Release — Boarding Action

I just had a new story released, “Boarding Action,” in the pirate themed anthology Walk the Plank.

Walk the Plank is a Taste Test, a short anthology with three stories all on a theme. Short stories sold alone cost $1.29; Taste Tests have three and sell for $2.49, so it’s a little better than getting one free. πŸ™‚

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Cam and his friends plan a pirate themed prank to play on their friend Marsha Donovan and her father. They dress up and go out in their motorboat with their pirate costumes, plastic swords and water guns, hoping to stage a fun, fake pirate attack on the Donovans’ yacht, then spend the afternoon swimming and cruising. Of course it all goes wrong, and Cam’s friends bail on him, leaving him to face an angry — but hot — man with a gun who wants to know just WTF he thought he was doing.

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Cam had been out with Marcia’s family on their boat a few times and knew where they usually went. There was a series of beaches up the coast where Mr. Donovan liked to anchor and fish. They cruised by, keeping an eye out for the distinctive white hull, but didn’t have any luck. Next, Cam directed David out to a cluster of islands Marcia liked; the tiny beaches there were quieter than the mainland, and sometimes she could persuade her dad to go there, even thought the fishing wasn’t as good.

They cruised around the wooded islands for half an hour or so, then Ted yelled, “There! Hah! Gear up, me hearties!”

Cam snickered and made sure his head scarf was straight, then dug his hat out from behind the cooler where he’d stuck it to keep it from blowing overboard or getting stepped on. David aimed the go-fast right for the Donovans’ yacht and the other three all pulled their plastic swords and waved them around, smacking each other a few times in the process.

He happened to be on the right side of the boat when David pulled up to the swim platform at the stern of the anchored yacht, so Cam was the first off. He hopped over while Ted bellowed from behind him, “Ho the yacht! Come out with yer hands in the air and bring yer valuables, arrr!”

Idiot, Cam thought with a grin and a smirk. He scrambled up the ladder with his plastic sword still in his hand, then heard the approaching patter of feet. Bare feet, and coming a lot faster than Mr. Donovan — who was pushing three hundred pounds if he was an ounce — could possibly manage without falling over with a heart attack. Hah, it had to be Marcia!

Facing the far corner of the cabin, Cam dropped his sword and leveled his water-uzi at the place where his friend would appear. Ted appeared on the ladder behind him with his own water gun in hand, and Stone and David piled up behind him.

Cam turned to give his friends a grin, then looked back toward the far corner just as a blond figure came dashing into view. He stepped forward and yelled, “Hey, Marcia!” and let loose with a stream of water just as the newcomer aimed a gun right between his eyes. The blond — who was definitely not Marcia — yelled, “Fuck!” just as Cam yelped in fear and ducked. He heard an explosion right next to his head and dropped down onto the deck, curled up in a ball with his hands over his ears.

A blast of swearing drifted around him, with drumming footsteps, a slightly more distant thump! splat! thump! and then the roar of an engine zooming away.

Cam’s heart was banging away double-time; he could feel it slamming into his ribs and his breath was coming in short, panting puffs around it. All he could think of was that they’d made a mistake, that this wasn’t the Selkie and they’d played pirate-attack on some stranger’s yacht two weeks after another boat had been attacked and the pissed-off owner was going to shoot him and dump his body onto the pier for the harbor police and if he ever got his hands on Ted he was going to strangle the idiot, and then himself for going along with such a half-assed–

Someone kicked him in the thigh and snapped, “Get the fuck up! Who are you and what the hell were you doing?”

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Also included in the book are “Canons and Honor” by PD Singer, and “Life on the Ocean Wave” by Mara Ismine. Get the whole thing here!

Release — In the Driver’s Seat

I just had a new short story released, In the Driver’s Seat. πŸ™‚

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Brian is used to being in control in the bedroom, but somehow he’s found himself without anyone to play with. Then he runs into recently-returned — and surprisingly grown-up — Val, who he knew years before as a cute high-school kid. Val’s not a high-school kid anymore, though, and there’s an air about him that says he’s been around and has had a few lessons in the bedroom.
Brian’s eager to provide some advanced schooling, but his assumptions end up getting him into trouble. To his own surprise, he finds it’s a kind of trouble he’s not all that eager to escape.

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Brian Stokes gave a rueful wave to his sometime fuck-buddy, Tom, who was being dragged out the door of the Banner Street Gym — and without even a chance to shower — by his new boyfriend, Alan or Alex or Aaron or something like that. Brian blew a kiss to Tom’s slightly hunched and retreating back, flipped the bird at the evil glare whatever-his-name was aiming at Brian over his shoulder, then stepped over to the desk with a pitiful sigh and started sorting through the box of member cards, looking for his own workout record.

Kelsie, the desk clerk, gave him a look of exaggerated pity, all puppy eyes and trembling lower lip, then dropped the act and giggled at him. “What’s the matter, Bri? Left dating your hand again?”

“I’ll have you know I never date my hand,” Brian replied with a sniff and an arched eyebrow. “I just fuck it occasionally and then roll over and go to sleep.”

“So you treat it just like everyone else, then,” said Kelsie.

Brian opened his eyes wide and pressed one hand to his chest in exaggerated pain. “Kelsie! What’d I ever do to you?”

“Nothing, unfortunately. I’d even go for one of your one-nighters,” she added, giving him an appreciative down-and-up look, “but you won’t even throw me that much of a bone.”

“Sorry, honey — incompatible equipment.” Brian leaned both elbows on the counter and gave her an apologetic smile. “If I swung that way, I promise you’re the first woman I’d grab.”

Kelsie managed to eyeroll and giggle simultaneously.

Contrary to popular opinion, Brian actually preferred having someone regular to tackle into bed. Not necessarily something as formal as a “lover” — he liked some variety occasionally and official lovers tended to think about relationships and monogamy and all that — but someone who liked to play the same games, someone he could get used to and who’d get used to him, to learn each other’s spots and tells and noises and expressions.

He and Tom had had that, the familiarity that comes with experience, when you’d had sex with the same person often enough that you just knew what they needed and how much was almost too much and what that little gasp meant. Tom had known everything about Brian, too, and they’d had a lot of good times together, even a few threesomes with some random hot guy they’d pick up at a bar for the night. It’d been great, just enough without being too much, at least in Brian’s opinion. Tom had disagreed, though, after twenty really awesome months. Or at least, what Brian had thought’d been really awesome.

Guess not.

Whatever.

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Get the whole thing here!

New Release — Candy Courage

I just realized I never posted a link to my Halloween story. Torquere’s Halloween Blitz was published on October 30th this year — I couldn’t get a reliable connection from the ship, then afterward I just didn’t think about it. :/

Mine is Candy Courage. Glenn Bellamy, a divorced dad, is taking his son around trick-or-treating. He confiscates some homemade peanut brittle — and eats it himself of course — not knowing that the old man who made it is an alchemist who adds something special to his candy each year. This year it was Courage, so when Glenn and his son hit Neal Sampson’s house, Glenn finds himself flirting and making a date for the next day. Will the candy courage wear off, or will Glenn find the guts to go after what he wants?

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Sebastiano Fiorentelli studied the calendar — a freebie from the Humane Society with photos of puppies and kittens on it — on the wall of his cluttered basement laboratory and observed that it was the thirtieth day of October. Since emigrating to the United States and discovering the Halloween custom of sending children around to beg for treats, he’d made a habit of including something extra in the candy he made for the occasion each year. By the Nineteen-seventies, when hysteria over poison and razor blades swept the population, Mr. Fiorentelli had been living in his San Jose neighborhood long enough that no one fussed about letting their children eat his wax-paper-wrapped candies.

He paced back and forth in front of open cabinets and crowded shelves, pondering what to make this year, until finally he stopped and nodded.

“Courage,” he said. “This year, I think I’ll make courage…”

***

The next evening, Robbie Matheson, age eight, refused to share the wax-wrapped peanut brittle he’d gotten from old Mr. Fiorentelli on the corner. His real favorite candy was those little Milky Way bars, but Mr. Fiorentelli made some pretty cool candy and he always knew he had to eat it as soon as he could or his mom would sneak it.

Ten minutes later, he stood in his room and stared out the window into the dark back yard at the trampoline cage. His big sister Stephanie had been bouncing in it since she was five and had been teasing Robbie for being a scaredy-cat for the last three years, because no matter how his sister had taunted or his parents had coaxed or his friends had snickered, he’d refused to even stand on the trampoline.

Robbie knew — really knew — that he couldn’t get hurt in the cage unless he landed on his head or something. Just bouncing up and down without trying any flips or anything was perfectly safe. He knew that.

Of course he knew that.

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Get the whole thing here. πŸ˜€

Angie

Free Story and a Sale

It’s my turn on the Advent Calendar over at Torquere — you can read my story “Catching Courage,” which is a sequel to “Chasing Fear,” here. Things have improved a little since Halloween for Emilio, but not as much as he’d like. Now it’s New Year’s Eve and they’re spending it with Martin’s family, which always makes Emilio hunch into his shell whether it’s logical or not. Can he convince his gut of what his head already knows?

Includes a free bonus recipe for tres leches cake, although not, unfortunately, Abuela Sandoval’s recipe. πŸ˜‰

All the other Advent pieces are still available through the main Advent page.

Also, my novelette “A Spirit of Vengeance” is on sale for 15% off here through January 2nd.

Happy New Year, everyone! [wave]

Angie

New Release — The Joy of Exchanging Gifts

Lowell is an anthropologist, working with the Enknopans, studying their culture and ways. They haven’t completely accepted him, so he’s not invited to their year changing celebration. He decides to show his very good Enknopan friend Tiklup some of his own Christmas traditions, but things don’t work out exactly as planned. Can he still have a happy holiday?

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Well, ho fucking ho, Lowell thought, shifting one more time in the barely-too-tight smoke hole. He knew it was useless; he’d been wedged in for over an hour and a half and all he’d managed to accomplish with his pushing and squirming was to get himself in even tighter.

It’d seemed like a fun idea at the time. Of course, some variation of that statement was probably carved into a million gravestones across the Hundred Worlds, and on billions more memorial markers in various alien languages in the far corners of the universe. (There were actually a hundred and eighteen known human-inhabited worlds, but the Recovery League thought “The Hundred Worlds” sounded better on the news posts. Early in his career as an anthropologist, Lowell had learned that in most cultures, facts had to bow to considerations of marketing and image, or whatever the locals called them.)

The local tribe, the Enknopans, were all gathered somewhere outside their settlement, engaging in some sort of year’s turning ritual which involved renewing family bonds. Lowell had been told, very politely, that he was not welcome to participate or even to observe, since he wasn’t related to any of the Enknopan clans.

It’d been a sharp disappointment, not only because Lowell was specifically there to study the Enknopan culture and lifeways, but also because he’d come to feel close to the people there; being so firmly excluded was a reminder that he was still an outsider. It’d been a while since he’d received quite so clear a reminder, and it’d stung a bit.

To show that he didn’t hold a grudge, and also because the learning and sharing had to go both ways in order to be ethical and respectful, he’d decided to share a Terran year’s turning ritual with the Enknopans, and specifically with his friend Tiklup. Tiklup had taught Lowell how to carve wood with a knife, and Lowell had made him a covered bowl with a leaf pattern on the lid. It was pretty crude by local standards, the sort of thing a youngster just learning to carve would make, but Lowell was just learning and he was proud of it. Tiklup had been encouraging, and Lowell was sure he’d appreciate the effort, and understand that it was a tribute to his teaching.

Besides, they’d come to be very good friends, with all that meant to the Enknopans, who had some unusual (to a Terran) ideas about public and private activities.

The local star, called Upiklip by the locals and noted as FUSC-32829 on the most common star charts, was just beginning to show over the horizon. Of course Lowell was facing east, and he hadn’t brought his hat or his sun visor. Upiklip was whiter than Sol, where Lowell had been born, and emitted more UV radiation than he was used to. If no one came to pry him out soon, he’d be sizzled good. His first few days on planet, he’d gone without a hat a couple of times and the sunburn had penetrated all the way down to his scalp. He’d looked like he had a terminal case of dandruff for the next week, with huge flakes of peeling skin working their way out of his hair.

Lowell moaned and buried his face in his crossed arms.

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Get the rest here.

New Release — A Spirit of Vengeance

My novelette, “A Spirit of Vengeance,” was released today at Torquere. This is one of my favorite stories and I’m excited to see it go up. πŸ˜€

When Josh comes home from a business trip to find out that his lover, Kevin, has been killed, his life takes a terrible turn. Even worse, Kevin is haunting him, wanting Josh to exact revenge on his killer. Josh thinks Kevin is a hallucination to begin with, but he soon starts to believe that his lover’s spirit is really hanging around.

As he begins to believe in Kevin’s ghost, Josh also starts to believe he knows who killed Kevin. He’s not sure what to do, and neither is Kevin, who never really considered an afterlife. Can these two figure out how to catch a killer and how to move on with life after death?

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Kevin came to him in a dream. Josh threw his arms around him and tried to kiss him, desperate to take what he could before he woke up or the scene shifted into something else, but his dream-lover grabbed him by the arms and shook him, holding him away so he could glare into his eyes.

“Help me, damn it!”

The demand was a barked order, an angry snarl, and at first Josh could only stand there in shock. Finally he managed, “Of course. Um, Kevin? God, Kevin!” He tried again to reach out but the grip on his upper arms would only let him grip his lover’s forearms in return. They felt more solid than he’d have expected from a dream, hard and trembling with tension. “What do you want? What can I do? Tell me!”

“Help me! Get the fucker who did this!” Kevin punctuated the demand with a hard shake.

“Oww! Stop, please! I’ll help you, of course I will!” Josh tried to pull away. He’d never been afraid of Kevin before, but a coil of fear was wrapping itself around his insides and squeezing. He shivered in an icy wind and wished he could huddle up against his lover to get warm but the cold seemed to be coming from Kevin, whipping around him.

“Help me!” Kevin demanded, his voice rough with fury.

“Yes! I will, I will!”

“Kill him! Kill the fucker for me!” Kevin roared.

Josh could only stand there, his lover’s hands crushing the flesh of his arms into his bones, and his mouth hanging open, until he woke up with a gasping cry, his heart pounding and his body drenched with sweat.

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Get the rest here.

New Release — Chasing Fear

Torquere is doing a blitz of short stories especially for Halloween. Mine is called Chasing Fear and it’s a short, erotic urban fantasy. Well, technically urban. πŸ™‚

Emilio loves Martin with everything he has, but he’s still scared to go out and be openly gay, especially with the way his family reacted to the news. Martin just wants to go out and have a good time, so he pushes Emilio’s limits to the breaking point. Emilio figures having a Greenman for a lover has its dangers, especially when it comes to going on a date in the great outdoors. Can he and Martin learn to see eye to eye?

Sample:

It got dark early in late October, and more so in the thick, steep corners of Griffith Park where the trees fought for the sun, and clearing away undergrowth wasn’t as high a priority as it was in the more popular, path-wound areas. Emilio Cardenas liked it up there for the quiet and empty space and the sense of being small and alone in the middle of Nature — it was a tough feeling to find in the heart of metropolitan southern California, even for a ranger. He got twitchy when he spent too much time with people, though, and the heavy rain over the weekend had given him the perfect excuse to escape.

Sure enough, one of the tough old oaks that’d been loosening its grip on the soil sliding out from under it over the last few years had finally lost the battle and toppled. He didn’t call for help with it; instead he spent the day taking it apart himself with the chainsaw and moving the wood downslope to where his little electric truck was parked on a narrow dirt trail.

Leaving the largest trunk sections round had meant he could just give them a shove and let them roll down to the flattish trail. Most of them had hung up on the viburnum shrubs at the downslope side of the path and the two that’d kept on going he’d just left; they’d make a great habitat for bugs and fungus as they rotted. The rest he’d finished cutting up and piled in the back of the truck.

It was twilight by the time he finished and the rougher trails were tricky to drive at the best of times, even in the narrow park vehicle. He should’ve hopped right up and headed back to the station and home to where MartΓ­n would be waiting, probably eyeing the clock and scowling, but instead he just stood for a while and felt the chill dark of early evening creeping across his skin.

A night sparrow called nearby and Emilio listened to its aggressive chirruping. When it had quieted, he pulled out a bottle of water and drank. It was another delaying tactic and he knew it, as was walking over to one of the healthy oaks a few paces off the path and leaning back against the trunk. It was dark enough that he could’ve seen a few stars if he’d been on open ground, even in the middle of LA County. All that was visible overhead from beneath the trees, though, were the dark, squirming branches, the ropes of climbing ivy and millions of shivering leaves.

A loop of ivy dropped out of the tree like a black snake and wound itself around his chest. Emilio gave a frightened shout and tried to move away, but the ivy tightened. One of his arms was caught and before he could get a good grip with the other, another vine bound it to the tree trunk, swooping up from below this time.

Emilio cursed again and a dark, masculine silhouette moved out of the shaded wood. The man strolled over to where Emilio was still struggling against the vines and cocked his head, looking him up and down. Emilio glared at him and jerked hard against the ropey vines, which had grown to the thick, tough wood of old, established ivy. He knew who it had to be, even before the man stepped out of shadow.

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Read the whole story here.

New Release — Learning to Love Yourself

Just released by Torquere Press, “Learning to Love Yourself” is a short, erotic SF story.

Baran and his shipmate, Theo, have landed their ship in an alternative universe where just about anything might happen. In fact, the oddest things do happen, including Baran meeting his otherworldly doppelganger, which turns to out to be far more interesting, and enlightening, than he thought possible. Can Baran learn to get over his hang ups and learn to tell Theo how he feels by learning to love himself first?

Sample:

Luckily, most spaceports were run on a pretty pragmatic philosophy of one flavor or another, largely based on a desire to persuade the bore traders who’d usually just done their best to fleece the locals for all they were worth to leave as much of their profit as possible behind. With the exception of a few chapters that made Baran and Theo’s home page look downright sybaritic, pretty much all of them had a place for ship crews to spend their leisure time and partake of fresh food, strong intoxicants and negotiable companionship. It was always the first place Baran went and he was feeling a powerful need for it right then.

He’d just gotten through the main doors and was trying to decide whether to go for the food or the (female!) companionship first when he was grabbed from behind, spun around and enveloped in a strangling hug that lifted him off his feet. Once he’d gotten his breath back, he looked, then stared wide-eyed and gaping at– himself.

“Hey!” he (the other he) babbled, sporting a manic grin and still hanging onto his shoulders. “Took you long enough to process through! This is great, I love meeting myself! Wow, you still have the beard! I tried it but got rid of it — no matter what you do this side of the mustache always ends up crooked and that just looks dumb. Whatever you’re into, though. It’s funny how many of us still have it so I guess it’s not that bad. I’ve got a room, let’s go catch up!”

Baran found himself being dragged along by a chattering madman whose topics of conversation bounced like a superball in zero-G. A madman whose dark, waving hair, thin beak of a nose and broad smile matched his own exactly. Except for the lack of beard.

“–got a ping when you checked in from orbit, couldn’t wait to meet you; I love meeting myself. It’s just a trip; I always wanted to travel to other pages, but it just didn’t work out that way so I work here at the Welcome Center–”

Was I ever like that? Baran wondered to himself, listening with one ear while the rest of his consciousness hunkered down behind a wall and peered over the top. He wasn’t sure whether to be horrified or crack up.

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Get the whole story here.