Monday, January 26, 2009

I Do anthology edited by Kris Jacen

Do you support the right of any human being to marry the person they love? The right to say 'I Do' to a life of commitment and sharing with that one special person? We do.

The following authors have donated stories to the "I DO!" anthology in support of Lambda Legal Fund, which will receive all profits from the anthology. Printing and distribution costs have been kindly donated by MLR Press.

Alex Beecroft: Desire and Disguise
Sexual starvation makes for strange bedfellows in this 18th Century tale of love and despair.

Charlie Cochrane: The Roaming Heart
Sometimes you shouldn't believe everything you read in the gossip columns.

Fiona Glass: Salad Days
A fennel bulb causes havoc between two lovers in this 'kitchen-sink' style romp.

Jeanne Barrack: Finally Forever
A dream destroyed. A promise fulfilled. In today's America, there are still some places where wishes come true.

P.A. Brown: The Mistake
A hungry West Hollywood hustler, a hot cop and a pair of keyless handcuffs come together in a Hollywood motel room.

Erastes: The Snow Queen
The Snow Queen is impervious to love. Josh isn't.

Tracey Pennington: Lindorm's Twin
To save two kingdoms, an outcast prince without a name and a lonely young man half-freed from enchantment must outwit a serpentine king and his sorceress spouse.

Clare London: Outed
Guy said afterwards it was a relief to him that someone finally said something, but did it have to be Auntie Queenie's apparently artless comment, right in the middle of her eightieth birthday celebration tea?

Sharon Bidwell: Swansong
Richard believes what little love he had in his life has withered and died, but now the time has come for him to sing his own song.

Lisabet Sarai: Making Memory
A workaholic city girl facing her father's senility and a middle-aged widow from down-east Maine learn that love has no boundaries and that only the present matters.

Storm Grant: Lust in Translation
Sex, drugs, and a blinding reaction.

Marquesate: Code of Honour
The legion's motto was "Legio Patrio Nostra", but with Sergent Roux, Joe found more than just his home.

Lee Rowan: Wedding Announcement
For Kevin, telling his father the truth was more unnerving than anything he'd ever faced on the battlefield.

ZA Maxfield: Tango and Temptation
Dance and dishonesty bring two men closer than they necessarily want to be in this contemporary story of choosing between what is easy and what is real.

Moondancer Drake: True Love
Shona and Kai discover that even though their dream of having a child together is about to come true, not all dreams come with a perfect ending.

Mallory Path: Rules of the Game
When words fail, Charlie must come up with a new way of finding out what his partner really wants.

Emma Collingwood: Semi-detached
Is gay marriage a matter of equality, commitment or home improvement?

Allison Wonderland: Holy Macaroni (and Cheese)
At the ripe old age of six, two girls decide to jump the broom.

Jerry L. Wheeler: Templeton's In Love
A farewell concert frames a tale of two reunited lovers.

Cassidy Ryan and Zoe Nichols: Better than beautiful
Becca is busy planning her wedding to Charlotte, but Charlotte has been making plans of her own.

Victor J. Banis
Author of The Man from C.A.M.P., Lola Dances and Deadly Nightshade

Double Your Pleasure
This is like the steak specials at my local market: buy one, get one free. When you buy this book, 100% of the proceeds go to the Lambda Legal fund, to help in their fight against California's Proposition 8. That's a good thing in itself, as I'm sure you will agree. But, not only are you making a donation to a cause we all care deeply about, you also get—this is the FREE part—a collection of 20 stories from an elite list of M/M and LGBT writers. How can you beat a deal like that?

And what a collection! There's surely something here for every taste: man on man and woman on woman; fantasy and funny and sizzling and sweet. Swans and Snow Queens and salty sailors and slithering serpents, oh my! And Holy Macaroni, but you're going to have to buy the book to figure that out. French Legionnaires do it in the mud; little girls grow up married from childhood, and first timers discover the magic. All of the myriad elements of love lost and found and refined and redefined. I could go on and on, too, but every story here is a treasure on its own; together, they make up one of those rare "read-over-and-over-and-keep-forever" books.
I recommend stocking up. Get some steaks while you're at it, you're going to be doing a lot of curling up.

Josh Lanyon
Author of the Adrien English Mystery Series and Man, Oh Man! Writing M/M for Kinks and Ca$h

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: twenty tales — funny, sweet, erotic, poignant — from some of the best and brightest writers in GLBT romance. Never has support for a good cause been more delicious, more delectable than in this generous helping of life — and love — affirming stories.

I Do anthology
Publisher: MLR Press (January 2, 2009); Kindle edition
ISBN: 1934531707

Excerpt from Code of Honour by Marquesate

They got shipped out to Mayotte, an island in the Indian Ocean, which the legion used for jungle training. Joe found himself in a place he'd never hoped to visit, and even the excessive training didn't subdue his spirits. Not the swimming for miles in the crystal clear sea, with their kit heavy on their backs, and neither climbing Mt. Kali Keni, eight hundred meters straight up in full kit, and not back down in constant rain, either.

Yet wherever they were, whatever they did, the sergent was with them. No matter how much Joe tried to ignore his superior, he was there. Getting over a wall? Sergent Roux did it faster and with less effort. Jumping into a pit and back up the other side? No one could beat Sergent Roux. Balancing along poles, climbing ropes, crossing ravines on a tightrope, jumping hurdles... Roux was there, with his grey eyes, his wiry strength, and his measuring gaze.

Eventually, they got sent out for jungle survival training. One week together as a section, then one week alone. Each legionnaire was given a compass, a map, a bottle of water, and sent into the bush to make their own shelter, find their own food, and survive the week, while solving mock missions, such as finding the supposed crash site of a comrade.

When they were separated in the early hours, it had been raining steadily for days. None of the men had a dry shred on them, and the morale would have been even worse, had they not been kept on their toes by the sergent, who sent each of his men off. Joe was the last one.

He had been given the details of the first mission for the following day, checking over the map, when he heard a strange sound: part voice, part roar. The moment he turned, he saw Sergent Roux's raised arm, a last glimpse of the green beret, all rapidly disappearing, sliding, slipping, crashing downwards and gone. The earth had opened in front of him, and the mudslide pulled the man with it, tearing branches on the way, burying the helpless body beneath the brown floods.

"Sergent!" Joe shouted, running after the man. Losing his footing, he slipped forward, towards the drop, managed in the last minute to hold onto thick, leathery leaves, which slowed his fall.

He couldn't see the body any more, a whole pile of dead wood had fallen on top. He slid downwards on his belly, and once he'd reached the bottom, he frantically pulled branches and vegetation out of the way. Finally managing to grab what felt like an arm, he pushed his legs underneath roots for leverage, and pulled with all his strength. Everything was slippery, soaked from rain and covered in mud, and he nearly lost his grip, but with a last bout of effort, Joe pulled the body free and to safety.

He was breathing hard as he knelt beside the sergent, shaking him, but there was no sign of life.

"Sergent!" Clearing the mud off the face, Joe checked the vitals. Pulse, yes, then he tried to clear the airways, but he couldn't get rid of the mud. Reaching for the bottle on his belt kit, Joe didn't think twice, using the precious drinking water to wash the sergent's face. Mud ran in ever-clearer rivulets down the sharply cut face and over the shaved hair. Water gathered on perfectly shaped lips that were relaxed now, not sneering, nor shouting. Joe couldn't look away, mesmerised by the face that was revealed beneath the grime, and he found himself staring at those lips.

He didn't think when he leaned down, nothing held him back or screamed at him to stop. All his hard work to ignore, lie, and pretend had been in vain, when he pressed his lips onto the sergent's. Lingering against the wet warmth, he felt their shape beneath his own, sensed the traces of mud, and he closed his eyes for one brief moment, savouring the kiss; his first kiss.

Joe opened his eyes and pulled back. The shock registered within a heartbeat as he stared down into wide open, grey eyes that looked at him coldly. That was it. He was dead.

"Sergent... Je n'ai..." Joe never finished his frightened stammer. A hand grabbed the back of his neck and he was pulled down, crushed against the lips that parted now. Tongue and teeth clashing, demanding entrance, as the sergent claimed his mouth, and Joe obeyed the order.

Taste, strength, everything different to anything before. He was pulled on top; the sergent held him, then rolled them around, changing positions. Joe groaned into the other man's mouth. Hands were suddenly on him, groping and taking, while Roux thrust down onto Joe's groin. Joe froze, unable to think, act, caught in the fulfilment of a need he'd fought for all of his young life.

Another shove, and the sergent's hard cock ground into his. That very moment Joe let loose, forgot who they were and how forbidden this was. Lust won, conquering every thought. Two bodies, mud drenched, wet, dirty and slippery, moving together and against each other in frantic need. He found total fulfilment in the strength of the sergent's body and the non-negotiable demand. No asking, but taking and willingly giving. Joe struggled and fought, both muscular and strong, he relished each grip and every forceful touch.

Thrusting their hard cocks against the other's, lust built, spiralled out of control, and seconds felt like eternities of insanity and greed.

When Joe came inside his uniform, he wanted to cry out and lose himself in the abandon, but the sergent's mouth captured his own, and a hand at the back of his neck kept him in a vice grip, not allowing any sound to escape. Roux's body bore down onto his own, forcing him to lie still, while the sergent came with nothing but a shudder and a strangled groan.

Joe was trapped by the weight, the hand and the kiss, and for a while, there was nothing but heartbeat and tremors that ran through him in aftershocks. All too suddenly, though, Roux rolled off. Bereft of the heat and the strength, Joe forced himself to move as well, but his mind couldn't catch on to what his body had just experienced. The whole magnitude of what had happened was too much to comprehend.

He sat crouched, still breathless, trying to will his fingers to do something, anything, like wiping mud off his drenched uniform.

"You must learn to lie." The sergent's voice cut into the silence, and the sudden English with its French accent didn't register straight away. It took Joe a second to make out the meaning.

"You speak English?" The moment he'd said it, Joe cursed himself.

"What does it sound like to you?"

"English, Sergent."

"Clever." Roux let out a soft snort. "You'll go far."

That stung, like everything the man was saying, or not saying. Yet all Joe could do was swallow the jibe, like any other. Ranks and discipline were everything in the legion, but he was too curious to let go, despite the potential consequences.

"You are not 'Belgian', Sergent?"

"Wrong and right." Roux stopped wiping himself down, the mud would have to get washed off with the steady rain. He didn't bother to look up when he graced Joe with an explanation. "Canadian. French Canadian." Picking up his beret, Roux put it onto his head after a disdainful glance at the soggy mess. "You are too transparent."

"Pardon, Sergent?"

"Your face. Your eyes. You were obvious."

"I don't understand." The sergent had him outgunned like an RPG against a pistol and Joe was certain he didn't believe the feigned ignorance.

"What were you trying to prove when you joined up?"

Not even the question if he did want to prove anything. Joe swallowed hard. "That I am...a man, Sergent. Not..."

"Men don't stammer."

Bastard. "Not a fag." Pédé, he'd heard it often enough as an everyday insult amongst the legionnaires.

"And you joined the legion for that? Of all places?" Roux's brows rose with thinly disguised amusement. "Have you forgotten to look into your trousers lately? That should have given you enough proof."

Joe felt anger rising, why the hell hadn't he just let that arsehole drown in the mud? Would have saved his water, too.

And why the hell had he given into that stupid, dangerous impulse to kiss that man?

"I wanted to be someone."

"Someone who was tough and an elite soldier, or someone who wasn't a fag?"

Both, was the first thing that came to Joe's mind, but he bit his lip. No, wrong. Not both. He didn't want to be a fag. "An elite soldier, Sergent."

From the minuscule flash in the remarkable eyes, Joe knew that the sergent had caught his lie, but Roux merely nodded curtly.

"You will receive a new mission tomorrow from the caporalchef, and I suggest you be more careful with your precious water." The sergent switched back to French. "Cinq jours de plus."

Five days. The whole survival exercise with hardly any water.

"Oui, Sergent!"

Roux turned and Joe made the mistake of opening his mouth before engaging his brain. "Sergent!"

"Oui?" Roux looked at him. Impassive, the same cool, mocking gaze as always, and Joe felt that look twist his guts.

"Rien, Sergent!" Nothing. Nothing at all. "Désolé, Sergent."

"T'as fini, Evans?"

"Oui, Sergent." Of course it was all, what else could he possibly want?

The next moment Roux was gone, vanished with a few steps into the thick vegetation.

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