Monday, May 28, 2012

True Love's Kiss - Part 6

Previous Chapter - Part 5

Part 6

Ris glanced my way, regret clear in his eyes, before he turned back to the guard. I was getting really tired of watching him disappear behind his official mask.

“Lead the way, Palian,” Ris said to the guard with a wave of his hand. Not a second later, they were both quickly striding towards the garden’s entrance. I slumped back down on the bench and tried to control the cold feeling swirling in my gut. We had only really started to get to know each other tonight. How could I feel so disappointed at missing his kiss or that he left me behind without so much as a second glance? I was so wrapped in trying to ignore my bruised heart that I almost missed the clank of boots on the concrete path coming back towards me.

The runner was almost upon me before I looked up. I was startled to see Ris approaching me, confusion written plainly across his face.

“What are you doing, just sitting there, Be?”

“What else would I be doing? It’s not like I can interrogate a prisoner.” I said that with a little more vehemence than was strictly necessary. And I didn’t really want to see the man who shot me, did I? I had done a pretty good job of keeping my fear at bay for the past couple of weeks but it all rushed back with the thought of seeing my shooter. The terror I had not been allowing myself to feel since that night made its debut appearance, wrapping itself around my spine in an icy chain and it held me frozen in place as surely as any physical shackles.

Something of my thoughts must have shown on my face because Ris’ gaze softened and he pulled me up off the bench and into his arms. Heavens above, all other throughts flew from my head. His strong arms held me so close I imagined I could feel his heart beating against my chest, despite the layers of clothes between us. As I wrapped my arms around him and buried my head against his shoulder, I was overwhelmed with a sense of belonging and rightness that I had never felt from anyone before.

“I won’t let him hurt you, ever again. I promise.” He whispered, lips brushing against my ear in the process. We stood there for a few more moments as I tried valiantly not to start shaking or crying. Finally, I nodded slightly against his shoulder, took a deep breath and stepped out of his arms.

When I was far enough away he gently took hold of my chin and lifted it so I was forced to look into his piercing green eyes. His stare bored into my soul and I wondered what he was looking for. After a few brief seconds he seemed to find whatever it was and broke eye contact.

He threaded his fingers through mine reassuringly before he started walking back the way he came. I steeled myself for him to let go as we reached the waiting guard. When Ris’ hand remained steadfastly in mine, my heart did a little dance despite my stern warnings that it didn’t mean anything.

He didn’t let go until we reached the dungeons and had no choice but to walk single file down the winding stairs.

Nullnomen was waiting for us in the duty office that served the dungeon guards. Everyone turned to look at us as Ris stormed into the room, me in his wake.

“Clear the room,” he said in a deceptively calm voice. I was still standing close enough that, when I turned to leave with everyone else, he was able grab my wrist and whisper, “Not you, Be.”

In less than a minute the only people left in the room were me, Ris and Nullnomen.


“I discovered the identity of the shooter after overhearing two servants gossiping about a guard one of them had seen sneaking through the halls on the night in question. One speculated he was sleeping with the cook’s assistant but the other thought it odd he would be carrying such a large sack with him on a secret assignation. From there I deduced that he could be our shooter, trying to hide his crossbow. Upon arriving to search his room, he ran. He has since admitted to being the shooter but will not reveal who hired him or why.”

Nullnomen said all this as succintly as possible. However, his oily voice sent shivers down my spine as I listened to him describe what had happened. Almost unconsciously, I edged closer to Ris.

Ris didn’t notice. He nodded at Nullnomen and said, “Thank you. I will speak with him now.” He turned towards me, then, still keeping some distance. “Do you want to watch?”

I almost said no. I was going to say no. I definitely did not want to be in the same room as the man who had shot an arrow through my chest. But before the words could leave me lips I heard myself saying, “Yes.”

Ris nodded before turning towards the door. He led the way out and down the hall to the cell where my shooter was being held, and stopped for a moment before opening the door. In the moment it took him to cross the threshold of the cell, my Ris disappeared completely and was replaced by the cold strong façade of King Kalristian.

I hurried in after him and quickly found a corner to lurk in while I watched Ris.

“What is your name?” His voice was as cold as his countenance.

“Vailanar, sir.” The prisoner repsonded with obvious fear. I stared openly at him, wondering if he recognized me. Vailanar had obviously seen better days. His tunic was dirty and torn, as were his pants. His face was covered in dirt, bruises and blood. But it was his eyes that screamed his distress the most. They looked haunted and empty – like a man who knew that all he had left in life was pain.

“Who hired you?”

Vailanar shrunk back in his chair at this question. Ris let the question hang in the air for what seemed like ages. The tension created by the silence seemed to stretch and grow until the room was taut with it.

Eventually, Vailanar answered. “I can’t tell you, majesty. He’ll kill me.” He was on the verge of tears. I was glad that Ris had asked me come and see this. I couldn’t be afraid of this man anymore.

Ris and Vailanar went back and forth, Ris asking questions with ever growing anger and Vailanar cowering and crying.

Eventually Ris broke. His stormed up to Vailanar, grabbed the front of his tunic and dragged him until he could slam the shooter against the stone wall of the cell. In a quiet voice, thrumming with anger and power, Ris spoke, staring directly into Vailanar’s eyes, “If you do not tell me who hired you then I you will not need to worry about him killing you. I will beat the answers out of you. And if that doesn’t work, I will call Nullnomen in and allow him to practice his skills on you. You will die. But it will not be anytime soon.”

My alarm grew with every syllable of this speech. By the end I could not contain myself anymore. I walked over to Ris and pulled at his shoulder. It did not budge. “Your Majesty.” I said earnestly. He ignored me. I pulled harder, eventually hissing, “Ris” fiercely under my breath. It broke through and he turned towards me.

His eyes blazed anger and I was pretty sure it wasn't entirely for Vailanar. He grabbed by shoulder none too gently and pushed me towards the door.

When we were in the hallway with the door closed firmly behind I rounded on him. “You cannot possibly plan to torture him, Ris. I thought you were better than that!” I yelled at him.

His face was stormy as he replied, “Heavens damn you Be, of course I wasn’t going to torture him. He’s been broken already. Nullnomen did a number on him before we got here. Sometimes threatening more pain to someone who has already reached their limit can get results. If you had not interrupted, I could have gotten him to confess without calling my bluff!”

I stepped back, shocked. I didn’t like the idea that he had already been tortured but I was glad that Ris had no intention of torturing him further. I wasn’t really sure how to respond to Ris’ outburst though. He was running one hand through his hair and squeezing the bridge of his nose with the other. All of the sudden I noticed how exhausted he looked. His eyes were red and tired looking. The bags under them were dark and deep.

I stepped towards him, pulled his hands away from his face and looked him in the eyes before speaking again. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have doubted you.” I sighed. “What are we going to do now?”

He lifted his hands from where I was still holding them and ran them through my hair. He looked calculatingly at my face and, under my confusion, I felt a warmth running through me, emanating from his hands.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.

“Yes.” I replied without over-thinking it.

“Okay. I have a plan.” He stepped back from me. Then he waved a hand and whispered something under his breath. I felt a rush of tingles spread over my head. When I looked up at him, he answered the question I had asked with my eyes.

“I just did some illusion magic. You now look like I have beaten you rather severely about the head. We will return to the room together and it will look like I have punished you for interrupting me. It will add credence to my threats to harm him. Hopefully it will be enough.”

“And if it isn’t?”

He sighed a bone tired sigh and answered, “Then we will have to figure something out.” I sincerely hoped he wouldn’t resort to actually beating Vailanar if this didn’t work. I guess we would have to wait and cross that bridge when we got to it.

Ris stopped briefly before he opened the door again. “Remember to move like you are hurt.” I nodded and we entered the cell once more.

Vailanar blanched when he saw me. I shuffled back to the corner I had been in before. But instead of standing alertly and watching, I slumped against the wall and acted like the stones were all that kept me from toppling to the floor.

Ris didn’t even look in my direction. The moment he walked through the door, his eyes were locked on Vailanar.

It didn’t take him long after that to get a name from him.


I was truly shocked at that. That was the ex-High Regent’s son. I vaguely remembered him as the man who had glowered at me during my first meeting with Ris and Nullnomen. I could tell Ris was shaken as well. In the few weeks since he had awoken, he had become very close with Silurianus. If Vailanar was not lying, then Ris was most likely going to have execute the son of a man who was quickly becoming a dear friend for treason.

Ris was unable to get any further information from Vailanar on why Silenkian had hired him. It seems Silenkian had kept his motives to himself.

A few more minutes found us back in the duty office with Nullnomen. Ris’ command of “Find Silenkian and bring him here” still echoed on the walls when he sank into the chair. His head slumped down against the desk and I watched as the in control façade he worn slipped away and he allowed me to see everything he was feeling in the set of his back and the curve of his shoulder. My heart squeezed in my chest at his pain and I felt uncharacteristically light that he was actually letting me see it.

I walked up behind him and wrapped my arms around his torso. I dropped a gentle kiss on the back of his neck and whispered, “It’ll be okay. We’ll figure it out.”

To be continued…

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Hop Against Homophobia WINNERS announced!

Hi All!
Thanks for all your support during the Hop Against Homophobia! While we focused on it for these few days, it is an issue that won't be resolved overnight. We need to continue to be aware and stand up against those who would spread hatred.

And now to announce the winners for my giveaways.

Winner of their choice of any eBook I haven reviewed/rated on this blog in GIGI!!
Winner of a custom written ficbit is AMILYN!!
Winner of one piece of HRC swag under $15 is ANAS!!

I will be emailing the winners as well. They have 48 hrs to get back to me. If I don't hear from them by then I will draw again.

And now I give you today's pretty. =)

KITTEH!!! =)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hop Against Homophobia

When I was in seventh grade, one of my best friends came out as gay. I went to a private religious school but for some lucky reason most people just took it in stride. The people who hadn't liked him before still didn't like him and the people who did like him, still liked him. We had a couple of openly gay teachers and an openly trans* person who worked in the office. For the most part, life went on as usual.

Then in ninth grade, he was the first one in our group of friends to get a significant other. I was excited for him and when I was visiting my Dad's house for the weekend, I mentioned it at dinner along with all the other things that had happened in the two weeks since I had seen him and my Step-mom. I was completely unprepared for their reaction. I had a vague notion that my Dad and Step-mom were stricter than my Mom and that their church was more conservative but mostly it hadn't really translated into any real life consequences. Hearing them talk about the evils of homosexuality was the first time I consciously recognized that my faith was not necessarily anything like the faith of my parents.

For almost a decade I struggled to reconcile my faith with the God I knew, a God who never hate someone for how they were born, a God who would never hate anyone. Period. Amazingly enough, the first M/M Romance (ish) book I read is what helped me to start understanding how I could reconcile the two. I worked at a Christian Bookstore at the time and they got a in a book called The God Box by Alex Sanchez. It is a bit preachier than I look for in my reading material these days but it was an epiphany at the time. I don't even remember the exact theological points from the book anymore, just that it started a new conversation in my mind.

Two years ago, in the course of my graduate school studies, I took a class called Eros and Civilization: Scripture, Society and Homosexuality. As a part of this class I did a project on the impact of religiously based homophobia. I put a survey up on the M/M Romance Group and asked for people to respond with their experiences. The response was almost overwhelming. My heart broke as I read over my survey results.

Homophobia, whether religiously motivated or not, is an evil that we can no longer tolerate. "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good [people] to do nothing."

In our M/M Romance community, there are over 250 authors, reviewers, editors, and publishers who have chosen to speak up by participating in this year's Hop Against Homophobia. Check out that link to read their stories.

Thank you so much for visiting today and I would love to hear from you. If you comment below, you will be entered for a drawing on Sunday, May 20th, 2012 for some cool prizes. Make sure to include a way to contact you (email preferred). Three winners will be drawn.

DRAWING CLOSED! Winners posted here.

1 copy of an eBook I have rated or reviewed on this blog
1 free custom written ficbit
1 item under $15 from the Human Right's Campaign Store

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Updates and PRETTY!


Update the First - I did a post over at Paranormal Paradigms today called "Stepping Through the Thin Places." Go check it out!!!

Update the Second - I know you are all patiently waiting for more True Love's Kiss. Now that the insanity of my LiAW story is done (completely) I PROMISE, pinky swear, you will have at least one more chapter, maybe two, next week. So be on the look out.

Update the Third - Check back here tomorrow night because I am participating in the HOP AGAINST HOMOPHOBIA. It is a blog hop with a TON of authors participating and giving things away (YES, I will be giving something away) so check back in for PRIZES tomorrow.

And now, THE PRETTY!!!

Don't ask me why, just go with it!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Life in Chaos Excerpt!

IT'S EXCERPT TIME! I have two excerpts picked out  from Life in Chaos (my LiAW story). You get one now and one later, depending on how long it takes to get to my story in the posting rotation!!* ENJOY!!!

Six Months Ago

We were sitting on the couch watching reruns of Firefly when it all went wrong. Everything started when the phone rang. It was in the middle of a gripping scene where two of the main characters were being tortured while trying to plan their escape and I would have let the phone ring, but we were at Andrew’s place and he answered before I could beg him not to.

I paused the TiVo when I heard him say, “Hi, Mom,” knowing it would be a long conversation. I always feel a little awkward sitting around when someone else is on the phone, so I went to the kitchen to start cleaning up all our take out boxes from dinner. By the time he hung up, I had wiped the counters, thrown away all the rotten leftovers from the fridge, taken out the garbage, and made coffee.

My first clue that the evening was going to be worse than a paused television show was Andrew’s tone of voice when he called out, “Shawn, I need to ask you something.” It wasn’t angry. It was more resigned, or possibly disappointed. I tried to keep a smile on my face as I walked back into the living room.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“My mom invited us to Thanksgiving dinner.” That’s when I knew what had been in Andrew’s voice. He knew I couldn’t go. He knew why I couldn’t go. But he was still asking.

See, my Dad is mayor of a small town in backwoods Texas - the kind of town that makes Rick Santorum look liberal- and every year on Thanksgiving, he throws his Annual Fundraiser Gala. Family is Expected to attend. Yes, that is a capital “E” expected. The only thing that could be worse than not attending is not attending because I was with my gay lover’s family. Not that they knew I was gay, or ever would.

I looked at him, sure that my thoughts were clear on my face. “And?”

“Will you come?”

“You know I can’t. My mom would kill me for missing my Dad’s Gala.” I said this with as much calm as possible. This was an old fight with us. At some point, one of us would lose our cool and we would start yelling. Nevertheless, nothing in the world could have prepared me for what he asked next.

“Then, can I go with you?”

I just stood there, dumbstruck, for a good thirty seconds, and I am sure my horror was apparent in my expression. This was when I expected him to start yelling. But again, I was surprised.


Didn't want to give too much away so you got a flashback...aren't I evil. And I promise, you will love Andrew despite this scene. =)

*This story will eventually be posted as a part of the M/M Romance Group's Love is Always Write summer event. After it is posted there I will put it up for free on smashwords.