person.”

“It doesn’t work like that,” Lydia said, glaring at me.

Maybe her hormones or sex drive or whatever were just idling, the engine on but the car not moving, until the right person got in the driver’s seat and stepped on the gas. All she had needed was to find the right girl. Though, huh, maybe that was bad. I remember my parents hoping I’d find the right girl and get over Ryan. Maybe it didn’t work like that.

In case there was any doubt, I still had no clue how this worked. There probably wasn’t any doubt.

“Do you know how it works?” I didn’t tell her my car analogy because that might be offensive to compare women to cars. Being a car sounded pretty cool to me though.

“Of course!” Lydia glared at me.

Lydia glared at me a lot, and it was early, and I had pancakes to eat, so I began cutting my food without paying her much attention. She didn’t usually mind being ignored, think she preferred it, but when she was expressing how little she thought of something or someone, then she wanted attention.

I started paying attention because I had accidentally earned her wrath, I did that a lot, and sometimes violence followed the wrath. Looked like Lydia wanted to take the knife she was using to cut her pancakes and stab me in the throat with it instead.

Lydia’s reaction to not being in control, feeling insecure, and a whole lot of other stuff was anger, so none of that fazed me. I wasn’t a complete moron, so I paid attention in order to defend myself, but I wasn’t fazed. I waited her out and she sighed.

“I thought I understood how it worked,” she admitted quietly, staring down at her pancakes and biting her lip, then she shook her head. “Might be just as clueless as you.”

“Sorry,” I told her sincerely. I was as clueless as me all the time and it wasn’t fun. “I don’t think I’ll be able to help you with this.”

She rolled her eyes. “I never thought that was an option.” She could at least pretend!

“I hate you,” I told her sincerely.

“Oh Luke, you’re my only hope,” Lydia said. Her voice was dry and not at all believable. “I need your big brain so badly.” Her face turned wicked. “Did Ryan say that to you last night?” Just swapping out the word brain for a different part of the anatomy, her eyes seemed to suggest.

I was the one who wanted to grab my knife and stab her. I tried to. Well, I mimed doing that but wasn’t really going to, and Lydia brought her knife up to block mine anyway, so we had a mini swordfight with our butter knifes for a minute until we calmed down and ate our food.

Holy crap, these were good pancakes. Maybe better than my mom’s, and just having that thought made me look around wildly for a second, afraid she’d jump out at me from the shadows and ask why I betrayed her, but nothing happened, so I told Lydia, “These pancakes are good.”

“Family recipe,” she told me easily, then what she said registered with her. “Old family.” As in the one she had before this one, her biological family. “I mean, uh. Mom used to say the secret ingredient was love.”

“You cooked for me with love?” I asked in amusement. First good food and now this; the day was turning around.

“No! That’s bullshit.” She scowled. “The secret ingredient is a shit-ton of butter.”

Butter. It was better than love.

At the moment, yeah, that sounded about right.

Boyfriends, bowling, and bloodlust

Having a character like Ryan Miller who doesn’t always play by the rules of the world when he can make stuff up instead is fun because it gives me a chance to take something normal like bowling and then make it much weirder.

In this case, that means Ryan thinks bowling should be like a monarchy with guards and rulers and prizes. Well, the prizes are just cause prizes are awesome. Duh.

Despite having no experience ever bowling and only respecting the sport because it includes outfit changes (the shoes), Ryan is determined to kick ass when on a double date with his boo Luke and his friends Alicia and Lydia.

The following is a scene from the bowling date in One New Start and some art. Ryan and Luke are on one team with the girls on the other, and Ryan and Luke really enjoy winning, each other, winning again, and each other again.

~

bowlingsep

Ryan

Bowling. Was. AWESOME.

Winning helped. Winning was the best. The girls were trailing in our metaphorical dust. Luke and I were totally gracious winners.

Just kidding, we were so stupidly obnoxious, the worst winners ever. Hey, we won at being bad winners too! Alicia and Lydia got more and more annoyed while losing harder and harder.

One magical time, I almost got a strike!

A lot of times, I got less than almost a strike.

“Okay, you’re up,” Luke told me, handing me my ball.

I started with the pink one for little girls because it looked like fun, but I was using a regular black ball now because I was a man, grrr, and I wanted to win dammit.

“Eyes on the prize,” my boyfriend instructed.

“There are prizes?” Bowling just got even better.

“I’ll get you a prize afterward,” Luke promised. Yay! “Focus,” he ordered a moment later, knowing prizes were dancing around behind my eyes. His eyes blazed with fierceness. He was a commander, readying his troops for war.

I raised the fist not holding the ball in the air, looked towards the pins, and gave my best war cry. “Wooo!” I ignored how girly that war cry was.

Luke nodded, smacked me on the ass, and sent me off to war. Bowling.

I marched up, squared my shoulders, let the ball fly and—

I knocked them all down.

I hit all the pins! On the first try! I did the thing! Strike! I punched my fist out in front of me, like I was going to strike. No, that was what it was called. That was the first strike I had ever bowled because this was the first time I had ever bowled.

I stood there looking at the pins, wondering if they were going to pop up and say just kidding.

Luke Chambers screamed in the background. Hollering for me. Excited for me. “YAY, RYAN, YOU DID IT!”

I turned around in a daze and there he was, jumping out of his seat. Face alight with excitement and caught up in the moment. He was beautiful. Always was, but now he was beautiful for me, because I did the thing.

“MY BOYFRIEND GOT A STRIKE!” He hollered and Lydia snickered. “CRAP,” he yelled a moment later. “SHOULD I HAVE YELLED THAT?” Did he know he was still yelling? “OH WELL, WOOHOOO. GO RYAN!”

I went. Flinging myself into Luke and he was there and ready to catch me and we jumped up and down together, celebrating like lunatics, big grins on both our faces.

Bowling date! The rest is available in One New Start.

Friendship, cookies, and bi panic. Totally normal bro stuff.

I was gonna do the talky talk talking thing here, but this is a pretty good sized scene, so I’ll just get to it. Porcupines! (Sorry, I couldn’t completely do the whole serious, professional thing. That would be too weird.)

This is from One Little Lie, and it’s a deleted scene.

Relevant information: Luke is dating a boy and wants to figure out his sexuality but most of his feelings about this are “oh god, oh god, oh god.” He goes to his friend Zach, known bisexual and avoider of feelings, for help.

~

Luke

My sister said she thought I was a boring straight guy once. I was certainly interesting now; my dilemma was multifaceted. I had no idea what I was. I didn’t think and maybe didn’t want to be gay, but what if I was? Things had never felt this good, this intense before.

That’s what I thought about after leaving Ryan’s house.

heartThen there was the other part, which was maybe worse. Maybe things didn’t feel so intense and crazy and wonderful because Ryan was a guy. Maybe it felt that way because my feelings for Ryan were more than I’d ever had for anyone else, maybe it was lo-

Nope. No. Too scary.

I’m the good guy, I’d always been the good boyfriend. I held doors open, paid for dinner, tried to listen, bought flowers, all of it. I executed all the right moves on the outside, but it never felt like this on the inside.

I’d said I love you before and I had thought I meant it at the time, but it didn’t feel like this. Real, intense. Consuming. Was I gay? Did it matter that I still liked girls?

I wasn’t the type to do awkward or self-doubting and now there was a lot of that in my life. Ryan and I were each other’s first boyfriends. Though he’d been on a few dates with Zach and had definitely been attracted to other guys. Maybe Ryan was special to me, but I wasn’t special to him.

Huh.

What a not fun thought.

That was only one of the reasons I couldn’t share with Ryan when he offered last night. Mainly, I wanted to go into his house and do anything that involved being undressed and not talking. Also because I didn’t want all of my fond, serious thoughts to spill out. And also because… it just didn’t feel right unloading all this stuff on him.

Lydia had her own soul searching to go through, so I turned to Zach. The easiest way to get Zach to cooperate was to tell him exactly what you wanted and make it clear that you would leave him alone after you got it. This wasn’t baseball. No warm up. No beating around the bush. Direct.

When it was time for our next away game, I clapped him on the shoulder and sat down next to him on the bus. “Prepare yourself for a serious conversation,” I informed him.

“Thanks for the warning.” He moved to get up. “But you didn’t inform me in writing at least three days in advance so—”

“Okay, but I want to talk about BEING GAY AND QUEER SHIT,” I raised my voice. “Whoever sits next to me will have that to look forward to.” Suddenly there were no free seats for Zach. “Come on, we can do this quickly.”

He sat back down but complained, “I don’t want to hold your hand through this. Can’t you talk to your actual boyfriend about this?”

“I’ll tell him once I figure it out.” He did it on his own.

Okay, this was what I was talking about earlier. The big reason I couldn’t let him help me. Not only did he figure it out on his own, my addition only made things more complicated. I opened my stupid big mouth and told people he was gay.

I didn’t really know him at the time. I didn’t know about being in the closet or outing people. It was an accident. I just… After that, I didn’t want to put this on him. I could do this myself.

Mostly. I told Zach, “I’m talking to you whether you like it or not.”

He idly glanced out the window, but I doubted he’d make a break for it. “Fine.”

“Fine.”

guypicsDeep, deep down he was really a good person. You just had to get through all the bullshit first. Zach liked to present himself a certain way and his family weren’t really the type to have serious, intense conversations. My parents freaking loved talking. I just didn’t think they’d want to listen to anything I had to say at the moment.

I didn’t say anything for a few moments. “So,” Zach said after a tense silence, “Are you gonna start talking then, or what?”

“Right, right.” Okay. I wanted this. “I bought some time. With the Lydia thing. But I still don’t know.” There.

He didn’t say anything. I just expressed my doubts in such an eloquent and articulate manner and he had nothing to say?

“Okay, so this is supposed to be a conversation,” I explained.

“I’m aware,” Zach said cooly. That was all he said.

“It’s your turn to talk,” I prompted. Maybe I should jump out the window instead.

He shrugged. “I don’t know what you want me to say to that.”

Oh dear god. “Help me,” I ordered. Or maybe begged. “How do I even decide? It’s like a big decision. Straight or gay.”

“You’re acting like there’s no other options.” He rolled his eyes. “Like being bi, for instance.”

“Yeah, I guess.” I shrugged.

Zach said he liked guys and girls. That was an option, hypothetically. I couldn’t imagine it any more than I could being gay; maybe I liked it even less for some reason.

It wasn’t that simple, was it? To just say, oh, I like both and there, problem solved. That was awfully convenient. How long could that last for? Wasn’t it just putting off the inevitable? I couldn’t decide if that’s what I wanted to do or not.

“Please don’t let this inflate your ego more,” I told Zach, “But you make it look really easy.”

“I’ve known I was gay for a while now,” he said simply. He used gay and bi interchangeably sometimes, but how was I supposed to know if that was what he was doing this time? Then, seeing that I was clearly about to ask if he was gay now, he added, “I’m still bi, but I don’t have a problem with either term.”

Gay had become something of a catch all term, but it didn’t feel like it to me. If I called myself gay out loud, that meant I liked men and men only. Zach didn’t agree. Not that there was anything wrong with being gay, obviously. It just wasn’t me.

Zach sighed and his tone wasn’t exactly gentler, but for him it was almost warm and fuzzy as he continued, “You suddenly found yourself in a… situation.” Instead of boyfriend, I would have to refer to Ryan as my situation later; he’d get a kick out of that. “It might take time to figure everything out.”

I thought about that. How much time did I get? Did I have to become gay after my transitional period was over? When should I expect my membership card in the mail and how did I go about returning it?

heartyStill, it wasn’t bad advice. This was new to me. I got a little time at least. All I could come up with to say in response was, “Wow, you sound so wise and rational.”

“I know,” Zach shuddered. “I don’t like it.”

Well, that didn’t really help. But I guess it was reassuring. I felt really dumb, but I hadn’t been dealing with this for that long, that was true. But Zach had known he was gay for a while now?

“I don’t think I’ve seen you go after a guy besides Ryan,” I noted.

“Oh god, we are not talking about that,” he said firmly.

I sighed. This was probably as good as our conversation would get, so I deemed Zach’s best friend duties over with and reached into my backpack. “Hey, I brought snacks.”

Zach smiled. Now some of the guys looked jealous, which made his smile grow. Zach liked envy even more than dessert. Ryan made cookies for the road. We ate them all ourselves but shared with Joey too. Apparently, I owed him for always telling him things he didn’t want to know.

~

This is part of a continuing thing I do called More on Mondays.  Where I post extra scenes, hence the more, on every other Monday, hence the Mondays.

No one dies in this book!

Horror movies are not something I enjoy. Doesn’t really matter if the subject is actually frightening to me. If there is ominous music and something jumps out of the shadows, I will jump too, except I’m jumping due to terror.

Every time I have watched a horror movie, my first thought is, why am I watching this? Then, as it begins, I generally spend a few moments going, hey, this is nice, why can’t it just stay like this?

Because at the beginning of the scary movies, there’s calm, happy people just going about their day. Excited to go camping or to a house that totally isn’t haunted. I like those parts. And maybe it’s a lot less interesting if people just have a pleasant day and nobody dies, but I’d be okay with that.

Naturally, this doesn’t have a lot to do with the point of this post. This is a snippet from One New Start. It’s from the beginning, where life is going right. There are no monsters in this book, but there may be other challenges. Eventually. Just not in the beginning where everything is great.

Ryan

The stars were up there above us, filling the night sky like they were meant for private viewing by us and us alone, as if we were in our own private planetarium. We were laying out on the hood of Luke’s car, and he had his arm stretched out behind me, so it was my pillow. A solid, unyielding pillow that would never sell in stores because it was odd and misshapen. No one would buy it except me, who would purchase every last one.

We shared a few quiet moments just gazing up at the sky. Together.

“I’ll keep on keeping on,” Luke said. “Being boring me while you take a normal thing like having new experiences and find ways to make it extreme or scary.”

There was no guarantee I would do that! Unless one counted past experiences and my personality as a guarantee.

“I want new experiences!” I defended. Being not crazy could be part of that.

“You’re still going to be the same person while you’re having them,” he reasoned.

“I guess.” I did like me. But there were so many options out there. “Unless I can be Cher? Can I be Cher?” I crossed my fingers and held them up so he could see them.

“Don’t want to date Cher,” he replied. Aww. Sweet.

Also, that wasn’t a no, so maybe I could be Cher… then again, one of the only things I had going for me that Cher didn’t have was that Luke Chambers wanted to date me, so I wasn’t giving that up.

“Nicholas Cage?” I offered instead. He was another guy.

“Even worse.” His disgusted face was so cute.

If the opportunity presented itself to be Nick Cage, I would totally do that just to freak Luke out, but otherwise I would be me. That sounded just fine actually. I had great people in my life, great things to look forward to, and a really great boyfriend.

This was going to be an incredible year.

Poetic, coherent thoughts that aren’t at all cheesy

Sometimes, I have a perfect beginning for a story and other times I play around with a million ideas because I can’t quite figure out how to begin. This was one of those million options I considered for the beginning of One New Start.

Ryan, one of the main characters, is pretty random and spastic, so maybe I didn’t even need to provide a reason for the adventures he embarks on, but this Ryan, the guy who is about to embark on adventures. He’s talking about senior year.

Of high school. I write YA. Not geriatric-A.

~

flowers

Ryan

They wrote songs about this, the way I was feeling.

Cheesy, stupid songs that I would never admit to liking out loud but always got stuck in my head anyway. Songs about how nothing could stop you, how the future was ahead. YOLO, carpe diem, the time was now, the feeling was right, I have no idea.

Recently, the musical selection had been a little… why? Whenever I turned on the radio to a pop station or a country station or a rap station, and that was all we had here, the same stupid Lil Naz song was always playing about a horse and roads and whatever. Boring.

But hey, Lil Naz was gay now! No, he always was but now the public knew. That was cool.

Don’t know that I even need to say this, but like that’s ever stopped me before, I would rather talk about me than Lil Naz.

I woke up this way. Fabulous. And also, excited. Like, hard to sit still excited, ready for what’s next, big crazy smile on my face excited for the start of my senior year.

Living in my small town and being the gay kid, it had been a long time since I was excited for the school year. It was always ugh, another year, at least it’s one step closer to freedom, but it’s still not here yet.

Now it’s like, yay, another year!

They wrote songs about this. Cruising down the road with my baby next to me, windows down, wind in my hair. A beautiful guy next to me and nothing can stop me.

Yeah, there was a song about that. I didn’t know the words, but I was singing it anyway. I was living it anyway.

~

This has been More on Mondays, where I post outtakes and deleted scenes. On Mondays. Every other Monday to be exact. I wanted to italicize this, so I did.