Welcome to the September 2016 edition of Guest Grinders, our monthly column with authors N.R. Walker, Cardeno C., Ella Frank, Christina Lee, Felice Stevens, Lane Hayes & Riley Hart. Today they are all sharing a sneak peek at the It Was Always You anthology to benefit http://onenten.org.
LANE HAYES: Hi there! I’m so excited to be part of the MM Daily Grind anthology, It Was Always You. Here is a brief excerpt from my novella, Change of Course. This will be mini peek into my new series set in San Francisco. I’m looking forward to introducing everyone to this group of college friends, beginning with Eric and Zane. Why isn’t it October yet?
Change of Course by Lane Hayes:
When we were alone at one of our condos the subtle shift in our friendship became an almost palpable thing. I cautioned myself not to read anything into it, but being in close proximity without the buffer of other friends or strangers felt… intimate. The slightest brush of his hand made my pulse skitter and my heart thump against my chest. Unlike at a bar where I could stare into his eyes or study his full lips while nodding along with the conversation; in private, I was exposed. It had only happened twice over the past two weeks but both instances proved to be an exercise in keeping my eyes locked on men in tight pants on the television while sitting with a drink in my lap, praying my boner wasn’t obvious.
FELICE STEVENS: I can’t wait to read everyone’s stories in the anthology. Here is a brief excerpt from my novella entitled, Please Don’t Go. I’m not sure where I’ll take these guys next, but I really enjoyed bringing Danny and Paul’s story to life:
Please Don’t Go by Felice Stevens:
For years they’d gone to summer camp together, where Danny had the best times of his life. He may have been two years younger than Paul, but his friend never complained about Danny hanging around. They went swimming and hiking together and though Danny had been terrified, Paul taught him how to sail and horseback ride. Countless times Paul had been his savior from the constant bullying by the older, more athletic kids, who took enjoyment out of teasing him when he floundered in the pool or shied away from a dodge ball kicked directly at his face. One menacing look from Paul was enough to send them scurrying away like mice. Late at night Danny would lie sleepless in his bunk, frustrated with a longing for Paul he barely understood himself, but one he knew for certain Paul didn’t return.
The most vivid memory of the two of them was Paul, forever the daredevil with courage enough for them both, urging him to jump from the high rock overhanging the lake. Together they stood on the edge, the trees rustling in the breeze, air soft with the scents of summer and Paul holding his hand tightly. Sharp and clear, that day had stayed with Danny for all these years:
“Hold on to me. I’ll always be there to catch you if you fall.”
N.R. WALKER: I’m so excited for this anthology, and I can’t wait for everyone to read Perfect Catch, and meet Cal and Troy. This is a short, stand-alone story, but it was fun to write, and always a pleasure to bring Aussie country boys to life.
Perfect Catch by N.R. Walker
We fished all afternoon. This time we walked farther up to where the river broadened, and we stood knee-deep in the water about thirty metres apart. I wasn’t sure if I caught him looking at me every so often or if it was me who got caught looking at him.
But he’d look away all shy-like, and it did stupid things to my heartbeat. I spent the entire time mechanically throwing out my line and slowly reeling it back in, not thinking a single thought about fishing.
My mind was stuck on Troy.
We’d spent our entire dating lives out of sync. When he was single, I was seeing someone else and vice versa. There was never really a time when we were single at the same time, until now.
Actually, he’d been single for a while, and I’d just broken up with Shane. Not that I was ever serious about Shane. I mean, he was a nice guy, but we weren’t truly compatible. We’d fooled around a little, and after ‘dating’ for about a month, we still hadn’t had sex. I wasn’t that into him, and when he asked if it was a step I’d consider taking some point soon, I declined and he bailed.
Troy never really liked him, and that was a turn off for me. If the guy I was seeing didn’t like my friends or if they didn’t like him, I wasn’t seeing him for much longer. I knew where my loyalties lay: mates before dates, always. Sure, like Troy said I’d had a string of boyfriends, but none of them were ever around for too long. There was Ryan, who last year I’d seen for about six months, but he just wasn’t… I don’t know. He wasn’t what I was looking for.
He wasn’t Troy.
Suddenly he was beside me. “Are you trying to solve an algebra equation in your head, or you trying to fart?”
I hadn’t heard him come over. His question made me laugh. “What?”
“That look on your face,” he said, smiling broadly. “It’s either maths or gas.”
I barked out a laugh. “I take it the fish aren’t biting for you either?”
“Nah. Wanna call it a day?”
“Yep.” I reeled in my line, hooking the fly up to an eyelet on the rod. He was staring at my fingers. “You alright?”
“Yeah, yeah,” he said, wading his way to the riverbank. “Suppose I better get that dinner started.”
I followed him back to camp, where he scaled and gutted the fish, and I got the fire started. Then I put together some bread and salad while he cooked. We were like a left and right hand. We worked autonomously, we moved around each other with a familiarity I’d never known with anyone else.
I held up the two plates, and he slid a portion of fish onto each one. I handed him his, and we sat back in front of the fire and ate in a peaceful, easy silence. The sun was getting ready to call it a day, the horizon a spray of oranges and blues. The evening was warm, crickets and birds were telling bedtime stories, and Troy smiled as he sipped his beer.
It was pretty fucking perfect.
CARDENO C.: Hi, everyone! Here’s a short excerpt from my antho story, written in my usual sappy, sugary style. (Okay, maybe not this particular excerpt but the story is sweet – I promise!) – Cardeno C.
Cardeno C.’s Short Story
Kyle sneered at the tall, muscular blond. “Tell me something, which decision came first? Wearing sweatpants in public or giving up on life?”
“I’m surprised to see you out and about without that checkered beret,” Brent responded, smoothly sliding into the only remaining empty seat. “How is anyone going to buy your phony French accent trick if you don’t have your props? Or have you given up on that one and decided to go straight to paying for sex?”
“It’s not a beret, it’s a fedora,” Kyle corrected. And it was very fashionable. He had seen it in GQ.
Ignoring him, Kyle continued speaking. “And I don’t need to pay for sex. I made out with a straight guy last month, remember?”
It was the last time Kyle had been able to squeeze in down time and Brent had, of course, been there.
“The man made out with you. Ergo, he wasn’t straight.” Brent turned to Matthew. “Have you guys ordered drinks?”
“He was wearing pleated pants,” Kyle said defensively.
Drawing in a deep breath, Brent returned his focus to Kyle. “In a gay bar. He was wearing pleated pants in. A. Gay. Bar.” Brent shook his head. “That means he has bad fashion sense, not that he’s into women.”
Of course Brent, who was constantly swarmed by more men than the mosquitos Kyle had fought off during his summers growing up in Alabama, had to diminish Kyle’s conquests.
“Speaking of bad fashion sense…” Kyle squinted. “Your shirt looks like you slept in it and there are holes in at least three places.”
“This is a vintage BWI shirt. It’s practically in mint condition.” Brent leaned over the table and looked at Kyle as he sat down. “And you’re wearing a suit to a bar because…”
“I had a work dinner tonight,” Kyle said, smoothing down his tie. “Some of us have jobs.”
“And some of us have trust funds that earn more than those jobs.”
CHRISTINA LEE: OMG, these are awesome! I got caught up reading your stories. Well mine is called THE SWEETEST GOODBYE. If you’re a fan of my Roadmap to Your Heart series and you’ve read The Deepest Blue, this is Billie’s story (Callum’s younger brother) with a new character named Dylan. If not, no worries, it can be read as a standalone.
The Sweetest Goodbye by Christina Lee
“What would you say to him?”
“What?” My brain was foggy as Dylan sucked at a spot on my neck and he was going to leave a mark if he didn’t cut that shit out.
“We’re just pretending, right?” Dylan asked, leaning his head back, his eyes meeting mine. “Isn’t that what this is? It’s Saturday night and we’re just having a good time?”
I nodded numbly. Yet, I felt the words form in my mouth. The ones I would never say out loud because he was just having fun and playing a game.
This doesn’t feel like pretending.
RILEY HART: I’m so excited about this anthology! I can’t wait to read all of the stories. My store is titled DARE YOU TO. I had a blast writing Austin and Dare. In this scene, Dare is asking Austin about a man he’s currently dating. Dare likes to live life on the edge. Austin is quite, likes to read and works at an LGBTQ youth center.
Dare to You by Riley Hart
“He’s a good man.”
“Oh shit, are you going to go and fall in love with this guy?” Dare asked, a strange twinge to his voice that Austin hadn’t heard before.
“What? No.” Austin shook his head. “I like him, though. As I said, we have a lot in common. He doesn’t think my choice in movies would put him to sleep,” Austin teased. Really, if there was a form with questions for the kind of man who would be perfect for Austin, he was pretty sure Brian would check every box that should be checked.
“Hmm.” Dare reached over for more popcorn. “I’m not sure I like him. He definitely doesn’t like me. He looked at me like I was something he stepped in. He seems a little boring in my book, and like an asshole. Assholes are usually fun. If you make ass boring, there’s something wrong with you.”
“Oh, great, Dare. I just said he and I have a lot in common, and now you say he’s an ass. Spending time with you really boosts my self-esteem.” Austin set the bowl of popcorn on the table and crossed his arms. He was being ridiculous, and he wasn’t sure why. The truth was, hearing Dare say that made his insides twist up. He’d always felt boring and sure didn’t want to hear that someone he related to had a quality he’d always feared was him.
“Shut up,” Dare nudged him. “You know I don’t think you’re boring or an ass—the bad kind of ass, at least. We balance each other out, and when you do pick a movie I don’t love or want to stay home to read a book, you get the best friend pass.”
Austin opened his mouth to tell Dare to fuck off, but Dare spoke again, “I never really had a best friend before you.”
The 99¢ pre-order is ONLY available on iBooks.
The anthology will available on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and iBooks on the October 4th release date for $2.99.
This is a LIMITED TIME release. It will only be for sale until the end of 2016 and more than likely will not be available in print. But that may change. We’ll keep you posted.
All proceeds from this anthology will be donated to the LGBTQ youth organization ONE.N.TEN: http://onenten.org!
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!