Monday, September 24, 2012

The Carpenter (Workplace Encounters #4) excerpt by Serena Yates

In The Carpenter by Serena Yates, the lead character Tom is a carpenter in desperate need of a few big projects to save his company -- could Matt Langford and the dilapidated mansion he inherited be just what he needs?

Tom Halderson is a carpenter who inherited his father’s construction company. Despite the fact running a business is not one of his strengths, and having made his foreman a full partner, he is in trouble. His older brother, Derek, who vanished five years ago has returned and wants what he thinks is his part of the inheritance. Tom refuses to give in, but lets him live in their father’s house. When Derek fails at the job Tom gives him, he turns vengeful and makes life even more difficult for Tom.

Matt Langford is a safari guide who inherited his grandfather’s house when his mother committed suicide, not wanting to face her husband’s infidelities any longer. Matt plans to have the dilapidated house renovated so he can sell it, and move back to his adventurous life in Africa. The immediate attraction he feels for Tom completely derails him.

Could the stability-loving Tom be just what Matt needs to settle down? Could the adventurous Matt be exactly what is lacking in Tom’s life?

The Carpenter
Silver Publishing (July 2, 2011)
ISBN: 9781920501334


Chapter One

"Thank God it's Friday." Tom Halderson rose slowly, stretching muscles cramped from stooping over his portable workbench for too long. The bracket feet for the black ash DVD cabinet he'd just finished carving were the final bits needed before assembling the elaborate piece of furniture. Why the client insisted on having everything handmade was beyond him, but he was glad for the work.

"Amen!" Chris Allen, a painter he'd worked with before, dropped the brush he'd been using onto the newspaper spread out at his feet and stood back from the living room wall. After one last appraising glance he turned toward Tom. "I can't wait to hit the bar and down a cold beer."

"Same here." Tom grinned. A beer at the end of the work week was one of the few luxuries he allowed himself. Staying in business and making a large enough profit to cover a minimal salary was getting tougher by the month. But he owed it to his dad to keep the company running. It had been his father's only focus after his mother died giving birth to him. Even though he'd never wanted to go into business he'd had little choice when his dad fell from a high-rise building three years ago. He'd been dead on impact and Halderson Construction had suddenly become Tom's responsibility.

"The Thirsty Bear okay?" Chris picked up the cloth with the used brushes, wrapping them carefully before walking into the nearly finished kitchen to clean them.

"Sure." He didn't much mind where they went. Downtown Colorado Springs offered a lot of choices and the beer was equally cold wherever they'd end up.

"I'll see you there at seven." Chris put the cleaned brushes into a large glass, upside down so they could dry. He disposed of the dirty newspaper in one of the large bin bags they kept around for waste of all kinds.

"Okay." Tom was only half paying attention to Chris leaving.

He cast a critical eye over the parts, now strewn across the floor, waiting to be put together. They looked good, and he was tempted to finish the job, but he really wanted a shower and a change of clothes before making his way to the bar. He sighed. Assembly would have to wait until Monday.

He put away his tools, neatly arranging the gouges, veins and chisels into their individual pockets within the soft cloth. Wrapping them and depositing them into his tool box was a good way to step back from the job and start relaxing. When he was done, he grabbed the box, toured the house to make sure everyone was gone and all windows and doors were properly locked. Finding everything in order was a relief, and he quickly got into his car and drove home to the small house in Cimarron Hills his father had also left him.

Sometimes he wished there'd be someone else who cared as much about the company as his dad had. Especially after a week like this, with plans changing, clients calling him all the time, and last minute emergencies needing to be dealt with. At least he'd gotten to work on the cabinets. That was all he'd ever wanted, to work with wood. It was his passion, and if he'd had a choice, he would have been a woodworker. Instead, his father had made him follow the three-year union-contactor apprenticeship program so he could be a carpenter. Now, he only ever managed to assign himself the odd carpentry job. Most of his time was taken up with running the company together with his partner, Ken.

It wasn't fair. He sighed as he pulled up to his driveway. Then his eyes widened. A man lounged near his front door, clearly waiting for him. Tom didn't expect anyone, so he parked the car, got out and carefully approached, keeping a close eye on the stranger. Except, the closer he got, the more familiar the guy looked.

No, it wasn't possible!

"Derek?" He hadn't seen his older brother in over five years.

"Tom." Derek nodded, not looking happy.

"What… how…?" He didn't even know where to start. Wanting to hug his brother, now the only immediate family he had left, was his first impulse. But there was so much distance and rejection in Derek's body language, he didn't dare touch him.

"You didn't think I'd come back, did you?" Derek sneered. "Thought I wouldn't find out Dad left everything to you. I bet you wanted to keep it all to yourself. Well, think again. I did find out, even if it took my friends some time to get around to telling me, and I'm here now, so you better pay up."

What the hell?

"Aren't you even going to ask me in?" His brother frowned. "You're not going to be difficult about this, are you?"

"What's wrong with you?" His heart was beating a mile a minute and his hands were trembling. But he managed to open the door and got inside, Derek following on his heels.

"Nothing's wrong with me, there never was." His brother stormed through the hallway and straight into the living room, looking around as if searching for something. Or maybe he wanted to make sure everything was still in its place?

"Look, you were the one telling us you didn't want us to come after you." He wanted to be excited and happy, but there was something really wrong about Derek's words. He sounded demanding and bitter, as if he'd been the one wronged. Hell, the man had left without a trace after their father had told him not to marry Simone because she wasn't good enough for him.

"Well, I've changed my mind, okay?" Derek flopped down on the sofa, managing to look as if he owned it. "I'm Dad's son just as much as you, so I figure I'm entitled to some of the wealth now that he's dead. I'm here to collect."

Tom wanted to yell at his brother for being so materialistic. He didn't even care about the money so much, he just wanted his brother back. But this stranger sitting on his sofa and demanding money that wasn't his, the will had clearly said so, scared him. What had happened to the big brother he'd adored?

"I hate to tell you this, but there are no huge amounts of money." There never had been. "Dad left the house and the company to me, true, but that's it."

"And that's a whole lot more than that bitch Simone left me with after the divorce she put me through." Derek fisted his hands. "And I bet Dad would have left the company to both of us, had I been around."

"Maybe." He couldn't help but feel overwhelmed and disappointed. Why weren't they celebrating their reunion? This should have been a happy moment. Instead they were talking about money? He couldn't quite bring himself to say that, though, for fear of driving his brother away again. He'd only just gotten him back and was going to do everything in his power to keep him here. With a tough divorce behind him from the sounds of it, Derek wasn't himself right now. He'd come around, wouldn't he?

* * * *

"Hello! Anybody home?" Tom knocked on the front door of the small rental log cabin in Cascade for the second time. Why was there no answer? He checked his watch. Yep, just after five like they'd agreed over the phone. The sleek black Ferrari in the carport surely meant someone was home.

He shook his head. Who would bring a luxury car up here? Maybe his potential client wasn't aware of what the approaching Colorado winter might do to the roads. Matt Langford had told him he was originally from Georgia, but he'd spent the last ten years organizing safaris in Africa. The man probably had no experience with cold weather and ice on the roads. A reliable truck was what he'd need once the snow started falling.

But that wasn't really his problem, was it? As long as the guy was ready to spend the money on renovating his recently inherited house a few blocks farther toward the edge of town everything would be fine. It was a nice building from what he'd seen, but it would need a lot of work to become livable again. Tom clutched his messenger bag containing the sketches more tightly. He desperately needed this project to keep the company going.

The last six months since Derek's return had been hell. Nothing he did seemed good enough for his brother. He'd tried so hard to help him get settled. Without saying a word, he'd moved into a small apartment, leaving the house to Derek. He'd refused to give his brother a say in the company, because that was his livelihood and he'd thought the house would've been enough to appease the man. His brother had been adamant he get something, so Tom had finally relented and given Derek a job in the office. The idiot had messed up so completely they'd lost several existing, and potential, clients.

Tom sighed. Having to fire Derek had been hard, but he couldn't let his brother ruin the business. He'd given Derek the required severance payment and had asked him to sign an affidavit swearing he wouldn't sue Halderson Construction. Derek's reaction had been totally over the top. He'd threatened that he'd make Tom pay for betraying him.

That had been a month ago and Derek had cashed the check, but there was no sign of the signed affidavit. Tom knew he should hire an attorney to set the situation straight, at least getting the affidavit completed, but he just couldn't get himself to do it. This was his brother, after all. The first nasty rumors about Halderson Construction had started two weeks after Derek left, and Tom had decided he was going to focus on his work and ensuring he did the best possible job. Surely the facts would be more important than unfounded speculation?

So, here he stood, determined to convince Mr. Langford Halderson Construction was just the company to be put in charge of the renovation of the man's dilapidated house. He would win them over one by one, if necessary.

Where was the guy? Tom knocked again, a little louder this time.

"What?" The door opened and a tall guy with dark, tousled hair and dark blue eyes squinted at him.

The man was only about two inches shorter than his own six-foot-two, very well built and wore nothing but dark blue pajama bottoms. Not that he was looking, because, geez, he was built everywhere.

"Uhm… we had an appointment?" Tom tried not to grin at the guy's confused expression.

"Now?" The man looked up at the sky and frowned. "Oh, looks like it's already late afternoon. Sorry. I was taking a nap. Um. You must be Tom Halderson."

"Yes, I am. You're Matt Langford?" He had a hard time not letting his eyes wander away from Mr. Langford's face. The dark whorls of chest hair on his well developed pecs were very sexy.

"Indeed I am." Mr. Langford slid a long-fingered hand through his hair in an unsuccessful attempt to smooth it down.

"Do you want me to come back later?" He hoped not. The number of unpaid bills was increasing daily and he needed a big project on the books to make the creditors back off for a while. But the client was always right, so he would reschedule their meeting if that was what the guy wanted.

"No. No, it's all right." Mr. Langford stepped back and pointed at the inside of the cabin. "It's my fault. The drive up here took longer than I thought and apparently I slept away most of the afternoon. If you give me a minute, I'll get dressed and we can have our meeting. Please, come in and take a seat."

"Okay." Tom stepped inside and looked around while he was waiting.

In keeping with the outside look, the interior walls consisted of simple wooden logs. There was a large overstuffed couch to his right, facing a rock gas fireplace and a little TV in the corner. To his left was a door into a small kitchen and another straight ahead to what looked like a patio. Colorful rugs on the hardwood floor made the cabin feel cozy. At the back of the room was a staircase which presumably led to the bedroom upstairs which the delectable Matt had vanished into.

Stop thinking about him that way. He's a potential client, for heaven's sake! Hadn't he promised himself to stay away from anything that even remotely looked like he might get emotionally entangled? One catastrophic relationship was enough for his lifetime. Anything more than an anonymous encounter was dangerous. He knew better, so why was he lusting after this man?

Tom sat down on the comfortable sofa and tried to relax. A few minutes later Mr. Langford returned, now dressed in simple blue jeans and a light grey sweater which accentuated the blue of his eyes. His feet were encased in thick woolen socks and his hair still deliciously tousled. He looked good enough to eat.

An offer of a cup of coffee was made and accepted. His host soon returned from the kitchen with two steaming mugs and placed them on the low table between them and the fire place.

"So, tell me a little more about Halderson Construction." Mr. Langford sat down on the other end of the sofa and turned toward him. "I've checked your website and have made a few calls but there doesn't seem to be an awful lot of information about any current projects you may be working on."

"That's probably because the company has recently gone through some difficulties." Tom wasn't sure how much to reveal to his potential client but he wasn't going to lie. The man had probably already heard all of the lies Derek had been spreading, so he might as well give him his side of the story. "It won't impact your project and has nothing to do with our qualifications as a choice for a historically accurate restoration."

"My impression was you had some financial problems?" Mr. Langford raised his eyebrows. "I'd say that might have an impact on any deal to which we might agree."

"You're right, some of the problems are financial. Look, I'll be honest with you. There have been some disagreements with my recently returned brother. We've had some—major—fights. He told me he was going to get his revenge, and apparently he's been spreading rumors about the company, trying to scare people away. You may have heard some of them already." Tom took a deep breath. "I know you don't have to believe me, but if you check the older records, the ones over six months ago, you'll see we were doing fine and there hasn't been a specific incident which caused the current issues. Of course, we aren't exactly cash rich right now, but we are sound enough to keep running the business."

"I appreciate your honesty. It sounds like this project is quite important to you." Mr. Langford smiled. "I don't mind, on the contrary, it reassures me."

Tom snorted. Did that sound like his newest potential client wanted him to depend on this project—wanted to have some control over him? Just like the asshole who'd been his lover? Not to mention the control freak Derek had turned into? Or was he being too sensitive here? And anyway—this was a business relationship, wasn't it? So that made it different. It was his family life he needed to worry about.

"Now we have the financial discussion out of the way and until we start negotiating a price, can you tell me a little bit more about your qualifications in the area of historical restorations?" Mr. Langford took a sip of coffee and tilted his head.

"Over the past three years Halderson Construction has remodeled four early twentieth century buildings in and around Colorado Springs. You probably won't be familiar with any of them, but two were mentioned in the Old House Journal as particularly well done. You could also check with the local historical society which has developed case studies for each of the four properties." Tom was particularly proud of those because they were far more relevant for the local community and a really nice showcase for his work.

"Sounds like you really know your stuff." Mr. Langford looked thoughtful. "I want to check out some of those references later. I'll need this renovation to be done quickly and within budget. I want to sell the house as quickly as possible so I can get back to somewhere with decent temperatures, and I need it to make a profit so I have a nest egg for when I want to settle down somewhere nice and tropical. From what you've just told me, it sounds like Halderson Construction might be the right company to get the property ready for me to do just that."

"May I ask why you haven't come to an agreement with any of the other local construction companies?" Tom didn't think any of them was more qualified but he was interested to find out the man's reasoning.

"Aha, you're not afraid to ask difficult questions. Very good." Mr. Langford grinned. It made the man look even better, younger and less serious. "Without revealing any details let me just say several of them were too small to handle the work, and two of the larger ones didn't strike me as particularly trustworthy."

"Thanks for telling me. It's always good to know what the competition is up to." Tom grinned back. "I'm obviously familiar with the house and have taken the liberty of obtaining blueprints from the council registrar to come up with some initial drawings and draft ideas."

"Very impressive, Tom. May I call you Tom?" Mr. Langford put down his empty coffee mug and stared right at him.

He nodded, mesmerized by the penetrating dark blue gaze. If he didn't watch it, he could so easily get distracted by this man.

"Okay, then you must call me Matt." Matt sat back in his chair. "So, tell me what you've come up with?"

Tom pulled his sketches from the messenger bag and laid them out on the table after moving the empty mugs to the floor. They went over the simple drawings one by one. Matt turned out to have a good eye for detail and asked some pointed questions.

When they'd gone through the material, he sat back up and stretched. He was a lot stiffer than expected and when he looked outside it was dark. His eyes widened. He hadn't even noticed the time passing.

"I'm impressed." Matt stretched as well, offering a tempting view of muscles moving nicely under the soft fabric of his sweatshirt. "You've obviously done your homework. I'm ready to move to the next stage, if you agree."

"Thank you." Tom actually blushed. "In that case I suggest we meet at the property tomorrow during daylight hours and go over the details."

"I agree. We should meet around ten in the morning so we have enough time to go over everything we need." Matt sat forward in his chair, a definite gleam in his eyes. "Now we've concluded the business part of our meeting, can I interest you in dinner? I don't know about you but I am quite hungry and would love some company."

"I—dinner?" He swallowed. That sounded suspiciously like a date and he hadn't even thought about dating since he'd taken over the company. There were too many homophobic people in Colorado Springs, ready to ruin his reputation at the drop of a hat. Anyway, he'd been too busy working.

"Yes, you know, the meal at the end of the day?" Matt grinned, obviously enjoying his discomfort.

"Oh, that dinner." He felt embarrassed but was determined not to let the other man see how confused he was. "Are you sure?"

"I wouldn't have asked if I wasn't sure." Matt snorted and shook his head. "Look, if you'd rather not, just say no. I just wanted to talk some more about the project."

"Sure." Tom felt rejected. He shook his head. Of course the man wanted to discuss business, what did he expect? Why was he even thinking about a relationship? He may have missed having a family, but that was no reason to throw himself at a complete stranger. One who was only planning to be here for a few months at most, from the sound of it.

"Excellent! I hope you don't mind leftovers. I promise they're good." Matt got up, gathered the empty mugs and walked toward the kitchen. "I always make casseroles in large portions because I think they taste better. They keep me supplied with a couple more good meals anyway."

"You cook?" Tom cringed at the stupidity of his question. Why shouldn't the man cook? Not everyone was a prick like his ex-lover Preston who liked to be waited on hand and foot.

"Yeah, anything wrong with that?" Matt placed the mugs in the sink and turned around, a big grin on his face.

"Nope, nothing wrong with that at all." He felt his lips twitch but managed to suppress his own grin. "In fact, I'm a bit of a hobby chef myself."

"You are?" Matt opened the fridge and pulled the medium-size glass casserole dish out before putting it in the microwave. "Do you have a specialty?"

"I'm all right for meals. But my real favorite is baking bread and cakes." Tom missed the relaxed Sunday mornings over home-made rolls or bagels he'd shared with Preston when their relationship had been good. Not having someone to enjoy the food with just wasn't the same.

"Sounds promising. I tend to be better at starters and main meals." Matt started pulling plates, glasses, and cutlery from the cupboards. Placemats were added and the small table in the corner of the kitchen was set by the time the microwave's 'ping' signaled their food being done.

"I can see some interesting joint projects coming up." Tom sat down on one of the chairs while Matt distributed a potato chicken dish onto the two plates.

"What would you like to drink?" Matt put the used casserole dish into the sink and opened the fridge. "There's water, milk, and orange juice. Sorry, I seem to be out of beer."

"Not a problem about the beer, I still need to drive." Tom never had any alcohol if there was a choice. Not after his dad's fatal accident three years ago. "I'd love some orange juice, please."

They enjoyed their meal in quiet companionship and he was surprised how easy he felt in Matt's company. It was as if they'd known each other for much longer than a few hours.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Stained Glass excerpt by Jaime Samms


In Jaime Samms" Stained Glass, the violent implosion of Lawrence McKenna’s last relationship left him floundering at the bottom of a bottle. Recently unemployed and struggling with his newly discovered submissive tendencies, Laurie needs his best friend, Jeff, more than ever. One sleepless night of detox and a desperate kiss convince him that the attraction they’ve battled all their lives has become too hard to ignore, but Jeff has other responsibilities that take him far away from Laurie and his self-destructive behavior.

When Jeff leaves, all Laurie wants is to be left alone to wallow. Instead, he finds himself riding herd on his friends who have quit their jobs to achieve their dream of starting their own manga publisher. Those same friends return the favor by riding him: about the booze, talking about what happened, seeing a doctor—and about Jeff, whose abandonment left Laurie bitter and resentful. Laurie knows they can’t have a relationship without forgiveness, but when Jeff returns, can he be what Laurie needs?

Stained Glass

Dreamspinner Press (Aug 27, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-61372-724-9 (ebook)
978-1-61372-723-2 (paperback)


I went out and found an old, old haunt where Nash and I had gone a hundred times. Most of the regulars I remembered had moved on, and the new crop of boys could easily have been a decade younger than me.

The dancing was fierce and the heat and sweat and motion intense enough that after a few shots, it didn’t matter that I was there by myself.

It was easier than I would have thought to find dance partners. Harder to narrow it down to one, but I managed. There was something vaguely familiar about him. He had darker yes than Jeff, and longer hair. He was nearly as short as me, younger by a good few years, but one hell of a lot stronger, and his hips didn’t move in proper relation to the rest of him. Most important, he could keep up with me on the dance floor, and not many could.

I knew I’d chosen well when he flagged down a waiter and ordered us tequila shots without ever taking his possessive hand off my waist. When the shots came, we downed them, and he licked the salt off my hand and refused to let me touch the lemon with anything but my mouth.

By that time, it didn’t matter. Screw the lemon. I plucked it from his lips with my teeth and spat it out in favor of the taste of it on the tongue he thrust into my mouth.

“The only real way to do tequila shots!” he shouted over the music when we parted.

I flagged the waiter down for another. The chase for the lemon was a tease this time. He sucked it dry and waggled his tongue at me. When I reached for it, he pounced, slamming my back to the wall at the edge of the floor and lifting my hands to pin them over my head. His tongue reached deep, his hips ground hard, and I dissolved.

“God, you’re fucking killin’ me, man!” His voice was a fierce growl in my ear, and it sent shivers of need skittering over my skin. I bucked against him, letting him feel my own erection, lifting my gaze when he pulled back to look at me.

His eyes darkened and his smile sharpened. His grip on my wrists tightened, crushing the bones against the wall above me. The pain turned the goose bumps to flames licking along my nerve endings. My cheeks flared hot. I grinned back at him. Just the encouragement he needed to subdue me with his weight. The force he used was burning a fire through me, and if he didn’t follow up soon, there was a good chance I was going to melt down right there in the middle of the bar.

His lip curled in a hard, eager grin, and he took my mouth again, demanding every ounce of my attention with what his tongue was doing. He let go of my hands eventually, but only so he could wrap both arms around my waist and haul me out to the middle of the floor.

Other dancers parted to let us through. Distantly, I heard the hoots and catcalls directed at us, but they only made me want it more. Knowing he had put me on display like that boiled my blood. It should have cooled the fire but only seemed to fan the flames. I couldn’t get close enough to him, couldn’t feel enough of his hard young body pressed to mine.

I got lost in that kiss. I didn’t even notice the music change or that he was waltzing me off the floor until my back jammed into a post on the far edge of the hardwood. His fingers stole into my hair, his other hand lacing through mine as he plundered my mouth, and I let him.

God, it felt so good to have that strength surrounding me. Not to have to think. Not to have to do anything but give him what he wanted.

“You were Nash’s,” he whispered into my ear.

I froze and tipped my head back, the flash of memory placing his face squarely in my own living room. “You’re him.”

He grinned and nodded and leaned his head close to mine so he could speak into my ear. “And I’ve seen your list.”

“Oh, God.” The words were past my lips and breathed all over him before I could stop them.

“Say no now,” he told me, staring into my eyes. He hadn’t released his grip or any of the pressure holding my back to the hard metal post, but there was that look in his eye—the confidence I wouldn’t turn him down and the honesty that told me he’d let me go if I did.

I tipped my head back until it rested on the post, and closed my eyes, showing him my throat.
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Monday, September 10, 2012

Chaser excerpt by Rick R Reed

Rick R Reed’s Chaser, a love story about a thin gay man who is attracted to men who have "a little meat on their bones", is one of his most unusual--and, he hopes, fulfilling--love stories.

Rick wrote Chaser because he wanted to have a non-conventional romantic hero and make him the love interest. He wanted a “real world” man, not some fantasy ideal of perfection. We don’t see too many gay romances with heavier men as the object of affection and desire and Chaser explores that attraction (which in gay parlance is referred to as “chubby chasing”—not flattering, but there you have it). It also explores, on a deeper level, what happens when a person you love’s appearance changes.

There’s plenty of drama aboard and a very sweet and satisfying resolution. Hope you’ll give Chaser a…taste.


Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare, even if he does make an ass of himself. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond with a dick that’s just right. (They met in the bathroom—of course he looked!) But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance.

When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the el train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin's place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about.

But the course of true love never did run smooth, and Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits his shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for. This isn’t the same Kevin he fell in love with… is it?

Dreamspinner Press (August 23, 2012)
ISBN: 978-1-61372-585-6


And here's an exclusive excerpt, where our hero meets the one-night stand from Hell:

Caden opened his eyes to see Matt crouched on the floor beneath what appeared to be a 42-inch plasma screen TV, loading up the blu-ray player beneath it. The TV was the only thing that looked new—and clean—in the entire apartment. Caden guessed Matt was putting in some mood-setting porn, and although the prospect was tawdry and sleazy, he was all for anything that would accelerate the inevitable.

He longed for the comfort of his own, clean, sheets.

He undid the top button of his jeans and lowered his zipper to about half-mast. He was pleased to feel he was actually getting a little aroused at the thought of new porn and the prospect of Matt’s drunken lips on his cock.

Matt joined him back on the futon, his shoulders touching Caden’s. Casually, Caden let his left hand slide onto Matt’s thigh and let it rest there while Matt aimed a remote at the opposite wall.

Imagine Caden’s surprise when what came up on the screen was not the latest offering from Hot Desert Knights, Catalina, or Treasure Island Media, but that 1980’s Christmas classic Scrooged, starring Mr. Bill Murray. While Caden had seen the movie and certainly found it an amusing take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, it just seemed, well, weird, that a trick would put it on now. For one thing, it was October, so the movie was clearly inappropriate.

For another, who the hell put on a Christmas comedy to heat things up with a trick?

Am I really here? Is this really happening? Caden wondered as he watched the opening images of the film, before glancing down at his own hand, lying hotly on Matt’s blue-jeaned thigh.

It was then he heard the snore. He looked up to see Matt’s handsome face in repose, mouth open and drooling, head lolling on the back edge of the futon.

Really? You’ve fallen asleep on me? Seriously? This is what I trekked over here for? Scrooged and a sleeping alcoholic? This is what my life has become?

Caden leaned forward, “Dude, wake up. Don’t you wanna play? I thought we were gonna get into some nasty sex.” He squeezed the ample bulge between Matt’s thighs to no result, other than Matt slumping over dramatically onto the pillows at one end of the couch. The beer bottle Matt had heretofore clutched expertly in his drunken paw, dropped to the carpeted floor with a thud, spraying foam on the already stained carpet.

Caden refastened his belt and rezipped his pants. Getting lucky tonight was looking more and more out of the question.

Ya think?

He got up from the futon, crossed the room and pulled a wad of paper towels from the rack suspended over the sink, trying to ignore the cockroach skittering madly among the dirty dishes piled there. “Fella, you’re about the only one showing a little life in this hovel. Good for you!”

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Monday, September 3, 2012

My Father's Semen excerpt by Mykola Dementiuk

As an added bonus, Cruising For Bad Boys, edited by Mickey Erlach, features the bonus novella, My Father's Semen  by Mykola Dementiuk, the disturbing story of a young man who seeks out his biological father only to be forced to survive the one way he knows how. This story will open your eyes to life on the streets of New York in the 1980s and will surprise you in the end.

Cruising For Bad Boys
STARbook Press (June, 2009)


Just as Joey had told me, 42nd street was lined with movie theaters on both sides, but each theater was boarded up and shut, and the marques, rather then showing off some future attractions, had strange markings and readings which seemed like ominous end-of-the-world-is-coming: Life in not a rehearsal…This is not the end... I walked on, not knowing what any of them meant.

Joey had told me he had survived in all-night porno theaters, where he said he made money letting guys do him. The bad thing was when he made what he thought was enough some black guys ripped him off in the bathrooms or lobby or even right in the seats. 42nd street was very dangerous, even though it looked pretty tame now. The street looked like one of those Hollywood stage sets, when the actors and directors all went home for the night, leaving the people to hurry after them.

I kept walking across 42nd, not knowing which was to turn on 7th avenue, up or down, so I crossed over and quickly found myself on Broadway, where a few steps down, I read the strange sounding Hotalings, an out-of-town newspaper store. Unfortunately, they wanted a $1.25 for a Cincinnati paper, kept behind the counter.

Try the library, the store clerk suggested. Then shrugged and added, They’re probably closed for Christmas.

Still, I asked, where is it?

Look for lions in the street… he smirked, but I didn’t understand.

I continued on 42nd street until I came to 5th avenue. Of course, the lions that guarded the building were another symbol of New York, as much as were the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. They always showed them in some movie of TV show, either with birds sitting on them or Christmas wreaths around their necks, which is just what they were wearing now and sitting like sentinels to keep the ignorant and stupid out. That’s the kind of library I’d be proud of entering, not that prison-looking piece of shit in Cincinnati that practically had no books published before 1985, as if literature began with Tom Clancy, reached its shining hour with Stephen King, and was slowly mellowing out with Anne Rice. Oh, God!

It was Susan who got me to admit I liked poetry, and brought me two paperback books by Allen Ginsburg Howl and Kaddish. Man, were they weird! But I loved them, reading each one and hoping she had other book let me read. Before that I liked songs by Led Zeppelin, Metallica, even Meatloaf, but since I couldn’t play any instrument except air guitar I couldn’t really compose much music and quickly forgot what gibberish I did compose.

I had a NYC map, actually a NY Subway map I had ripped out of a NYC phone book in the Cincinnati library, in my knapsack but I didn’t care about the rest of the city, the boroughs, but only Manhattan because it was easily laid out in a grid and most of the avenues and streets were numbered in sequence and it would be impossible to get lost as uptown meant high numbers and downtown meant the low-numbered streets. Easy, no? Well, it wasn’t really all that simple, but I felt good about where I was going, downtown, as if I’d been there lots of times.

It’s funny to walk in a strange city and feel that you fit right in, well, I didn’t feel different I felt I belonged there. Looking at the Empire State Building was beautiful and immense! It surged up to the sky its top lit by red and white lights for Christmas that even shone over the clouds and mist fogging atop the high building. As I kept walking I kept turning around to look at the tower above me, like a beacon landmark that even is I got lost would be my direction back home.


A few blocks away from the college buildings I saw a man struggling with the heavy locks of a metal gate he was trying to open.

Mother fucker! he mumbled, then reached for a bottle and downed a drink. Two gift-wrapped bottles were under each arm and he went back to forcing the locks to open. Must have been frozen with the cold outside, I thought. I again looked at the man, a red and white fake fur Santa Claus hat roosted on his head. I smirked.

Same shit all the time! he said, and took a step back and kicked the lock and gate. Goddamed piece of shit!

It didn’t do much good, and once more he started fumbling with the locks.

Fucking piece of shit!

He suddenly saw me and turned. His eyes were glassy wet and his face was unshaven and haggard, but the stench of alcohol hung heavily in the air around him.

Hey, he mumbled. Can you give me a hand, buddy? Hold this... And he conspiratorially winked but warned, No sneaking a drink, ok?

I slung my backpack on one shoulder and took the two boxes of liquor, the open box seemingly a lot lighter than the closed one; it was obvious he had been nipping from it and soon would begin on the closed one just as well.

Piece of shit! he repeated to the stubborn iced-over locks. I shouldn’t even go in. Serve ‘em fucking right if I didn’t clean their fucking pig-sty! Let ‘em come in and find it like they left it. What am I a fucking animal, cleaning up their dirt?

He suddenly succeeded in freeing one lock, shoved it in his coat pocket, and just as easily freed another one. He winked at me and his face had that familiar look I knew so well, his eyes going down my pants, and I wondered if my lips looked as wet and rapid as did his?

Go on, he winked. Take a drink if you want; my other jobs left me presents, not like this cheap piece of shit company.

He uplifted the barrier and started freeing the doors and I reached in one of the liquor boxes and lifted out the bottle. Only a quarter or so of the gin left, and he winked at me, took the bottle and drowned it. Yes, I wondered, why was gin always the preferred drink of those trying to make me? Is there a particular drink for every perversion? If faggots have gin, do whores drink bourbon? One time in Cincinnati a guy dressed me up as girl and made me sip blackberry brandy while he just had a beer. And what does the S & M crowd drink, vodka? What about the guy that killed a little girl in Cincinnati? What does he drink, probably Shirley Temple’s? Oh, what the hell do I know? And without a care he just tossed the empty bottle in the street outside, rolled down the gate behind us, and we were in.

He let out a deep sigh of relief and reached for the bottle I was holding, ripped it open and this time just took a sip and tiredly sat down in a row of seats. He looked at me glassy eyed, as if trying hard to remember who I was, then his cheeks puffed out and he belched. “Bouah! Bouah!” Again his eyes drooped but I was glad to be in a warm place, if only for a short time.

I looked around. It was dark -- just a Coca Cola sign shone brightly on one wall -- and after his little gagging I didn’t expect any real movement from him. But what did I think was going to happen? Well, maybe because the way he looked at me I felt I should play this out to the end. But that’s always been my problem, thinking that the look of sexual desire and lust in the eyes of strangers could be more than just a look of sex, but also a longing for love. Sometimes I’ve always felt I should never disappoint someone hungry for me, as if their hunger for sex should be appeased and rewarded by my giving of myself to them…and how easily I have given myself to others. But what sexual satisfaction or sharing would I get from the drunken Santa whose need for a bed was to sleep it off and not screw me in?

Santa let out a few more retches but they were mostly dry heaves. I moved to another table. My feet were wet, my shoulders also were wet, and the hood of my jacket was sodden and did nothing to keep the snow off my head. Santa slowly got up and shuffled behind the counter. Then he stopped, staring at me as if unable to recall who I was or what I was doing there, but the sight of his liquor bottle brought back some kind of recollection as he sheepishly grinned, wiped his mouth, and said, Shit, I shouldn’t have drunk it so fast…

I grinned and snorted, but said nothing, as he looked at me.

But I was glad to be in the store where it was incredibly warm; and the fragrant smell of pizza dough, cheese and sauce hung aromatically in the air like a welcome treat from the bitter slush and cold outside. I took off my wet jacket and set it on a stool backrest, thinking, maybe I could stay here? Maybe he’d give me a job in the shop?

Is this your store? I asked.

Santa didn’t look at me but rubbed his face and sat back down next to his bottle of booze, and started fumbling the package trying to rip it open. He did, and brought the bottle out. Suddenly I changed my mind about being here, the smell of alcohol and vomit was quickly over-powering the sweet smell of sauces and pizza dough.

Again I asked him if the store was his.

Wha…? he slurred, looking at me. What…?

I sighed; I was familiar with this time-lag, the almost slow-motion response of drunks, being told lots of times to jerk someone off when I just did, and them not understanding why it was taking them so long to ejaculate. Drunks don’t know that their sexual strength goes with each drink they have…

Are you the pizza guy? I asked.

He contemptuously snorted and lifted the bottle. It was a brown colored liquor and I knew if he started mixing it atop the clear gin there’d be real trouble.

Neah, he said, I just come in every morning and clean the place up.

He held the bottle and looked at it, then pushed himself up from the stool and went behind the counter and retrieved a bottle of beer from the store refrigerator. He cracked the top off and took a deep swallow, letting out a sigh of satisfaction. I don’t know how people can drink beer after drinking gin and setting off to drink whickey. He took another swallow, then reached into the refrigerator and pulled out another bottle of beer, then returned to the table and held out the beer bottle to me. I opened it and took a small swallow. I never liked the taste of beer, and since I was tired and hungry, the taste repulsed me even more.

What happened to the side of your face? he asked, slowly sipping his beer.

I looked more closely at a wall mirror and saw the left side of my face was huge, puffed up and bruised looking, where the mugger had stuck me.

I got mugged, I simply said, but I noticed he wasn’t paying me any attention, nodding out…again until he jerked up again.


Good beer, I simply said, raising the bottle and pretending to move it into my mouth.

He did the same, took a sip, then set the bottle down on the table and sleepily looked at me. This was it, I knew it; the whole point of me being here with him. He moved so his legs were open and smiled. There was no choice. I got down to my knees and smiled back at him. Slowly, I tried pulling his pants down under his ass and down his thighs. The rancid stench of dried urine on his underwear surged into my nostrils and I hoped I could get away with giving him a hand-job and didn’t have to take his smelly cock in my mouth.

I sighed, but kept smiling, and lifted the limp penis and gently began stroking it back and forth, doubtful I could raise his drunken cock to erection. Then I heard the snore and looked up. His arms were crossed over his chest, his pants were down his legs, the Santa hat rakishly roosting on his head and he was asleep.

I held onto the cock, gently pulsed it in my hand, because if I let it go and made a movement he’d instantly stir awake. Being as drunk and plastered as he was there’d be no trouble in keeping him that way; as long as I kept quiet.

I examined the cock I was holding. Limp, but just as cock-looking as any I’ve seen. What was the fascination some people had for detailed examination of a cock, or a cunt? I didn’t understand those incredible close-ups of a wet cunt or scummy cock in porno videos and magazines; bodies aroused me, not detached orifices or severed photos of something entering them. Entire-body photos turned me on, especially photos of women with men, as I’ve always imagined myself to be the woman under the man, but whenever I looked at pages after page of cocks and cunts I grew quickly disappointed.

I gently let go of the limp dick, settling it to fall down to the loose droopy balls between Santa’s open legs. I had been gently holding the soft penis for almost ten minutes and I was certain Santa was in a deep sleep, probably dreaming of erections and liquor bottles and spotless pizza shops. This one certainly wouldn’t be cleaned up, I smirked.

I reached into Santa’s coat pocket in a side chair and gently pulled out his ring of keys, careful not to jiggle too much. It took almost five minutes inserting the various keys into locks until I hit upon the correct one; the lock snapped open. I was about to go out but then I went to the refrigerator where he had gotten the beer, and looked at the food. My mouth quickly grew wet and I wiped my lips. But I settled on a 2 lbs package of ricotta cheese and two bottles of orange juice. I stuck that in my knapsack and put my damp jacket back on. Santa was still snoring, his exposed dick hanging limply, and I shrugged, recapped the bottle he was drinking from, and took that too in my knapsack. Suddenly, I felt sorry for Santa; he probably would lose his job for sleeping half-naked in the pizza shop and not cleaning up the place. What a Christmas surprise he would be? I snorted, and went out, frowning that it was still raining and snowing.

I scooped up a handful of slushy snow off a parked car and washed my hands and fingers of the uriney smell. Again I felt sorry for the drunken Santa, but then said, Fuck him! Christmas is a time of revelation, lots of things come out in the open. I’m sure that Santa was a good cleaner, after all, he had the keys to the place, but after this he’d be left keyless out in the cold. Like me…

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