Saturday, December 24, 2016
A wonderful surprise from Dreamspinner Press. One last sale before the end of the year. A perfect opportunity to catch up on my Open Series before the final book in the trilogy releases in early February.
Lastly, my sexy Santa and I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday!
Friday, December 16, 2016
Long ago before my first published novel, I wrote in the QAF fandom under the name mickiebg. All my stories were AU (Alternate Universe). Some of my characters were figments of my imagination and others belonged to the creators of the Queer as Folk series. This is one of my favorites. Feel free to leave me a comment if you enjoyed this story. I'd love to hear back from you!
Brian sat in front of the fireplace holding a snifter in one hand and his phone in the other. He was waiting for the call that would tell him if this was going to be his last Christmas or not.
He was resigned to hearing bad news. It had been a miracle that he’d lived this long. He should have died years ago as a result of bad genes and a life of excess.
Instead, he’d proved them all wrong and had gone on to live until the ripe old age of sixty-three which really wasn’t that old, in an age when people were living well into their nineties.
He took a sip of the Courvoisier, relishing the taste on his tongue, the heat making its way down his throat, attempting to warm him. Nothing else seemed to reach that icy lump sitting in the pit of his stomach since they found the growth on his good testicle.
It had been Justin who’d felt it, naturally, as he was rolling it around in his mouth, a prelude to the rimming he was about to dispense. The meltdown and hysteria that followed were classic. He’d insisted that Brian call the doctor immediately, ignoring the fact that it was the middle of the night and they were in Chicago for his latest show.
Justin had roused poor Doctor Shah and had explained in a loud and demanding voice that he do something. The rest was a blur of hospitals, tests and hands all over his body; a fucking invasion of every square inch of skin, to be exact. It was just as humiliating and humbling as it was years ago. This time, however, he wasn’t going to go through all the bullshit with radiation and whatever assorted modes of torture they were going to suggest.
Back then, he’d done it for Gus, because he was still a child and needed a father. He’d done it for himself, because he was at the height of his career and needed to prove that he could make it and get Kinnetik off the ground. He’d done it for Justin, who would have been devastated if he’d died before they even had a life.
Now he was going to do it his way, and if that meant doing nothing, no one was going to stop him or convince him otherwise. He just had to hear the word, malignant or benign, and then he’d start making plans.
The door of the study pushed open and he heard the footsteps before he saw the face, and the little boy hurled himself at him, all but knocking the drink out of his hand. He scrambled onto Brian’s lap and latched on, hugging him tightly with his chubby arms.
“Taylor…hey, Buddy…when did you get here?”
“Just come, Papa B.”
Brian saw that Mrs. Lopez was standing patiently at the door. She’d been Taylor’s nanny ever since Sasha had hired her. “Where’s your daddy?”
“Big hopsital with Mama and Daddy Mark.”
“Is Aedan with you?”
“Da with Daddy.”
“So you mean it’s just you and me, Buddy?”
Taylor nodded enthusiastically, causing the brown curls that crowned his head to bob up and down. “And Mislopes. I hungry.”
Brian laughed, and put his drink down on the table and stood up with Taylor in his arms. “Let’s go see if we can’t scrounge up some food for you, okay? Mislopes,” Brian said, looking at the patient figure who doted on Taylor as if he were her own child, “Why don’t you go and get your things settled. I’ve got him.”
Taylor put his little hand on Brian’s cheek and made him look him in the eye. “Pbudder, Papa.”
“Not yuck, Papa! Good for you. Hair on stomach.”
“You mean your chest, and that’s a load of crap.”
“Ooh, you said crap,” Taylor whispered, his big blue eyes twice their normal size. “You need time-out.”
“I hardly think that saying crap would earn me a time-out. You, on the other hand, shouldn’t say that word, at least till you’re four,” Brian stated, trying very hard not to laugh.
“Mama said no potty mouth for Taylor.”
“And your mama is a smart and beautiful lady and you must obey.”
“’Kay. Where Papa J?”
“Your grandfather is at the hospital with your mama and assorted daddies.”
“I lucky, huh, Papa B.”
“Three daddies…more than Benjie.”
“How about that; three daddies and three grandpas. You can’t beat that.”
“Is Benjie coming?”
“He’ll be here tomorrow with his mommy and daddy. We’re having the big Christmas party, remember?
“Who else, Papa?”
“Everyone will be here, but tonight is the special night when Santa Claus comes to our house and leaves you lots of presents under the tree.”
“Mama said Santa is bringing baby sister. Is he coming down the chimney, Papa B?” Taylor asked, twisting around in Brian’s arms and getting agitated. “We need to take out the fire. Baby will get hurt!”
“Taylor, calm down. The baby will not come through the chimney and land in the fire. That’s an old wives’ tale.”
“The baby will come out of Mama’s stomach. She said, Papa B.”
“She’s right, Taylor.”
“Mama said baby sister is hiding inside her tummy. She’s sucking her thumb,” Taylor squealed, “I saw the picture!”
“Is she really?”
“Uh-huh,” Taylor nodded, “And then she sliding out the bagina!”
“Papa! One more time-out.”
“Okay, sorry, Buddy. You sort of threw me with that word.”
“You need to be good, Papa B, or no presents for you.”
“I’m doing my best, Taylor. Now, do you want white or wheat?”
“You mean this white shit?”
“Shh…I know, Taylor. Papa B has a major potty mouth.”
Taylor’s head bobbed up and down, even as his rounded eyes never took their sights off of Brian.
“Okay, I’ll be good. You eat the peanut butter and banana.”
Brian watched as Taylor dug into the meal. He loved watching the little boy who was a wonderful combination of all the people he loved. Taylor had Sasha’s skin color, the rich creamy mocha that offset his beautiful blue eyes. They were the exact same color as Mark’s, the deep blue that was mesmerizing as hell. Brian could only imagine the damage those eyes would inflict when they zeroed in on their prime target, be it male or female. Taylor had Justin’s mouth and bone structure, his assorted allergies and from all the early signs, his mercurial personality. Calm and happy one minute, a little diva-like the next. Taylor was pretty good at throwing fits when things didn’t go his way. It was a credit to Sasha and all the daddies that he was able to keep his temper tantrums to a minimum. He could have been a raging spoiled brat, instead, he was a loving and fun kid; and so very easy to look at.
The phone rang. Brian forgot he had even brought it to the kitchen and he picked it up and saw that it was Justin. He breathed a sigh of relief, glad that it wasn’t the doctor. He didn’t want to deal with any of that right now.
“Hey, Sunshine. Are we grandparents again?”
“Not yet…she’s still in labor.”
“How long has it been?”
“Only six hours.”
“Only? Sounds hellish.”
“I know. Mark is beside himself.”
“Well, tell him to calm down. Sasha will come through like a trooper. Who’s with you?”
“The three dads and Daphne. Alex is at work and the great-grandparents haven’t arrived yet.”
“Thank, God. You’d need a bigger waiting room.”
“Have you heard anything from Dr. Shah?”
“You’re not lying, are you?”
“Would I do that to you?”
“Yes. You’d do anything to keep me from loosing it.”
“I would,” Brian responded gently. “But not in this case.”
“Promise me that you’ll call as soon as you hear.”
“I told you I would. Now, stop being such a nagging wife and get ready to meet your granddaughter.”
“How’s Taylor holding up?”
“He’s good. We’re in the kitchen having a sandwich.”
“His usual PB and B?”
“What are you going to do afterwards?”
“I thought we’d go shopping and pick up a few more gifts. I’m not quite done yet.”
“Is everything ready for tomorrow? Max assured me that the caterer would do all the work and you’d have nothing to do but write the check.”
“I’m sure that’s the case. Don’t worry about it.”
“I hope this will be over soon. The suspense is killing everyone.”
“What suspense? You all know it’s going to be a girl.”
“I know, but Gus and Aedan are vibrating in place and Mark looks like he’s going to throw up any minute now. Who knew this could be so dramatic?”
“Well, three fathers and one mother is a pretty interesting situation. I’m surprised the media isn’t there yet.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. The only ones who know the circumstances of this birth are...”
“Our immediate family,” Brian interrupted. “All four hundred of us!”
Justin started to laugh. “Well, the situation is a little different from last time. This has been a joint effort, a collaboration of brilliant minds.”
“It’s been the most interesting four-way since you and I hooked up with those twins in Australia.”
“Ssh…don’t remind me.”
“Don’t tell me you’re horny.”
“I’m alive, aren’t I?”
“You’re a shit!”
“And you love me.”
Brian held the phone tightly, gripping it until his fingers were white.
“I heard you, and yes, I do love you.”
“Enough to do whatever it takes to make you better?”
“You’re assuming the worst.”
“Better than being in denial.”
“I’m sorry…I’m just so worried.”
“Stop it, okay. It’s Christmas Eve and Taylor is done with his meal and we are going to go and spend obscene amounts of money. Call when the baby gets here.”
“You bet. Brian?”
Brian sighed into the phone. “What, Sunshine?”
“I love you.”
“I know you do. I love you, too.”
The inside of the limo looked like a branch of FAO Schwartz. There were stuffed animals everywhere. Taylor couldn’t decide which one to buy for his new sibling so Brian bought everything in sight.
“You do realize that you’re going to need a room just for all these animals.”
Taylor was sitting beside him bouncing up and down on the seat, holding a small giraffe against his body. “Baby has a room, Papa. Daddy and Da made it, with lots and lots of pink colors.”
“And your Papa J is going to paint pretty pictures on the wall, just like in your room.”
“I did that the other day, but I had a time-out! Da said Taylor mustn’t color on walls. How come Papa J can do that? He should have a time-out,” Taylor pouted, looking exactly like Justin. So much so that Brian automatically reached for him to envelope the boy in his arms and hug him tightly against his body.
“I’m afraid that you’re going to have to wait a few years before you can start drawing on walls, little guy.”
Taylor rubbed his face against Brian’s cheek. He pulled away from Brian and held his tiny hand against the soft beard that Brian had taken to wearing. He petted the soft hair that was flecked with gray.
“What?” He looked down at the innocent blue eyes that were staring up at him. “I love you the best.”
Brian felt the sting of tears pushing against the back of his eyes and he took a deep breath and willed himself to stay in control. “Thank you, Taylor. I love you the best, too.”
“When I’m a big boy, will you let me draw on your walls?”
“Do you like to draw?”
Taylor nodded his head. “I like colors, Papa.”
“What’s your favorite?”
Brian chuckled. “You’re a chip off the old block.”
“That means you’re just like your Papa J.”
“Does he like to snuggle, Papa?”
“Oh, yes. He likes it very much.”
“Daddy and Da snuggle all the time. Sometimes they let me lie down in-between them and we make a sammich. Daddy says I’m the sweet stuff and him and Da are the squishy breads.”
“You are definitely the sweet stuff, Taylor, my boy.”
“I love my daddies the best, too.”
Brian smiled. “It’s good that you love your daddies. Do you like Daddy Mark?”
Taylor nodded, pulling away from Brian to resume the bouncing. “Daddy Mark is way cool.”
“He can play the guitar.”
“I had no idea.”
“He can sing, too.”
“He sings for me and Mama, and then when he puts me in bed he and Mama snuggle. They like to do that.”
“I guess we’re just a snuggling kind of family.”
“Taylor, would you please stop bouncing. The motion is making me nauseous.”
The phone rang at that exact moment and Brian reached into his pocket and pulled it out. “Hey.”
“It’s a girl!”
“It would have posed a problem if it weren’t, since everything within a five mile radius of her is now pink.”
“Oh, stop it! She’s beautiful, Brian.”
“Who does she look like?”
“A little bit of everyone.”
“That’s good. What color are her eyes?”
“I love blue eyes.”
Justin was silent for just a second and then he said quietly, “I know you do.”
“With all my heart.”
“Have you heard?” Justin asked, the catch in his voice a clear indication that he was crying.
“Hey...no news yet…please stop.”
“I will. When are you coming home?”
“I’ll be there in another hour or so. I just want to hang around with the guys for a bit. They’re all going nuts taking turns carrying this baby.”
“Have they named her yet?”
“Well, she’s a Christmas baby.”
“Don’t tell me they’re naming her after Santa Claus?”
Justin laughed, “You’re crazy!”
“So, tell me. Taylor and I want to know, right Buddy?”
Taylor grabbed the phone. “Papa J, we bought lots of toys for baby sister! Did she slide out the bagina?”
Taylor passed the phone back to Brian with a puzzled look on his face. “He can’t talk. He’s laughing at me.”
Brian kissed him on the cheek. Let me handle this, Buddy. “Justin, stop laughing like a hyena and tell me her name.”
Brian smirked, looking at his grandson who was staring at him intently.
“Get a grip, Sunshine.”
“Her name is Noelle.”
“I thought so, too. Very Christmasy.”
“Almost as nice as bagina.”
“Stop!” Justin was choking and snorting into the phone.
“Come home soon, okay?”
“I’ll be there shortly.”
Just then the limo pulled into the driveway at Britin and they got out of the car and Taylor dashed out from under Brian and threw himself on the snow in the yard, flapping his arms up and down making a snow angel.
“Come on, Papa B. You can make your own angel.”
Brian shook his head and moved over to where Taylor was lying on the ground, now covered in white. “You’re going to catch a cold!”
He tugged at Brian’s cuff and said, “Please, Papa?”
And if Brian Kinney ever had any illusions that he could say no to a Taylor who stared up at him with those blue, blue eyes, he was sadly mistaken. He lay down beside his grandson and started to make his own angel.
Brian and Taylor were in the king-sized bathtub, warming up after their invigorating session with nature. There were now several snow angels that littered their front lawn.
“You like the hot chocolate that Mislopes brought you?”
“It’s good, Papa. It has marshies floating in it.”
“Do you have some in your drink?”
Brian observed that Taylor’s face was pink from the combination of warm water and hot chocolate and his hair sprung out in wet ringlets framing his face. He looked like an angel himself. All he needed were the tiny wings.
“Marshies and Irish coffee don’t quite work, but it’s all good.”
“Da is Irish, Papa.”
“I know this. So am I, and so is your daddy, and Daddy Mark.”
“Absolutely! You are one-half Irish…an honorary leprechaun, that’s what you are.”
“What’s that, Papa?”
“They are magical little people. Just like you!”
“When I grow up, I’m going to be like you.”
“Why do you say that?”
“My mama says you’re pecial so when I’m a big boy, I’ll make a beard like you and be very, very pecial.”
“Your Da has a beard, too.”
Taylor nodded and sipped at his hot chocolate. “Will baby sister have a peenus?”
Brian spat out a mouthful of coffee and he put the cup down on the floor trying desperately not to laugh. “No, Taylor. Only boys have a penis.”
“That’s too bad.”
“My sentiments, exactly.”
“Nothing, Buddy. Now, drink your hot chocolate before it turns to ice.”
After the bath, they dressed in warm flannel pajamas and proceeded into the master bedroom where the fire roared in the big brick fireplace on one side of the room. They sat on the white, sheepskin throw rug in front of it and waited for the cook to bring up their dinner.
“This was a fun day, wasn’t it?” Brian asked, ruffling Taylor’s hair which was now drying rapidly.
“Yes. Can we do this again next Christmas?” Taylor questioned.
Brian was silent for a bit and then said, “We’ll see, okay, Buddy?”
“Papa, we need to go downstairs and turn on the Christmas lights.”
“Yes, so that when Papa J comes home, he’ll see them from far away. Like the shining star…Mama said it was the flashlight that showed the three Kings how to find Baby Jesus on Christmas Eve. We need to guide Papa J.”
Brian stood and picked Taylor up with both hands and cradled him in his arms. “Let’s go downstairs.” He padded down the hallway in bare feet, holding Taylor tightly against him. His emotions were way too close to the surface after spending the day with someone who didn’t edit or censor anything that came out of his mouth.
In the entryway, he moved over to the side panel that was recessed behind one of Justin’s paintings. He lifted off the painting and hit the switch that turned on all the Christmas lights. The lawn lit up with the glow of thousands of tiny white bulbs that were strung throughout the yard and around the house.
Taylor clapped in delight as the figurines of Santa and the reindeer started to move in slow motion, in sync with the flickering of the lights. Justin had outdone himself this year, turning their front lawn into a replica of the North Pole and Santa’s workshop. “Papa, can we go outside?”
“Why the hell not. I always wanted to have pneumonia on Christmas.”
Taylor put his hand on Brian’s mouth. “Shh…you said hell.”
Brian grabbed their coats off the wrought iron hooks by the door. He stuck his feet into a pair of boots and he picked Taylor up and carried him outside. They stood on the lawn admiring the lights just as Justin drove up.
He bounced out of the car and literally hurled himself at Brian and Taylor, squeezing them both in a death grip. “How are my two favorite guys?”
“Papa J! Did you bring the baby?”
“No, big guy. She’s coming home in a few days.”
“Did she say hi to me?”
“She did; Noelle said to say hi to her big brother and Merry Christmas.”
“That’s her name. Didn’t you tell him?” Justin asked, turning towards Brian.
“I guess I forgot.”
“Papa B is silly, isn’t he?” Justin said, nuzzling Taylor on the neck.
“Papa B is my best friend.”
“I am his best friend forever and very pecial, just in case you didn’t know this,” Brian said, kissing Justin soundly on the lips.
“How could I not?” He looked up with raised eyebrows. “Any word?”
“No. Let’s go in the house.”
Brian put his arm around Justin and with Taylor clutched in the other, they made their way back into the house. A few minutes were spent getting rid of boots and jackets, scarves and gloves. Finally, they stepped into the great room and sat on the sofa in front of another fireplace that was roaring nicely.
There was an assortment of fruit and cold cuts on the sideboard near one wall and a large platter of cookies. Taylor squealed when he saw them, but Justin insisted that he have some cheese and fruit first. Eventually, Mrs. Lopez came to gather up a droopy Taylor who was more than ready for bed.
“Papa B. Come upstairs and tell me a story.”
“We’ll be up in a minute, Buddy. You go upstairs, brush your teeth and pick out a book.”
“’Kay,” he said, blowing them each a kiss as Mrs. Lopez carried him out of the room.
And right then, as if the doctor knew they were alone, the phone rang.
Brian looked at caller ID and said, “It’s him.”
Justin grabbed the phone and Brian stood up and went to look out the window. He heard Justin say hello. After that he tuned everything out. He didn’t want to hear what he already knew. The sobbing penetrated his consciousness and he turned quickly to see Justin on his knees, bent forward, his forehead on the wooden floor. He felt something hard and evil punch him in the stomach and the bile rushed to his mouth, making him heave. He stood there and closed his eyes and prayed that it would be quick. He didn’t care about himself; it was Justin he worried about. Seeing him like this would make his death that much harder.
He moved over to Justin and he bent down and grabbed him by the arms, hauling him up quickly and embracing him. Justin continued to cry, letting out huge sobs and saying, ‘thank you’, in stops and stutters. After a few minutes, the words started to penetrate the fog in Brian’s head. He pushed Justin back with a puzzled look on his face and asked, “Thank you?”
“It’s benign, Brian. The fucking tumor is benign,” Justin said, breaking down again and crying even harder.
Brian couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He grabbed Justin’s face with both hands and said, “What’d you say?”
“You’re going to be fine,” Justin said, unable to stem the flood of tears. “I’m sorry; I can’t seem to stop crying. I’ve been a wreck for weeks.”
“Hey, come here.” Brian wiped off Justin’s face and started to lay the kisses on him. First on his neck and then his cheek, his eyes, his mouth…he seemed intent on covering every part of Justin’s face with his lips, whispering, ‘I love you’, in a soft, breathy voice that broke occasionally, as a sob slipped through his resolve. Finally, Justin was quiet and they stood together holding each other so tightly, more than grateful that they’d dodged the bullet again. “How’d I get so lucky?” Brian asked.
“How did I?”
They left the room hand-in-hand and climbed up the stairs to Taylor’s room. Mrs. Lopez left as soon as they walked in and they looked down at Taylor who was already half asleep. He was holding the giraffe they’d bought that afternoon and he said, “You want to make a Taylor sammich?”
Brian smiled down at him and climbed into bed. He pulled Taylor’s little body against his chest and then Justin lay on the other side of the boy, facing him, one arm draped loosely across Taylor’s body so that he could touch Brian’s as well.
“We’re making a sammich, Papa J.”
“That’s right, Buddy, the very best kind, with my two favorite ingredients.”
“What’s gredients?” Taylor asked, barely able to keep his eyes open.
“Never mind, little guy. Close your eyes.”
After a few minutes, Taylor’s breathing shifted, signaling the arrival of sleep and they stood and walked out of the room.
The master bedroom was lit by the enormous fire that burned steadily in the corner. They walked with their arms around each other and stood at the large picture window overlooking the snow-covered lawn.
“Who made the snow angels?” Justin asked.
“Taylor and I did earlier this evening.”
“They seemed to have done their job tonight,” Justin stated. “Thank them for me, will you?”
“We’ll thank them together,” Brian said, bending down and kissing him deeply.
Brian took Justin’s hand and pulled him towards the carpet in front of the fireplace. They laid down in a tangle of arms and legs, holding each other tightly. “Who ever said that wishes don’t come true?” Justin asked quietly.
“Whoever said it didn’t know you.”
“Merry Christmas, Brian.”
“I love you, Justin…”
Saturday, December 10, 2016
The winner of the $20.00 Dreamspinner Gift Certificate is Tan. Please contact me here or on FaceBook so we can talk about retrieving your prize. Thank you for participating.
On a much sadder note, I'm sure you're aware that we've lost Eric Arvin, one of the kindest and most gifted writers to grace our genre. He will be taken off his ventilator on Monday and will be moving on to his next great adventure. There's a fund that has been set up to help his family with the mounting costs. Any amount would be appreciated.
Here's the link to donate: https://www.gofundme.com/um-a-mothers-love?ssid=833789918&pos=1
Thursday, December 8, 2016
With over 420 entries, I'm thrilled to announce that Yesterday was one of twenty runner-ups in the 2016 Rainbow Awards: Best Gay Book Category. Here is what the judges had to say:
1) Powerful from start to finish, Yesterday is a stunning story rich in culture and history. One cannot help but be pulled deep into the plight of forbidden love and the psyche of the characters. In a world filled with unspeakable horrors and oceans of pain, Yesterday is magically written and we live each moment through to a happy ending. Hauntingly beautiful, written in deft prose, Ms. Ashling’s Yesterday exemplifies the very essence of true storytelling.
2) The author has done her research and it shows in not just the setting, but the way the characters react. Kam's struggle to reconcile his sexuality with his beliefs feels very realistic, and I got hooked on his and Grady's story very quickly.
3) Interesting tale of worlds colliding in both cultural and romantic tendencies, set in a time of upheaval that lead to anarchy. A recommended read.
I'm so proud this novel was included in such prestigious company. In our current devisive atmosphere, I feel it's important to write stories that celebrate our differences rather than focus on the negative.
For those of you who are interested in reading this interracial historical novel, I've attached the links.
Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/yesterday-by-mickie-b-ashling-6224-b
Friday, December 2, 2016
I'm over at The Novel Approach today helping to celebrate their fifth year anniversary with a post and giveaway. Check it out!