To bi or not to bi? That is the question

A snippet from my book One Little Lie that is available now. Enjoy!

Luke

I didn’t like guys. People thinking of me as gay still felt uncomfortable. It was a label that didn’t quite fit. I used the word in my head sometimes because it was better than saying homosexual or something, but I hated hearing it out loud in reference to me. Not that there was anything wrong with being gay! My boyfriend was gay. But me? I didn’t feel gay. I didn’t think I was gay.

Okay, I did have a boyfriend.

And I liked my boyfriend. I could never admit he was good looking to his face because he would become more insufferable than he already was, but I was attracted to him. I never thought long limbs, a flat chest, and decidedly masculine hands were a turn on before, but Ryan was different. And there was nothing girly about him even if he once wore heels and a cheerleading outfit.

I liked his body, every masculine inch of it. But other guys? Gross.

I guess my best friend Zach was pretty or whatever. I could admit that. It didn’t mean I was attracted to him, just that I had eyes. Anyone could see that. Whatever. I just wasn’t attracted to guys… though, okay, maybe I wasn’t terribly attracted to girls at the moment either.

All I could say was that guys didn’t sound appealing and girls didn’t sound appealing, but man, now that I’d mentioned Ryan in a girl’s cheerleading uniform? I was definitely into it. So, that was, what, like a tie?

Maybe my fondness for that visual didn’t say anything about me. Except that I was pretty into the person I was currently seeing and no one else measured up. I’d never felt that way about anyone before, so it was both thrilling and terrifying. Figuring out my sexuality on top of everything else was really difficult.

Did liking one guy make me gay? It felt like everyone in this town thought the answer was yes, but I still wasn’t sure. So yeah. When I told my parents, I didn’t want to be in this this unnamed, unknown place. I wanted to have answers for them.

Right now? I had none.

 

One Little Lie

I am in the zone today. What should I write about to introduce this post? I said to myself. Was there anything interesting that happened today? Did I hear about anything worth sharing? I thought about it, or I tried, but there were no thoughts in my head.

All I did today is write. All that was in my head was related to writing. So good for me, being productive, but that doesn’t give me much to go off of.

Enough about me, what about you? Did you get a lot accomplished today? Then it’s time for a break. If you didn’t, then it’s time for a break anyway. I have found that it is always time for a break, which is why I’ve had problems being productive in the past. Anyway, go check out One Little Lie.

newollieMergedLuke Chambers isn’t gay.

His boyfriend might disagree. His girlfriend would definitely disagree. Wait, let’s back up.

Bisexual. He’s supposed to be bisexual. Except there’s a few problems with that:
He never liked a guy before Ryan.
He doesn’t like that drag race show every gay person he knows watches.
He has zero fashion sense.

Okay maybe that last one doesn’t matter. And he only knows, like, four gay people. Five if you count him. Do you count him? Luke has no idea.

Here’s what he does know:

He likes Ryan Miller.
His parents are suspicious of how much time he spends with Ryan.
He agreed to help Lydia and now he has a boyfriend and a fake girlfriend.

What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, probably.

Luke wants to figure things out. He wants to know what to tell his parents. And he wants to help his friend Lydia. Most of all, he wants to keep dating Ryan. He wants to do all these things at the same time but doesn’t know if he can.

There’s a shelf life to this closeted thing. He just doesn’t know if he can come out. Can he can be himself on his own terms and still have Ryan?

~~~

One Little Lie is a humorous coming of age tale that includes snark, shenanigans, and a developing relationship between a jock and a nerd. This YA novel featuring an MM romance is the second in a series but can be read on its own.

Summer Romance: New Material

I am trying to go through the books I wrote during the summer and turn them into a bundle but because I love giving myself lots of additional work, I’m adding a bunch of new content to Summer Romance.

Here’s a portion I worked on today:

A pop and a new Carter hairstyle? I had never wanted to say I was hashtag blessed before, but I felt very tempted now. I dragged my eyes away from his hair and told him, “Thanks again.” Then I couldn’t help myself. “We are so totally getting friendship bracelets.”

“Being friends with you is going to be painful, isn’t it?” he asked but with a smile.

“I can’t help it. You’re so…” I gestured vaguely at him. “Right there. And your face is so fun to mock.”

“I have a great face,” he defended.

Privately, I agreed. To him and his great face, I scoffed and said, “Look who’s modest.”

“You’re still an asshole,” he told me seriously. Had I gone too far? He smiled. “And I still don’t mind.”

I pursed my lips in contemplation. “I wonder if there’s a way to put that on the friendship bracelet.”

He gestured to the pop on the table. “Are you going to drink the beverage I so kindly procured for you?”

I made a decision and shook my head. “Nope.” His face fell for a moment and I told him, “We are.”

I got up and went to one of the market attendants behind the counter who wasn’t busy and he got two paper cups for us to use. I brought the cups back to our table and opened the can.

Carter wasn’t lying. He did have a great face. And hair, I couldn’t forget the hair. But his face stole the spotlight now. It was so soft and pleased when I poured us both a cup of pop.

The rest of the conversation was spent talking about trivial matters and trading stupid banter back and forth. I considered this whole day a true sign that we had gotten past the coworkers stage and entered into friendship territory.

New Fall Story

Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been working on today. Boy meets boys in a coffee shop.

The scent of coffee hung heavy in the air, naturally, but mixed with other scents of the season. I watched the staff work as I waited in line. I detected crisp notes of apple, hints of warm cinnamon, and the enticing aroma of other fall spices.

Others behind the counter were rushing around frenzied, but now that I noticed one of the baristas in particular, I saw that he was different. It took more than an afternoon rush to rattle him. He smiled at each person who came up to the counter and I was struck by how genuine it seemed. There’s no way he could be so friendly. Not while teenager after teenager poured in here after school for a caffeine fix, rattling out orders and huffing impatiently. Yet he was easy going, the calm in the center of the storm.

Lately, my life held a whole lot of storm and not much calm, so someone like that held a certain amount of appeal at the moment. Even if otherwise he might not be type. I wondered if his brown hair would feel as soft as it looked and what it felt like to have a posture that relaxed posture.

He was a free spirit maybe, or an artist. There were faint marks of color on his arm that he hadn’t quite washed off and eclectic wristbands on one arm. One of bands was a rainbow, which might be why Quinn assumed he played for my team. And the once over he gave me when we finally made it up the counter made me agree with her hypothesis.

~

 

One Little Lie

I’m hard at work on One Little Lie, the sequel to One Little Word. My writing process isn’t very glamorous, it’s just a lot of flailing internally, telling myself to write faster, and curling into a ball and crying because I really hate editing.

I’ll be sending out early copies to beta readers who want to provide feedback, and you can sign up for that here. I’m sending out the beta copies in August even if that means emailing them at 11:59 pm on Aug. 31. I  also hope to post a preview soon on Amazon.

For now, I’ll just post the beginning of One Little Lie.

~~~

“Hey, gay boy!” The taunt came as I walked briskly through the school doors. What a way to start the day. Small town bullies had so few targets when almost everyone in our farming community was the same, so the out gay kid known as me was a perfect choice.

Rural Lake Forest (which had neither lake nor forest) was a small city that unfortunately for me felt like a small town. But I didn’t have time to cater to this moron heckling me today. “Hi there, repressed jock,” I replied breezily while attempting to stroll past him.

“Where are you rushing off to, princess?” the bully asked with a sneer, stepping in front of me.

I smiled thinly. “You should really be careful about what you say. You never know who might overhear.” And there’s no way I was pretending to date this guy. You might wonder if that was even an option. You’d be surprised. But that was a story another day.

He scoffed. “I don’t need life lessons from a fairy.”

Being negative so early in the morning would surely earn him bad karma, but it wasn’t my job to stick around and teach him to be a better person. Was that uncharitable? Did my unwillingness to be kind even to those who were mean to me ensure that I would have bad karma too?

Screw it, it was too early for karma.

I resumed walking and the guy jumped out of my way so that he wouldn’t have to get up close and personal with the queer kid. Also because I had two coffees in my hand and he didn’t want to wear them. As I passed him, he said, “We weren’t done yet.” The jerk actually sounded a little sad; he was probably happy to catch me alone.

Now that I hung around with the captain of the baseball team, Luke Chambers, there was less bullying. Reduced bullying and fewer hostile stares meant more me time, which was great since me is my favorite person in the world. Though Luke was quickly gaining ground.

“Sorry,” I apologized quickly, pausing for a moment against my better judgement. My boyfriend Luke was turning me into a softie as I almost felt bad for ruining this asshole’s fun. Remaining cynical and jaded by the world when dating such a dreamboat was a challenge. Oh god, did I use dreamboat in my inner monologue? I’ve been corrupted.

The bully snorted. “Whatever, fag.” Yep, no reason to feel bad.

“That’s the spirit,” I said and tried to go on my merry way.

“You aren’t even going to play along?” he asked with a frown. “You used to.”

True but that was a defense mechanism as I used my words to fluster bullies and then run away. I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of strength. I worked on our family farm, sure, but my diet consisted mainly of sarcasm and root beer and I spent my free time in my favorite science teacher’s classroom.

I told the jock, “I have more important things to do now.”

“Like being queer?” he smirked and held up a hand for someone to high five him for his verbal genius before realizing his friends weren’t around.

“Is everything okay here?” The words were said by a sharp voice. After the quick click of heels, the owner of said voice, the aptly named Mrs. Sharp, was standing next to us and viewing us with keen eyes. She came by too late to hear anything, that was how it usually went, but she made an educated guess that we weren’t best buds.

The stature of this teacher in her early 30’s wasn’t intimidating, but her no-nonsense attitude, cold stare, and hair always pulled tightly into a severe bun made her the instructor that students never dared challenge.

The wannabe bully made a quick getaway and I wanted to follow, but Mrs. Sharp stopped me with her soul sucking gaze and I stood frozen while contemplating the best way to lie to this teacher who could snap me in half with just the powers of her mind.

What a way to start the day.

Blast From the Past

father-2770301_960_720My absent father wanted to speak to me, maybe meet up, and I… I could barely stand to think about reconnecting or whatever.

“I can’t deal with a nightmare from my past right now” I told my mother.

She laughed at me. “You’re so dramatic. That’s a bright side, huh? You won’t even have to come out to your dad, just say that.”

“Ugh,” I groaned. “Shut up.”  Drinking and denial were better than drudging up the past. This conversation was proof. Shit.

“I’m just asking,” she said gently. “It’s your decision.” She was using a weird kind tone I didn’t like. Mom typically took the tough love approach with me these days. Her parenting advice normally involved stern words and phrases like ‘stop being a dumbass’ and ‘make smart decisions because I’m not paying for bail.’

“What would we even talk about?” Dad and I hadn’t had anything in common, something he worried about often. I wasn’t a ‘normal boy’ who’d liked sports and bugs and whatever normal boys were supposed to like. “Maybe dad and I will just hug and go play catch?” I quipped. Oh god, what if he really did want to play catch? He didn’t hide his disappointment at my inability to play sports very well when I was younger, but I was stronger now.

Mom thought about it. “Maybe you could guilt him into buying you beer.”

I laughed. “Tempting.”

She walked to stand in front of me. “I’ve got to go to work.” She bent down and kissed my forehead. I scowled as she smiled back at me. “Make good decisions, dumbass.”

Excerpt from What Love Means

Daily Prompt: Guilty

A Chance Encounter

A young guy in sunglasses posing in front of camera

Bodies filled the decrepit, rusting building while the chilly night air had many openings to invade the space inside the run-down walls of the old warehouse. Maybe that was why several empty barrels held fires or maybe that was for ambiance. It didn’t seem like this forgotten place would have any electricity, yet someone somehow got music playing.

People cheered and danced while the booze flowed liberally. Then glow sticks appeared. This was going to turn into a rave. I fucking hated raves. I missed the days when it was just me and the guys breaking into some ramshackle place that no one even used or cared about but went through the trouble of locking anyway.

And now snobs infiltrated the party, their stares boring into me – the scowling guy who filled out his leather jacket – with disdain and grudging interest. Rich kids were all the same, with critical eyes and upturned noses, both envious and judging of those below them. Good to fool around with sometimes but that was all they were good for.

I grabbed a drink so I’d be able to get through this night. Okay, I was probably going to have a couple drinks anyway but this one I threw back too fast to make the EDM and snobs bearable.

Finding someone to spend the evening with would normally make a night like this perfect. However, an unexpected surge of déjà vu stopped my perusal of the assembled bodies. This night felt like all the others but not in a good way. Nothing out of the ordinary would happen, just drinking, dancing, and partying. Even the preppy kids looking for a spot of rough in their polished, perfect lives happened regularly enough to not warrant surprise.

I’d just turned 18 but suddenly felt old. This life was new and thrilling a few years ago, so how could I be tired of it already? It seemed bland: the same thing I did last week and would do again next week. I wasn’t out of high school yet but, as I didn’t plan on attending college, more of the same was my likely future. That shouldn’t be a bad thing… except being a teenage delinquent had become the norm. I had enough older friends with loose morals that even getting alcohol for my underage self wasn’t a thrill or challenge.

I was no longer part of this event but outside of it even though I was in the middle of revelers. I stood separate from them as noise and laughter and neon lights flittered around me without touching me. I was at a distance, a million miles away and right there at the same time, looking at it all with detached disinterest and wondering how I got here.

It’s like all the atmosphere had to travel a great length until it reached my senses. When the distance snapped, it was a rush. All of it hit me at once, colliding into me like a freight train and nearly making me stagger: the pounding music, the movement of limbs, him.

Why had I been down? All it took was an intriguing guy to snap me out of it. Amazing what a pretty face and a nice body could do. I didn’t mind listening to shitty music and being surrounded by a sweaty crowd since he was here too. Nothing was wrong with my life; I just needed some action.

Rebellious teens looking for a good time poured into places like this as soon as word got out about a party. Gotta love technology. It made him stand out more because instead of tight clothes and club gear, he looked like he came here straight from the library or country club. He wore pressed brown pants, somehow still perfect despite this atmosphere, and a stupid preppy shirt with a little animal logo on it. Lots of people dug bad boys but not me. I played the bad boy, so I enjoyed the innocent ones.

He looked like the kind of guy I had absolutely nothing in common with, but I only needed him to be attracted to me too. We didn’t need to talk. I felt a surge of adrenaline spread through my body, not from a motorcycle ride this time, from interest while I prepared to make my move. I imagined running my hands through that perfect gelled hair. His blond locks changed color with all the neon lights in here now, becoming purple, blue, pink for an instant. The lights played over his sharp classical features while my hands itched with the need to touch.

I wasn’t superstitious, but the fingers of my left hand played with the threaded turquoise bracelet around my right wrist without any conscious thought on my part. It was like a good luck charm as I drifted in behind him and pressed my body close to his. He stiffened yet didn’t pull away immediately. He seemed like the type that mostly stayed indoors with a skinny frame and pale skin in the light of day. I wondered if I’d feel his ribs through his shirt as I moved to the music and brushed my hands along his torso, but his unassuming figure hid lithe muscles.

I ran my hands up and down his arms while his biceps flexed under the attention like he couldn’t help it. His skin felt warm and electric. Though the drink I had might have dulled my senses some, any fog in my mind melted away by touching him. My body buzzed and responded to him, senses awakening, all demanding to get as much of him as possible. I wanted to feast on his smell and taste and touch.

My hands moved down his thin but toned body, tightening minutely on his waist, and then he was out of my grasp. My stomach dropped but that’s stupid… there were other guys, gay ones or those who got brave enough to experiment after consuming too much liquor. He probably had a girlfriend and was almost definitely some snobby rich kid. I’d find someone else. I could do better. Except something about him felt magnetic; I’d be drawn in his direction the whole night even if he walked away.

Only he didn’t go far. He turned and looked at me. Maybe I imagined the spark of fire in his eyes or maybe he felt the electricity between us too. His body moved close to mine again as both our hands explored this time. He smelled clean, with a hint of something sharper and appealing. Bright blue eyes peeked at me from beneath his lashes as he sent me a smile that was more shy and uncertain than coy, but his nerves didn’t stop him. He held me tight and rocked his hips into mine in time with the music. God, I wanted to devour him.

Was I in a mood earlier? I didn’t remember. There’s only dancing, drinks, and him. And life was anything but predictable because he made the first move. I couldn’t say whether we spent minutes or hours on the dancefloor when his lips captured mine and a quick tongue slid into my mouth, greedy and demanding, while his hands groped and squeezed at my ass.

I only had one complaint after that: the night passed too quickly.

Prompt -Thin

Real or Fake? M/M romance

The breakup scene from a supposedly fake relationship:

We need to talk,” Luke told me. A classic break up line. He couldn’t even be creative about it?

“I don’t have time,” I said, shutting my locker and walking away. A small, stupid part of me actually wanted him to let me walk away, wanted this charade between us to continue.

pexels-photo-176162

“Yeah, you never seem to have enough time for me,” he told my retreating back.

I spun around dramatically, intending to add flair to this scene. “We’re going to do this here?” I asked skeptically like we shouldn’t do this in public, but I raised my voice to catch more attention.

“We have to do this here because you’ve been avoiding me for days.” He sounded annoyed and I wondered if it was genuine. I had been avoiding him.

“You’re being dramatic,” I scolded.

“I’m the dramatic one?” He scoffed. “You love being the center of attention.” We were definitely the center of attention now: a crowd of eager onlookers had formed around us. Some looked uncomfortable while others were enjoying this, but they all seemed interested. I saw our friends Alicia and Lydia among the rest.

“Says the guy who is literally at the center of every baseball game,” I retorted.

“I’m the pitcher,” he said, exasperated, and a few of the guys on his team nodded at that.

“Don’t bring the bedroom into this!” I couldn’t help it.

Luke’s expression went confused for a second, trying to figure that out while the crowd murmured. I probably lost most of them with that one, but I had to fight a grin as I watched Alicia and Lydia dissolving into laughter and trying to hide it, turning towards each other and giggling helplessly.

Thrown off track, Luke went in a different direction. “I know what’s really going on here. Do you think I’m an idiot?”

I raised one eyebrow. “You want me to answer that?”

“You’re interested in him,” Luke spat out. I regretted not coming up with a plan. I hadn’t known the reason he’d give for our breakup.

“You’re jealous?” I asked, trying not to fidget.

“Hard not to be when my boyfriend is checking out someone else every time I turn around.”

There were a few football players in the crowd who had been watching in horror, unable to look away, but now they nodded after what Luke said. Luke was already more popular than me and better looking, and I was the cheating partner. He’d win our breakup.

It shouldn’t matter. I should just get this over with but I wanted something. I wanted to win. He was going back to being straight and likable, and I’d be the gay cheater whose social status plummeted impossibly lower. And everyone would wonder how I could be dumb enough to cheat on the captain of the baseball team when I was lucky to have him in the first place.

Luke smiled and started to turn away. Nope, he wasn’t going to leave me here humiliated and alone. “I’m sorry,” I started and he paused, looking unsure about whether he should trust the apology.  Good instincts. “But maybe I have a problem being a phase for you.”

There were gasps.

“Dude, what?” he said quietly, just to me.

I kept talking. “You’re more comfortable dating girls and you know it.”

“But—”

“I’m not the only one looking elsewhere.” I pointed to Lydia, feeling a little bad about dragging her into this.

“Hey, that’s not fair,” Luke tried. “She doesn’t mean anything to me.”

Lydia had an untapped talent for dramatics. She jumped in at that. “How can you say that?” she gasped. “You told me you loved me!” She inserted herself between us for a second and slapped Luke across the face. She stared me down fiercely for a few seconds, then grinned saucily and stormed off while the crowd parted to let her through.

“You got so caught up in having a boyfriend, but you spent no time actually being in this relationship. I need more,” I said bravely, pretending that I was fighting back tears.

“Don’t do that. You’re not into me. That’s what this is really about,” Luke said weakly, trying to get the power back. It was the wrong thing to say.

“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?”

Luke’s face went through a series of emotions too fast for me to interpret. Man, he really was a better actor than I thought, but my heart hammered in my chest too hard to pay attention. Tears welled up in my eyes, no longer fake.

“I think we need to break up,” he said quietly.

“I don’t think so.” His eyes widened. I thought I heard people gasp again. “I know it,” I said, head held high. “We’re over.”

People cleared the way to let me through. I think a couple people even applauded. I just kept my eyes ahead and concentrated on walking down the hall and out of Luke’s life.

Our relationship had been fake, but that breakup seemed real.

This is an excerpt from One Little Word, 

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

No Quick Fixes

heart-3355905_960_720.jpg

I wanted it to happen quickly. No one wants the devastation to last. With my heart ripped in two by you, I hoped to start over. To rise from the ashes of our messy breakup like a phoenix, confident and stable and ready to find someone new.

It doesn’t work like that. For me, there’s not you one day and someone else the next. There’s defeat, there’s heartache. Evenings spent crying into my pillow and wishing for what we had. Getting over you takes work. Time.

But it happens. Slowly. Day by day. No abrupt reversal of fortunes but something steady that happens in inches instead of miles.

That’s okay. Because now when I say I’m over you, I mean it.

via Daily Prompt: Abrupt

The Magicians Best Tricks

magic-3315128_960_720“Is the trick being lamer than humanly possible?” asked my little brother while we watched a magician pull a never-ending scarf from his wrist. My brother Eli was only 10 but even he had seen that one before.

“Stop it,” I muttered.

“I’m just saying, if that’s what he’s trying to pull off, I’m impressed.” Some of his friends laughed at him and the magician took a little bow. I found him online. He went to a different high school and was an amateur; everyone had to start somewhere.

He pulled a quarter from behind someone in the front row’s ear. I hid a laugh when the magician frowned after the kid took the quarter and wouldn’t give it back.

“You wanted a magician for your birthday,” I reminded him. I wasn’t sure why I’d been the one tasked with handling his party. Mom said something about being a good big brother. Dad said something about proving I was responsible if I wanted a car. I think they just didn’t want to do it themselves. Eli was a tough critic.

“I wanted the guy I saw on TV,” he complained.

“Sorry we couldn’t book Criss Angel,” I muttered sarcastically. My parents hadn’t given me much of party budget. My present to my little brother was trying to pretend like this was quality entertainment.

“Or someone like him.” He looked at the spectacle in front of him with open disgust. “Not this.”

It wasn’t the magician’s fault he was an only child. Or at least his siblings weren’t the right age otherwise he would know that this 10-year-old crowd was too old for the bendy magic wand gimmick. Still, the magician had a smile that never wavered when met with this tough crowd. He also had curly dark hair, rich brown skin, and vibrant eyes. I don’t know. I kind of like him.

Wow. Did he have an actual rabbit for a pet or did he buy a rabbit for his act? Okay, he was a little cliché. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. If he was cliché, maybe he’d get me flowers and candies.

The rabbit was smart. The girls at least perked up when the adorable white bunny appeared from the top hat. Eli wasn’t swayed. “It would be better if he pulled that rabbit out of his-“

“Hey now,” I interrupted.

“I need a volunteer for this next trick,” the magician said. “How about the birthday boy?”

“My brother volunteers as tribute,” Eli said quickly.

The magician looked at me and butterflies appeared in my stomach. See, he was good.

I moved to the front and was instructed to pick a card. “Tough crowd,” the guy whispered to me.

“You’re doing great,” I encouraged.

He smiled shyly. “Maybe you could help me practice later.”

Our hands brushed as he took my card and inserted it back into the deck. Electricity. The trick hasn’t stared yet, but I’m already astonished.

via Daily Prompt: Astonish