A Whitewater Christmas

December 25, 2014 at 9:35 am | Posted in Free fiction, Whitewater | Leave a comment
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Well, it’s Christmas Day here in the Southern Hemisphere, so I’d like to wish all of you who celebrate a merry Christmas, and a joyful festive season to those who don’t. Here’s to a happy and healthy time for all of us.

I have a little something for you, a glimpse into the Christmas of Luke and Cam from Whitewater. I hope you enjoy it.

Whitewater_185

It started on the first of December, with the noise of something hitting the landing with what could only be described as a whump. Cam stood at the fridge with an unopened beer bottle in his hand and stared at the front door. After a moment, there was the jangle of metal and the scrape of a key in the lock. The door swung open, Luke’s keys swinging from the door knob, and after another moment Luke appeared, red-faced and sweating, and carrying what seemed like twenty shopping bags on each arm.

“What the hell is all that?”

“Dried fruit,” Luke said breathlessly, dumping all the bags along the wall with a grunt. “About a million kilos of it. I think I cut off the circulation in my arms.”

He came towards Cam. He was wearing shorts, and Cam could see a graze on his left shin, bright red against the purpling bruise around it. Luke kissed him, a quick press of lips, and Cam put an arm around him, Luke pressing his sweaty face into the crook of Cam’s neck when Cam tightened the embrace. “You’ve got a bruise on your shin.”

“Tripped up the stairs with my million kilos of fruit,” Luke said, his voice muffled by Cam’s neck. “I’ve got a case of brandy in the car. Want to help me carry it?”

***

The brandy wasn’t for drinking, unfortunately.

Cam knew that December was a big baking month for Luke, because he’d witnessed it the year before. But they hadn’t been living together then, so the reality of the million kilos of fruit, the sacks of flour, stacks of butter and mountains of six different kinds of sugar in a relatively small space was a little confronting. Never mind the canning equipment and cute decorative jars and bottles for sauces and flavoured vodka. But not being able to move properly around his flat had one upside: getting to watch Luke work. He was just so fucking good at all of it, and he got this look on his face when he was right into whatever he was doing that made Cam want to haul him onto the nearest flat surface and have his way with him. It was a difficult urge to resist.

It was also difficult to resist dried cherries that had been soaked in brandy for a few days. The sound of Luke’s hand smacking down on his knuckles was almost more shocking than the sting of it, and Cam snatched his hand back. “Ow! Just a couple!”

“It was a couple yesterday, and the day before. Keep out of them.” Luke pointed at him, eyebrows drawn, the look in his eyes stern. The effect was ruined just a little by the fact he had a piece of shortbread shaped like a Christmas tree tucked into his palm, and a slight smear of royal icing on his finger. “If I end up not having enough cherries for all of the cakes you’ll be in the doghouse, make no mistake.”

Cam grinned at him, and waggled his eyebrows. “At least then you’ll catch up on your sleep.”
Luke rolled his eyes, glancing over to the living room area before going back to his shortbread, a slight blush on his cheeks and a small smile on his face. Behind him, Cam heard some sniggering, but he ignored it. “Anyway, seems to me that you’d make this whole Christmas thing easier for yourself if you just bought people DVDs. Or socks.”

“Oh, hey, enough of that,” Terry said, right next to his ear, just before a palm slapped the back of his head. “Don’t go putting ideas into the boy’s head. I need more spicy tomato chutney. I’ll die without it.”

“And his strawberry and lime vodka is the nectar of the gods. He didn’t make that one last year. You just wait till you try it.” Aidan leaned across him to filtch one of the shortbreads before following Terry to the door, lifting a hand to wave goodbye. “See you round, mates.”

“Can’t help but notice you didn’t slap his hand,” Cam said as the door closed behind them.

Luke’s slight smile was back. “There are plenty of biscuits at the moment. And he’s a lot less annoying than you.” He put his piping bag down and stepped back from the bench, taking a deep breath. “Right. They’re done, and this round of cakes still has an hour to go.” He paused, picking up a small glass bowl next to his elbow, idly stirring the substance in the bottom of it. “Made too much ganache for the macarons,” he said blandly, but when he looked at Cam, his eyes were practically smouldering. Cam’s stomach flipped. “What do you think we could do with it?” His gaze flicked downwards, then travelled slowly up Cam’s chest. “It’d be a shame for it to go to waste.”

Cam reckoned he would have made a great fireman, if the speed with which he carried Luke—and the ganache—to the bedroom was any indication at all.

***

Luke and his friends always did their Christmas on the twenty-fourth, before they scattered to Sydney’s four winds to see family on Christmas day. Cam took over the cooking for that, planning a tapas-style menu that could for the most part be prepared ahead and served cold to suit the heat of the December days and avoid turning the flat into a hot box. They sat amongst piles of wrapping paper and gifts, eating with their fingers and drinking strawberry and lime vodka and egg nog that was more brandy than nog. A Southerly came up in the afternoon and blew some of the heat out of the day, and when the sun went down they left the lights off so the Christmas beetles wouldn’t batter themselves to death against the screen door trying to get in. Luke’s eyes shone in the glow of the fairy lights on the tree, his smile the brightest thing in the room, as far as Cam was concerned.

The more Luke drank, the fuzzier around the edges he got, and the more he leaned on Cam for support. By the time the others showed themselves out he was tucked up in the vee of Cam’s legs as Cam sat with his back against the lounge, his left leg crooked and supporting Luke’s lower back as Luke curled up with his right shoulder against Cam’s chest and his face tucked into Cam’s neck. Luke had his legs curled up as tightly as they would go, and Cam’s right hand rested on his knee, holding Luke’s left hand, their fingers intertwined. Cam stroked Luke’s side with his left hand over and over; Luke smelled like strawberries and cinnamon and nutmeg, and when he sighed, like brandy, and Cam breathed it all in, letting himself relax and bask in Luke’s warmth, even while his arse was slowly going numb against the hard floor. If asked he probably would have said Luke was asleep, but eventually Luke shifted slightly, the scruff of his beard rough against Cam’s collarbone as he said softly, “Midnight. It’s Christmas day. Merry Christmas, Cam.”

Cam smiled and put a hand up into Luke’s hair, tugging his face up for a kiss. “Merry Christmas, Luke.”

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Cutting Out: the novel, and other lovely things

March 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm | Posted in Free fiction, Writing | Leave a comment
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Despite suffering the catastrophic meltdown of my main laptop on Friday night (it died and is dead, never to be backed up again – thank god for Dropbox is all I can say), I have managed to update my Coming Soon page with the news that Cutting Out, the novel-length adaptation of my short story of the same name, will be out mid-year. So yay to having something new out relatively soon!

In the meantime, I will be occupying myself with another freebie, because I accidentally tripped and fell into the Goodreads M/M Romance group’s annual member prompt frenzy. I didn’t mean to, because I do have other things to write, but when you’re confronted with something that looks like this:

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how can you possibly resist?

Reader, I couldn’t.

The prompt that goes with the post is this, from the lovely Donna:

This is my life… by day I walk on land and I am as human as the man standing next to me… but by night… the water calls to me and I must return to it… all I have ever wanted is a man who would love me for who I am… both day and night…

I would only ask for a story… as beautiful as this photo

So it gets even better. I have Plans for that young man, is all I can say. If having to survive for the next 2 weeks on my very non-grunty netbook until my replacement computer arrives doesn’t kill me first, anyway.

Blokes in Love (new free read)

October 22, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Posted in Anthology, Free fiction, Promotion, Short story, Writing | 4 Comments
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I break my accidental blog hiatus to say that I’ve updated my book pages with some changes. First of all, my novella Rust Red: Galvanized, which is a sequel to my free read Eyes Wide Shut, has now gone out of print. So if you wanted to grab it, you’re out of luck, I’m afraid. At least until I decide what I’m going to do with it.

Second of all, the first M/M meetup in Australia has come and gone. I flew over to Sydney to attend it, and had a fab time, which I will attempt to put into words sometime soon. To commemorate that event, an anthology with six stories from some of the attending authors has been produced. Called Blokes in Love, it’s available for free from Smashwords and All Romance ebooks. All the stories have a common thread, in that they’re all set in either Australia or New Zealand, to showcase life down under. As is fitting for a bunch of bods who love M/M and got together to celebrate being from the southern hemisphere!

Contributing authors were AB Gayle, NJ Nielsen, Jess Buffet, Pelaam, Susan Beck and me. My story is called “Cutting Out”, and it’s the story of Shane Cooper and Lachlan Moore, shearers who work the runs of New Zealand. Serena Yates of Rainbow Book Reviews – who came all the way from the UK to attend the Meet, how good is that? – has reviewed the anthology and loved it.

Of Cutting Out, she said:

…this story about two sheep shearers, one much older than the other, touched me deeply. Shane so desperately wants more than casual encounters with the much younger Lachie, and is devastated when Lachie rejects him. Shane’s situation had me up in arms, railing against the injustices of fate. That was until I got to see things from Lachie’s side, and his reasons for turning down Shane almost made me cry. Be ready for an intense emotional roller coaster as these two men battle their pride and their circumstances!

Below is an excerpt, for your reading pleasure. The lovely cover is courtesy of Jess Buffett, who went the extra mile and made all contributing authors individual covers, in addition to the anthology cover.

Individual cover_185

He’d half expected it, but his heart still jolted when he came face to face with Lachie, his shaggy black hair poking out from under the beanie he wore, his dark brown eyes fixed on Shane’s face.

Lachie offered Shane a tentative smile. “Morning, Coop.”

“Morning,” Shane said gruffly, his heart aching as he stared at Lachie for a few seconds longer before picking up his gear and stowing it in the trailer. When he turned around he didn’t look at Lachie again, directing his gaze somewhere in the vicinity of Lachie’s booted feet. “We’ll be leaving in a minute.”

Lachie said, “Okay…” and Shane stepped around him, heading towards the bus’s sliding door, which was now standing open. Don was there, chatting to the team, and the last-minute instructions he had for Shane were a welcome distraction. Being the first one in the van, Shane folded himself into a seat at the front, slouching down as Jade and Di took the driver and passenger seats and the others piled in behind Shane. Shane’s neck and shoulders loosened just a tiny bit as the new rouseabout—Pania—sat beside him, Lachie casting them a look Shane refused to believe was disappointed as he climbed in after her.

Shane slouched down a bit more as they set off and the others started chatting around him. He knew he wouldn’t be allowed to sit quietly and mind his own business straight away, so he wasn’t surprised when someone grabbed the back of his seat and shook it.

“Coop, did you watch the game over the weekend?” Maaka asked, his voice triumphant. “We thrashed the Wallabies good, didn’t we? We thrashed you good and proper!”

“Didn’t watch it,” Shane said, which wasn’t exactly true. He’d watched it, sitting in the corner of his local pub on his own, surrounded by Kiwis and trying not to let anyone hear him say anything like “six” or “fish and chips” while the Aussies were soundly thrashed by the All Blacks. He’d left at half-time, when all hope was lost. It didn’t matter too much; he’d get his own back when the cricket started, because the Black Caps were the shittiest cricket team in the world, and everyone knew it. He’d let his gang take their victories while they could.

Before Maaka could gloat any more, Pania turned to him. “You from Aussie, then?”

Shane had given up trying to get the Kiwis he knew to call Australia the right nickname—Oz—years ago. It was a losing battle. “Yep. South coast of New South Wales,” he said. “Been here about ten years.” Braced for the question they always asked, he wasn’t disappointed.

“What the hell did you come here for? Isn’t it always the other way around, us going there?”

Shane sighed internally. They never got it. “I’m a shearer,” he said, like he always did, because nobody ever seemed to realise that wasn’t an actual answer before he distracted them with another thing he always said. “I like New Zealand, it’s beautiful. You lot don’t appreciate what you’ve got here. You just focus on the bad things and forget about the good.”

That shut them up for a while, and when they’d all mulled that over and started talking again, the conversation turned from him to other, safer topics. Glancing over his shoulder to find Lachie watching him, he turned back around without acknowledging it. Slumping in his seat some more, Shane settled in to brood for the rest of the trip.

Free fiction: Truce. Rockstar m/m for Ms Tushmore on the occasion of her birthday

March 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Posted in Free fiction | 1 Comment
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A little while ago, Ms Melanie Tushmore announced that what she would really love for her birthday was some fic, written by her writerly friends. Because she is a considerate lass, she left us some prompts to choose from, and when one of the prompts is something that looks like this:

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how could I possibly resist?

Scraping in under the deadline by the skin of my teeth, here is some rockstar m/m for your reading pleasure. It features new, never before seen characters, but there is a cameo by everyone’s favourite band manager, for those of you who have read Metal Heart. 🙂 Do I need to warn for swearing and sexual situations? There you go, I just did.

~

Continue Reading Free fiction: Truce. Rockstar m/m for Ms Tushmore on the occasion of her birthday…

Eyes Wide Shut now available for free at Smashwords and ARe

October 5, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Posted in Color Box, Eyes Wide Shut, Rust Red: Galvanized, Torquere Press | Leave a comment
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Yes, I’ve finally got my act together and uploaded Eyes Wide Shut to All Romance ebooks, and in celebration of that fact I’ve decided to make the book a free read at both Smashwords and ARe. You can grab yourself a copy from Smashwords here and ARe here.

 

Of course if you enjoy EWS you can grab yourself a copy of the sequel, Rust Red: Galvanized, available now from Torquere Press or ARe.

/shameless self promotion.

Free fiction: These Days, an Equilibrium missing/alternate scene

June 20, 2011 at 8:08 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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To celebrate the release of Equilibrium on the 24th, only a few days away now, I’ve got a little freebie story for you all. This one starts about a week before Equilibrium does, and continues on through the first meeting of our heroes, Michael and Ryan. This time, though, we get to see things through Ryan’s eyes. We also get to meet Murphy the Labrador. 🙂

Thanks to misslj_author and empty_tea for the read through.

These Days, an Equilibrium short

Eleven o’clock was too early for lunch, but Ryan had been up since five and he was starving. There were no parks in front of the pub when he drove past, and the supermarket was his final destination anyway, so he parked there instead and walked down Burreela’s main street to get back to the pub. It was a stupid decision, because it was stinking hot, like it always was in January, with the new year barely a week old. There wasn’t a cool breath of air to be had, and he was only saved from the beating sun by his battered old Akubra hat and the shop awnings shading the footpath. Even with the shade, by the time he reached the door of the pub his face was damp and he could feel his t-shirt sticking to his back. He closed his eyes when he opened the pub door, stepped inside, and was hit by a blast of cold air from the air conditioners. He took his hat off and swiped the back of his arm over his forehead before walking toward the bar. At that time of day there was only a handful of patrons scattered around the bar, and there wasn’t a single stranger among them.

“Well, well, Ryan bloody Mitchell.”

“Jonesy,” Ryan said as he took a seat at the bar. Peter Jones had played on the footie team with Ryan at school, almost ten years previously; when Ryan became a policeman and moved to Sydney, Jonesy had stayed to help his dad run the family pub. He was built like a brick shithouse, a volunteer fireman when he wasn’t at the pub; he was also one of the most heterosexual men Ryan had ever known. Sadly. “How’s it hanging?”

Jonesy grinned. “Down to my knees, matey, down to my knees.”

At the other end of the bar, Alison, Jonesy’s wife, made a disbelieving noise as she wiped down the bar.

Jonesy laughed. “Take no notice of my missus, she just doesn’t want you to be jealous. What can I get you?”

Ryan laughed. “Just a Coke and a menu. The kitchen’s open, right?”

“Yep,” Jonesy said, and handed him a laminated menu. “Coke coming right up.”

Ryan studied the menu until Jonesy brought him his drink. “Thanks.” He picked it up and took a large mouthful.

Jonesy watched him. “You met the new vet yet?”

Ryan put his glass down and shook his head. “No. The only thing I’ve heard is that there is one.” Ryan tried not to involve himself in gossip. “Girl or guy?”

Jonesy leaned on the bar. “Guy. I heard he came up from Sydney.”

Ryan’s stomach flipped, but he ruthlessly shoved down any spark of hope he felt. The likelihood of the guy being gay was slim. Not everyone from Sydney was gay, or even open-minded about gays. He took another mouthful of his drink. “What’s he like?”

Jonesy shrugged. “Dunno. Okay, I suppose.”

Alison, who’d moved closer with her cleaning cloth, rolled her eyes. “Honestly, babe, God help us all if you ever have to give evidence in a court case.” She looked at Ryan. “His name’s Michael, and he seems nice enough. A bit shy, maybe, and nervous, like he’s just about to bolt for the door all the time, but I suppose it’s hard moving somewhere like here when you’re used to Sydney.” Her gaze sharpened, turned calculating as she sized Ryan up. “He’s a little shorter than you, I reckon, about six foot, and he’s got dark brown hair and eyes that are that blue-grey colour. He’s a little on the thin side, and kind of nerdy-looking, like he’s done nothing but study chemistry all his life. Even if he hasn’t, I don’t think he’s spent much time outside, because he’s as pale as pale can be.” She smiled. “He’s pretty though. Really pretty. So he’s just the sort of fresh meat we want around here.” Her smile turned into a grin. “Anything else you want to know?”

Ryan felt a little wide-eyed, and when he looked at Jonesy, he looked that way too. “Ah… No. I don’t think so. That’s… Wow. He’s only been here a few days, hasn’t he? That’s a lot to notice in such a short time.”

Alison shook her head at him. “No, it’s not, it’s just that you men don’t notice anything at all about anyone. If it were up to you lot, we’d have to get around in total ignorance.” She gestured at the menu he held. “Decided what you want yet?”

“Oh. Ah…” Ryan looked down at the menu again, and chose the first thing that he saw. “I’ll have the steak sandwich, thanks. Medium rare.”

“Medium rare steak sandwich,” she repeated, taking his menu and walking through the door to the kitchen.

Ryan and Jonesy stared at each other for a minute. “Wow,” Ryan said again. “Fresh meat, huh?”

Jonesy nodded. “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

Ryan took another mouthful of Coke, suddenly wishing it was beer. “Mate. You can say that again.”

Continue Reading Free fiction: These Days, an Equilibrium missing/alternate scene…

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