Monday, June 1, 2015

Take This Man short stories edited by Neil Plakcy

A collection of romantic erotica focused on male couples in committed relationships. Edited by Neil Plakcy, Take This Man takes a close look at how much sexier an encounter can be when the two men involved have been together for long enough to matter.

Take This Man
Cleis Press (May 14, 2015)

Excerpt 1 from Take This Man:
“A Good Heart is This Day Found” excerpt by Rhidian Brenig Jonesa

Eight hours after I’d fixed it in place, Iain bent his head to the rosebud in his lapel. “I can’t believe he did this for us,” he said. “I still can’t believe he actually came.”

“I knew he would, in the end. All the flowers are his way of saying he’s okay with us now. You know my father, he’d never just come out and say it.” I propped the bottle against my hip and turned it steadily, felt the cork give. “Pass me the glasses. Anyhow, all those posies, whatever they’re called, that he made for the girls gave him a chance to show off.”

He moved the curtain aside and looked down at the hotel lawn. “Party’s still going strong. You’re sure you didn’t want to stay?”

“Nah, leave them to it.”

 “Reckon your mother’s stopped crying yet?”

 “Your mother-in-law, you mean? Not if she’s still necking the gin.”

 The curtain swung back into place and he turned to me with a slow grin. “My God, I’ve just realized. I’ve got a mother-in-law.”
“So have I.” I handed him a glass “You know what she said when I was dancing with her? You’re my second son, Christian. Sweet. So here’s to us, Mr. Leigh-Collier.”

 “Still think Collier-Leigh sounds better.”

 “I won the toss, darling, fair and square.”

 “So you did, so you did.”

 We clinked crystal and sipped, savoring the fresh, mineral edge of the Dom Perignon.

 I asked, “D’you feel different?”

 “Yeah, I think I do. It’s as if…ah, I don’t know how to describe it. It’s as if a last piece is in place, everything’s …complete.” He took my hand and slowly rotated the slim platinum band on my finger, the twin of the one I’d given him. “I’ve said it a million times but I want to say it again, I want to say it now.” He raised his face and looked solemnly into my eyes. “I love you, Chris. Whenever you think back to today, remember me telling you this. I love you and I always will.”

From “Into the Dark” excerpt by D.K. Jernigan

The entire cavern glittered and shone with crystals embedded in the walls. It was like a fairy wonderland or some magical palace, hidden here in the ground where only the dedicated—or those with romantic and determined lovers—would find it. A fitting reward for over an hour of fear and frustration in the dark, despite the fact that I hadn't done much to earn it.

I stepped forward and put a hand to the wall, feeling the cool smoothness of the crystal embedded in the rock. It was so marvelous, it took me a moment to realize that Rick had been standing next to more than a lantern. I turned slowly and faced the scene, and felt instantly like a total prick.

He must have come down here on his day off, yesterday, and gotten things set up for us. There was an inflatable mattress, fully inflated, and a bottle of wine, well cooled in the chilly air. He went down on one knee as I turned to face him, and my heart about stopped.

"Oh, Rick..."

"Mason. Will you?" He held up a ring box with a solid gold band, and I felt tears gather.

"Are you sure you still want to after all my whining?"

He grinned. "As long as I have permission to tell everyone that you whined and bitched the entire way to the proposal."

I held up my hand for him, and he slid the ring onto my finger; a promise made and sealed in gold. "Deal. You get wine glasses down here, too?"

"I wanted to, but it seemed like a bad idea. We've got plastic cups. You game?"

"Definitely." He poured, while I emptied my own backpack of food. I had wondered why he had insisted on me bringing impractical treats, like a box of strawberries. And why I'd had to carry all of it.

But when he sat on the mattress opposite me, and I took the first crisp, sweet sip of wine, food was the farthest thing from my mind.

From “My Apologies, Sir,” excerpt by Kiwi Roxanne Dunn

Owen should have known this was a bad idea: flying halfway around the world from England to turn up at the doorstep of Luther’s tony student-housing Harvard apartment without so much as an invitation. He should have assumed that the shock of his presence – unannounced and unexpected – on Luther’s doorstep, on Christmas Eve, might not be anything his ex-CO would want. 

But then, it had seemed too good an opportunity to pass up: after months of e-mails and passive-aggressive two a.m. IMs; the innuendo-laced Skype calls, in which Owen tried vainly to shock Luther awake for his eight a.m. class while Luther spluttered and blushed over his second cup of black Starbucks Espresso Roast – to see him in person.  What a wonderful world it would be, Owen thinks, grimly, without the slightest attempt at Christmas cheer coloring his thoughts.  More fool was I.

Owen still wasn’t sure if their covert-ops affair had been the deciding factor in Luther’s decision not to re-enlist after his initial service was up.  Perhaps he should have asked.  But it was a little late for that now.  Luther was a mister, not a Sir, and in his second year at Harvard Law School, so the whole question was (or is) now most decidedly a moot point as Owen uses the moment it takes Luther to unwind the white, doughy scarf from around his tall and shapely neck to wonder why he’d even assumed Luther would be alone for the holidays.

Still, Owen can’t help but remember the mingled shock and anger he’d felt, ringing Luther’s doorbell not six hours ago. He’d been greeted, not with the reserved happiness he might have expected from his former LT, but by a decidedly tipsy and unusually boisterous Luther, shrouded in a halo of Christmas tree lights spilling out from inside and surrounded by half-a-dozen of his grad school friends. They’d all been on their way to a Christmas party on the other side of town, and Owen had been left stammering his apologies to Luther’s white, wide-eyed expression.

Owen’s hands clench tight against his sides. Now is not the time to push Luther’s buttons, and Owen knows it. He can see it in the hard, thin press of Luther’s posh, plump lips, the angry furrow of worry lines in his forehead. But the silence is getting to Owen – eating at him, and all the knowledge in the world can’t seem stop a soft “Sir - ” from slipping past Owen’s lips.

The word is barely more than a breath, a quick exhalation of air that leaves Owen’s lungs like a punch. It still ought to be enough to provoke some sort of response from Luther, but the silence only lengthens. When Luther’s still quiet, even as he kicks off his loafers and pushes past Owen into the apartment, Owen’s hands start to sweat.  But he’s here, now. And he’s not going to run away from this. From Luther.

“Sir - ” But when Owen tries again, his voice is rough. It hurts to swallow, and there’s a dangerous heat building behind his eyes. “Luther!”  Owen breathes, as he moves to follow Luther into the privacy of his living room. If it sounds like begging, Owen doesn’t care. Much. He has to believe that this is salvageable. That is presence hasn’t ruined whatever tenuous connection they’d managed to keep alive between Luther’s studies and Owen’s stint with the Royal Marines.

From  “Strangers for the Night” excerpt by T.R. Verten

Shawn’s attention snaps into place. He looks up from the political bickering of his timeline with relief; here he is, the one he’s been waiting for. That melodious voice belongs to a man of middling height and dark red hair, whose average features cohere like a discordant symphony. Shawn’s fingers clench the slippery stem of his martini glass. Tanqueray and tonic -- he hears him order -- lemon, please, not lime.

Shawn drinks him in: his sinful mouth, curved around the lip of his glass, the teasing flick of his pink tongue, as he licks the gin from his upper lip; his slow-spreading smile to the bartender as she hands him his own tiny silver dish of pistachios. He catches Shawn’s eye and holds the stare that beat too long, then walks his drink and his dirty, angelic, dick-sucking face over to a corner table. His tight shirt was a bad idea, he thinks, since sweat is suddenly gathering in his armpits.

Shawn undoes the top two buttons of his shirt, twisting as he does so to watch him walk away, but the seat lies just beyond his range of motion. The windows, fortunately, reflect the man back at him, and he takes full advantage, tracking the quick motions of his hands as he cracks open the nuts, the delicate purse of his lips as he licks salt from his fingers.

He tips, then, with his ass falling off the leather, a graceless flail of limbs and momentary loss of his center, before he grabs the edge of the counter and rights himself. Shawn sits very still and wills himself to look at the counter, the bottles, the bartender, but he can’t help it, he’s too adorable, his mouth is obscene, he would destroy it given half a fucking chance.... his breaths come quick and shallow, the drive to look already turning his head once more --
-- and Tanqueray has sidled his way over, seeping his way into Shawn’s orbit. Their shoulders brush, electric. 

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