Club Storyville – Coming April 18th, 2014

“There was a song in my grandmother’s head I never heard her sing.”

This is the first line of my upcoming novel, Club Storyville. For those of you who’ve read my other books, it may seem a bit of a departure.

I have a love-hate relationship with first-person. On one hand, many of my favorite books are written in first-person – Mirabilis, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Reader. The Bluest Eye is partly in first-person, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye. There is certainly nothing wrong with first-person perspective.

On the other hand, first-person done badly can often feel as if you’ve been sucked into someone’s personal fantasy.

Time shall tell, I guess, how my first-person is interpreted, because, with this particular novel, I could write it no other way. This is such a deeply personal story – not mine, Elizabeth’s – and this book is very close to my heart. It is chock-full of things toward which I am overly sentimental. Train travel. The south. Brassy southern grandmothers. Old cars.

And it’s peppered with things I spend a lot more time than I should thinking about. Like how the rules of society divide us. How the adopted morality of some impedes the happiness of others. How an open hand can change us for the better, and a closed hand can make us hard and hesitant.

Writing this novel has been extraordinarily difficult. It has been a long journey through our not-so-distant past, a journey during which I was repeatedly reminded dystopian worlds are not just the works of science fiction, that people have lived in them throughout history. Many still live in dystopian pockets today.

Writing this novel has also been extraordinarily blessed. Because when you immerse yourself in a time and circumstances that feel so bleak, you cannot help but find beauty.

A single red rose is positively striking against shades of gray.

Author’s Note: You might notice the slight change in the release date, from Tuesday, April 15th to Friday, April 18th. My partner had an unexpected ailment/appendectomy, and I’ve lost some days, so I’m giving myself a small extension to ensure a minimal amount of stress.

Subtext Recap: Once Upon a Time 3.14 – The Tower

-OR-

The One in Which the Subtext Can Be Boiled Down to a Single Twitterism

Seeing as I watch Once Upon a Time for two reasons, there is nothing quite as painful in those opening moments than to hear that one of those reasons will be spending the duration of the episode apart, and the other will be back-burnered along with her shiny hair.

So, except for that brief, shining moment when Regina was all like, “Awww, Baby, you learned to lie,” The Tower was off to an ominous start.

But then… what’s this?

Why, it’s Regina in natural light, reacting in a rather strange manner upon learning that Emma received a marriage proposal while under the illusion of her false memories in New York and being all cute and motherly with Henry.

“Oh,” Regina is stunned by the information, and digs for further insight into this… Walsh, whose name, like those of all Emma’s past love interests, she simply cannot speak without a measure of disdain.

One could claim – and plenty will – that Regina was merely reacting to the fact that Henry could have been swept up in a nuclear family that didn’t include her. But, basically, it was #ThatAwkwardMoment when one is supposed to have no feelings about her former nemesis shacking up with a sock monkey, but sort of does.

Also, I do look forward to potential amusing shenanigans from my platonic Once ‘ship Gold and Regina. That smile on Regina’s face when she learned of Gold’s non-dead status was glorious.

Subtext Recap: Once Upon a Time 3.12 & 3.13 – New York City Serenade & Witch Hunt

Here’s what I can say about Once Upon a Time‘s spring return. I know exactly why I watch this show, and so long as Lana Parrilla keeps having that ultra-shiny Regina hair, and Emma and Regina have their moments, I will continue to watch it.

That said, I waited until Thursday of last week to watch the show’s return, and still felt like I watched it too soon. The only satisfaction I got at all out of New York City Serenade is knowing how many of those “million moms” tuning in – the ones who think the mere notion of Emma & Regina is “gross” and that they are obviously “two women who hate each other,” even after two and a half seasons that prove them wrong – were thinking, “Yeah, but he’s a sexy monkey,” regarding Emma’s newest loverboy primate and, “They have sooooooo much chemistry,” two seconds after Regina and Robin Hood met for the first time.

Cause you know… whatever.

Also, on a list of things not to do, drinking a strange substance right in front of a police station while standing with a man just sprung from the clink, probably not the best idea.

And, really? Human lie detector Emma Swan can’t tell when a flying monkey is trying to lock her up in matrimony just to keep her captive in New York?

So, onto Witch Hunt, which was far more watchable than New York City Serenade for two very important reasons. One, Emma and Regina interactivities, and, two, Regina’s hair being all down around her shoulders and Regina-ey.

It all starts with a crash as Regina sees Henry back in Storybrooke and gets slippy fingers on her mug. As Regina stands staring in shock and pain at her beloved little prince, Emma is up in a flash of apology and lesbionic yearning as she goes to Regina and tells her they need to talk.

Then, there’s that moment where Regina says, “He looked right through me,” in a pained voice. You know, in that very open, vulnerable way she has with everyone. And there’s the instantaneous teaming up, as Regina is prone to do, a show for the rabble, and a chemistry lesson in the mayor’s office.

For those who might have missed it, here are your crib notes.

Eager student Emma says, “What is chemistry like?”

Regina says, “Thank you.”

“What are you talking about?” Emma responds. “I seriously need to pass Chemistry 101.”

“I am giving you what you need,” Regina explains. “You see, I am thanking you for believing in me (again) when no one else did. I know that wasn’t easy for you.”

And, smile coming to Emma’s face, she starts to make the connection. “Sure it was,” she says. “Now, let’s go back and forth for some time about the deep understanding I have of your inner workings and how I know when you are inert and when you are about to combust, then we’ll smile at each other in a totally unintentional way.”

“Well, Dear,” Regina says. “It seems to me you have a perfect understanding of chemistry.”

“So, I pass?” Emma smirks.

“Oh, you more than pass,” Regina’s doting smile lingers on Emma. “You, Emma, are my star pupil.”

And scene.

Next up, it’s into Emma’s little yellow bug for some serious bondage bonding time, where Emma and Regina review the in-depth points of chemistry by Regina asking for details about Emma’s work and Emma trying to convince Regina to meet their son.

Which she does.

Because that’s just the kind of lesbian co-mommies they are.

10 Things I Learned (Verified) During the 2014 Academy Awards

I know, I know, award shows aren’t exactly the place to glean essential life lessons, but these aren’t exactly essential life lessons. They’re more like casual observations that have an element of something resembling something worth knowing.

So, here they are. The ten things I learned from this years Oscars, in order of increasing importance, and starting with the one that has already become a staple of popular culture. 

10 - Names one doesn’t know can be difficult. Learn them in advance. Memorize them. Say them out loud and often. Rubberband snap yourself if need be. Know the fucking name, Travolta.

On a side note: Idina recovered like a boss.

9 - Bill Murray has his moments. Even if he has been the most vocal holdout for Ghostbusters 3. And has a reputation as a prick. And even if I sort of believe the story I once read that he stole some dude’s pizza on a street in New York and ran off with it, shouting “No one will believe you!”

8 – Ellen makes such a great host because she humanizes people that seem otherwise untouchable. Some antics go on a wee bit long, but they get the job done.

And while her feel-good moments may not be a song and dance, they are certainly better than watching an unapologetically sexist opening number intended to remind every woman in the room they have one purpose.

7 - Bette Midler has officially stopped reaching for those high notes. But she is still Bette Midler.

6 - Hollywood will never grasp that a standard mic cannot withstand a Broadway voice at full throttle without some tweaking or distortion.

5 - Pharrell is really determined to make that look happen.

4 – Every time I see Christian Bale in the audience of an award show, I think “Is Russell Crowe really the biggest asshole in Hollywood?”

3 - Some actors know how to deal with a slow-running teleprompter. Some actors think a great movie with a great score will blow…

…your mind.

2 – Jared is not the most attractive Leto. He is not the least attractive Leto. He is not the middle Leto. All Letos are equally attractive. Ridiculously attractive.

1 – There is not a single part of me that can see a single part of Goldie Hawn and not want to watch Overboard.

A Human Being is Not a Belief

Gorgeous spring day. Santa Monica. A temperate 70 degrees. The sun warm, not hot.

You spot an ice cream shop, and, though you weren’t thinking about it an instant before, it’s like a sign from the universe. There are a lot of things that could make this rare day of relaxation better, but, until you see it, you don’t realize how butter pecan in a chocolate-dipped waffle cone is at the top of that list.

Go toward it, You. Seize that ice cream.

No, stop!

You hear the cry, but a second too late. Spinning around, you see the cable snap loose from a ride on the pier. The riders are safe. You, though, you are seriously in the path of destruction. Dodging, you manage to spare yourself the worst of it, but you still feel the thick steel cut through your leg just above your knee.

Down, you go. There is no way you can walk like that. Gaping wound all the way to the bone, you are fully dependent upon others, and there are plenty of people gathering around, most to gawk, but a few brave souls do come near. Having to avert their eyes from the meatfest that is your injury, though, no one is willing to do more than dial 9-1-1.

“Out of the way,” you hear someone shout. “Let me through.”

‘Oh, thank God,’ you think, ‘it’s a doctor.’

When, at last, the man clears the crowd, though, he is not the doctor of your dreams, but the doctor of your nightmares.

“What in the hell are you doing with those?” Your gaze blurs as you look from the thick leather belt in one of his hands to the hacksaw in the other.

“I’ve seen this before,” the man says. “Dirty metal. You’re lower leg is already infected. If it spreads to your upper body, you’ll die. I’m going to stop the blood flow and take the leg off.”

Obviously, this is not the news you’d like to hear.

“Are you a doctor?” you ask with dismay.

“I believe I am,” the man responds.

“Wait. You believe you are, or you are?”

“I believe I am,” he says again, and by then you’ve lost enough blood to put a halo around the wannabe butcher and he appears Heaven-sent indeed.

“Hey, pick him up,” another voice comes suddenly your way. “My cab’s in the parking lot. Let’s get him to the hospital.”

“Do you think I’ll die before we make it?” you ask the cab driver, woozily watching the blood gush from your leg.

“Listen, Man,” the cab driver kneels down beside you, “I have no idea, but I do know there are two hospitals less than thirty blocks from here and the faster we get you to my cab, the faster I can get you there.”

With just enough wits to decide your fate, you consider the man with the saw might actually be a doctor, even as everyone gathered around points you firmly in the direction of the cabdriver.

What do you do?

It’s All in the Verbage, And Language Belongs to the Majority in Charge

It’s amazing how easy it is to make an oppressor feel oppressed. Those who feel compelled to keep others down, to maintain some sort of superiority over others, have this intriguing brain quirk that causes them to think, if they are not actively oppressing others, they themselves are being oppressed.

Equality = Unfair

I can only assume this is based in fear, a ‘kill or be killed’ mentality they feel constantly, though there is no battle.

They say things like gays are getting “special rights” by getting the right to marry.

These people don’t, of course, feel they have been given “special rights” by having the right to marry, because, as they like to argue, gay people can marry people of the opposite sex too.

Even when you explain to these people that they, too, will gain the right to marry someone of the same sex if they so desire, they still can’t wrap their head around the concept of equality. In fact, they believe others getting the exact same rights they have infringes upon their rights, regardless of the fact nothing changes for them at all.

It’s such a bizarre way of thinking, such the polar opposite of logic, I don’t try to understand it.

Right now, in the U.S., in multiple states, these oppressors are trying to “protect freedom of religion,” which I think the majority of sensible, intelligent people, Christian and non-Christian alike, can agree is not under attack.

Why wouldn’t they put a positive spin on their bigotry, though? It has, after all, worked multiple times in the past.

There is a reason the word “feminism,” which has never been a negative thing, has such negative connotations, why it has become synonymous with “man-hating,” while the word “misogyny” gets a more neutral reading, though there is no arguing the definition of the term.

There is a reason anti-abortion activists grasp at “pro-life,” though it is utterly ridiculous, because no one is anti-life or pro-abortion, and the terms “anti-choice” or “anti-abortion” would more accurately describe their side of the abortion debate.

Oppressors go after people with all their firepower with the intent of debilitating a group’s ability to advance. Then, when the group returns fire, oppressors say they are under attack. Often, a group doesn’t even need to return fire. Just taking the weapons out of oppressors’ hands makes them feel threatened. 

Everyone is Entitled to an Opinion

Really? Is everyone?

Is the plumber entitled to debate the dentist over whether to extract someone’s tooth?

Is the dentist entitled to debate the plumber over whether it’s time to replace the pipes?

Is the person who comes at you with the hacksaw entitled to the opinion he is a doctor?

There is a difference between thinking you know something and knowing you know something, though, am I right?

I don’t know. Am I?

Mental illness can make you think you know, make you think you’re not joking. It can give you a deep-down, absolute, sincere belief that you are a surgeon. It can give you absolute certainty you can fly. But you’re not, and you can’t. You are mentally ill, and, if you get the chance to act on your belief, someone is going to die.

“I hate New York City.” I have heard more than one person proclaim this. “I hate New York.”

“Why?”

“The crime. The immigrants. All the rude people.”

“You’ve been there?”

“No. I don’t have to go to know I hate it.”

Well, no, you don’t have to go to New York. No one has to go anywhere he or she doesn’t want to go. If you haven’t been, though, your opinion has about as much value as a penny in Canada. Because, while you don’t have to go to New York, you do have to go to New York to know you hate it. You can think you hate it. You can believe you will hate it. But you cannot know without stepping foot onto its streets and putting in time there.

It is impossible.

Ignorance is Arrogance, and Arrogance is Knowing

The human race is a rather curious conundrum. The same person who believes he doesn’t know how to take out his own appendix or build his own house, that knows better than to even make a suggestion because his lack of knowledge is dangerous, will believe he knows what it is to be gay. Or another race. Or another religion.

A man who doesn’t know enough about his own car to determine what needs fixed without a diagnostic test, because he is not a mechanic, that does not know enough about the internal workings of his computer to fix it, that cannot begin to understand the universe without years spent staring into the cosmos, can believe he knows the way the world, which, in his own opinion was created by an infallible god, is supposed to work.

People who do not fully understand the physics of a slinky think they can fathom the biology and spirituality and life energy of we human beings, with our minds that think such complex thoughts, our souls that feel such deep emotions, and our junk DNA, which makes up the majority of each of us with a still not-entirely-identifiable purpose. 

Straight-line evolution. Creation. The big bang of human evolution. Alien intervention. The advent of meat into the human diet. No one even knows how we humans have become what we have become. All these theories have proponents, because no one actually knows.

Understanding things that are foreign to us requires an open mind. In minds too filled with knowing, there simply isn’t room for a deeper understanding of life’s mysteries. These minds cling to what little they know – as we all know little – convincing themselves anything beyond their comprehension is simply wrong. That their wisdom is absolute. That their opinion is morality.

A human being is not an opinion.

A human being is not a belief.

A human being is a human being.

When you come at people different than you, people you do not understand, you are not fighting belief system against belief system. You are throwing your belief system at real flesh and blood people. People who bleed. People who hurt. People who cry.

Humanity and humility have the same root, because both are of this Earth, not based in some magical realm beyond it. Whether you know there is a god or you know there is no god, it’s all the same. It is the human condition not to know things beyond our comprehension, and there is no greater form of ignorance or arrogance than absolute certainty you know the unknowable.

The only true learning humanity ever experiences is through communion with each other. That is why we keep moving forward, why we have become more integrated. Because, when we go beneath our differences, not only do we see the cliche that we all do, in fact, bleed red, but we have no choice but to realize the vast majority of us want the same things – love, security, hope, passion, good health, the possibility that tomorrow will be better than today.

If you cannot see the beauty in that, the better in that, if you choose to fight on the side of maintaining our differences, of keeping the “wrong people” out, because you know they are wrong and you are right, I pity you, because your knowing has corrupted your humanity.

Quick! A man who believes he’s a doctor, and you now believe is a doctor, wants to take your leg off with hacksaw next to the Santa Monica Pier, while a hundred people tell you to go with the cabdriver to the hospital.

Belief or humanity?

One man’s conviction he is your only salvation? Or one man’s admission he knows only what he knows, the way to the hospital where there are those with certain knowledge?

If you think you know that much, give the man your leg, I guess. As for me, I will let the hands of humanity lift me, have faith in those who know they don’t know. Because, even if they are wrong sometimes, their hands are softer than the teeth of a hacksaw and they give me a 50/50 chance to stand with them again one day.

I Went to Savannah and All I Got Was This Stupid Tea

We cultivate our own happiness, don’t we? That’s what all the self-help books say – tend to the happiness within one’s self – and it must be fairly decent advice, because, if I have learned anything from this life, it’s that happiness can never be found without.

Of course, there are things in life that do make us happy. I love to write, for instance, music, when I can withstand the emotions it evokes, that one sentence in a book that always makes me choke up no matter how many times I read it – I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you. – good theater, great coffee, going 90 on tight curves in a sports car, snarky cartoon characters, and exploring this world, whether by digging through sand to see what treasures I might find from the sea or visiting an unknown place.

When cultivating happiness, we must sow the seeds as one would plant any garden, with a gentle hand upon fertile soil, providing the space and moisture and sunlight that create the conditions in which life thrives. We must not gently scatter the seeds, provide just the right amount of water to avoid root rot, drop a cement slab over the top, and proclaim, “Go ahead, impress me. Get through that, Bitch.”

While I try my best most days to be a good gardener, I admit to dropping a block on occasion. Though I’ve gone through phases in life as both optimist and pessimist, I consider myself a realist overall. I can always imagine the worst, which is good for me, because it proves a rather effective technique in making me do things that have some element of fear.

‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ I’ll ask myself, and, as the answers pour in, I come to the realization there are few things in which the worst case scenario is torture or unending pain, which means there is really little in life not worth the risk. This doesn’t mean I risk as much as I should, or that I will ever find the courage to do all that I want to do, but it does allow me a certain freedom. When I tell someone I’ll be spending two months in Turkey and Jordan, for instance, and they suck in a sharp breath and respond, “Oh, be careful,” I am able to be sympathetic to their fear, instead of being burdened by my own.

Could something terrible happen to me in Turkey or Jordan? Of course. Or in Spain. Or wherever I end up in December. Something terrible could happen to me getting into my car tomorrow to drive to the grocery store. Some of those things, however, are considerably more rewarding.

As a realist, logic says I should seldom be disappointed. With the proper soil, temperature, water and sun exposure, a realist knows the plants will grow. It’s a scientifically-supported fact. A realist also knows there are a hundred factors in play in nature that dictate how quickly and abundantly a garden develops. She should be able to envision both the best and worst yields, and settle her expectations somewhere in the vicinity of average.

Now, here is where I acknowledge my inability to be a realist at some points in time. On occasion, I scatter my seeds, throw my arms toward the sun, and declare, “This harvest is going to feed the entire world.”

Then, I drop a block.

Get through that, Bitch.

The Squares of Savannah

I have long dreamt of Savannah. Until this past week, it was the last southern city I’d yearned to visit for many years, but hadn’t made it to yet. Being a mere five hours away, and with limited time remaining in the area, it was time to just do it, make the trip and my fantasy of Savannah come to life.

‘Don’t get your hopes up. It’s just any other small southern city,’ Realist Me thought.

‘This harvest is going to feed the entire world,’ Secret Over-Optimist Me believed.

‘Based upon known data,’ Science Geek Me hypothesized, ‘Savannah could be a hybrid of New Orleans and Charleston.’  If you’ve been to Charleston or New Orleans, you might recognize this as equivalent to saying, ‘Get through that, Bitch,’ because Charleston and New Orleans are, simply put, two extraordinary places in the United States.

Now, I don’t know if my expectations were what kept me from seeing Savannah as the beautiful city I’ve heard so much about, but I’m sure they didn’t help.

While there is certainly something distinctive in the way the city is laid out around its squares of greenery, though, those lovely spots are oases in a city that feels otherwise parched. The historic street along the Savannah River has the personality of a tacky boardwalk. Asian cuisine is more readily available than southern cuisine, so the places that do serve southern staples suffer from long waits and unjustified prices. There is no spirit that embraces you when you step onto the streets, saying, ‘This is our history, this is our collective experience, this is what it feels like to be of Savannah.’

Even standing in Forsyth Park in the dark of night with few other people lurking, the spirits were nowhere to be found. It was just an, admittedly beautiful, public park with exceptional foliage. Was it worth seeing? Yes, once by day and once by night, but there was no desire to linger there, to soak up the feel of the place.

On Tuesday, we left Savannah to be in Charleston by lunchtime, where we walked to the Hominy Grill and had boiled peanuts and fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, a giant biscuit, and pecan pie.

Then, we walked the streets, and history was everywhere. I could feel those spirits, that sense of place as the ocean tide made the waters of Charleston Harbor lap at the shore. There was ample seafood and southern cooking and barbecue.

Perhaps, I expected too much of Savannah, but perhaps, just perhaps, Savannah didn’t deliver on the promise of its reputation as a southern city. There is a difference between embracing history and culture, and exploiting it. One manipulates the garden, like a mad scientist, determined to turn the yellow rose red in an effort to enhance its desirability. The other says, ‘Welcome to our garden. These are our yellow roses. Aren’t they stunning?’

To be fair, though, the tea in Savannah was not stupid. The tea at Gallery Espresso was actually the best return on my travel investment.

The Four Proposals Release

Well, I have been staring at a blank screen for some time, and I got nothin’. I am utterly tapped out on funny and clever – I do hope I left it all in the book – so, apologies, but this post will now proceed to be painfully lame.

The Four Proposals is out, though, for anyone who might be looking for it. I like to think it’s funny. I like to think it’s sexy. I like to think it’s not a sappy cheese-fest, but I know I lie to myself.

Such a war rages inside of me, you see, anti-romantic versus super-romantic. It’s a civil war that just ain’t that civil sometimes, and it plays out, to some extent, on the digital pages of this new book.

So, if you want to see love kick itself, cuddle itself, berate itself and then fall back in love with itself, this might be the book for you. Oh, and also if you like green beer, sentimental stories about old stuff, funny parental units and girls making out in saunas.

Buy on Amazon

Buy on Smashwords

The Four Proposals – The Playlist

I have been enjoying the hell out of this playlist. Super sexy AND ridiculously romantic. Ridiculously.

1 – Strut, Adam Lambert
2 – Red Blooded Woman, Kylie Minogue
3 – Let’s Get to the Love Part, Play
4 – Something Beautiful, Trombone Shorty
5 – Lay Your Hands On Me, Beth Hart
6 – Life is Better With You, Michael Franti & Spearhead
7 – Shiver, Jamie O’Neal
8 – Rules, Shakira
9 – Passionate Kisses, Mary Chapin Carpenter
10 – Perfect Soul, David Ford
11 – This is Love, PJ Harvey
12 – These Words, Natasha Bedingfield
13 – Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye (yes, I went there)
14 – I Want to Do Everything for You, Janiva Magness
15 – I’m In, The Kinleys
16 – I’ll Cover You, Wilson Jermaine Heredia & Jesse L. Martin
17 – Let Time Go Lightly, Harry Chapin

The Four Proposals – An Excerpt

The Four Proposals, sequel to The Wish List, comes out February 11th. Minor spoilers within for anyone who hasn’t read The Wish List.

And now, an excerpt from the opening scene.

*****

Pale yellow lace, tinted just past cream, was all Kelsie’s brain could process. Except, of course, for the skin, soft peach, that strained against the fabric like it wanted to come out and play.

Then, there were Laken’s eyes, glancing up in surprise, glowing near-feline to match the fabric that so exquisitely, but so spottily, concealed her.

Gaze taking the path of least resistance down Laken’s neck to her heaving chest, over the plane of Laken’s stomach to the matching panties that barely hid those places her eyes sought on instinct, Kelsie began to minutely quake and considered her last thought might very well be that she would never think again.

When she walked into the room, she did so with a purpose, she vaguely recollected that. The malfunction of her brain’s wiring, though, was instantaneous. Finally recognizing her mouth hung open and forcing it closed was difficult enough. She wasn’t about to pull up any data that wasn’t utterly essential to basic functioning.

“Hey,” Laken was slightly breathless as she turned away, giving Kelsie the new perspective of pale yellow clinging to the curves of her flexing backside as she reached, rather disappointingly, for the shirt waiting at the edge of Kelsie’s bed. “Sorry. I just decided it’s too cold to wear my skirt, and I found the clothes I’d left here.”

Watching Laken’s skin vanish as she whisked the button-up over her shoulders, Kelsie’s brain went to generator, wanting desperately to function, though it was still slow to make sense with the long expanse of leg jutting from beneath the hem of Laken’s shirt to impede its operation. “That’s too bad.” Her brain, thankfully, reminded her to breathe. “I thought maybe it was an impromptu striptease.”

“Oh,” Laken paused mid-button, eyes dipping blue to match the shirt, as a grin Kelsie recognized as dangerous appeared on her lips. “Why didn’t you just say so?” she slipped the button free, and Kelsie remembered why there was danger.

Laken needed no weapons, no training, no surprise kung fu to render Kelsie utterly defenseless. Her hands sliding up to undo the next to last button, and the button before that, so the blue shirt fell open around her, Kelsie’s heart stopped at Laken’s will, before giving her ribcage a rather aggressive punch.

With one crooked finger, Laken beckoned her forward, and Kelsie went, all thoughts and notions of the rest of the world, and the cause, floating from her mind as it focused intently on the one thing in her bedroom she wanted. Hoping her smile didn’t appear as ridiculously wide as it felt on her face, Kelsie let her hands find their way beneath the fabric of Laken’s shirt, sighing at the feel of Laken’s skin beneath her fingertips and Laken’s hands tangling in her hair to coax her forward until their lips melded in a kiss that stole what breath Kelsie had left and made her willing to sacrifice her last to whatever awaited them just on the other side of mutual surrender.

Hands leaving her hair and skimming her upper back to land upon her shoulders, they pressed Kelsie down against the edge of the bed, and the lava churned in Kelsie’s core as Laken slid the shirt down her arms and tossed it at the head of the bed to stand before her like an everyday goddess.

Her sides flexing as she stalked nearer, Laken dropped down before Kelsie, suddenly on the other side of worship, pressing in so close her ornately-concealed breasts dragged up Kelsie’s body from knee to chest as Laken rose in an impressively fluid motion.

Watching the top edge of Laken’s bra roll downward as the strap fell from her shoulder, it felt like considerably more than it was, and when Laken’s face came within a quarter-inch of her own, soft breath blowing against Kelsie’s lips, Kelsie tilted wantonly forward, but Laken shifted away in an instant, the heel of one hand pressing into Kelsie’s shoulder as the other held a firm finger against her lips.

“No kissing,” she scolded, urging Kelsie backward on the mattress until her feet left the floor and her legs dangled free, knees crooked over the edge of the bed.

Laken’s knee sliding up by her hip, her arms slipped over Kelsie’s shoulders as her other leg skimmed Kelsie’s outer thigh, until, lowering down an instant later, Laken straddled her lap. Eyes closing at the instant, overwhelming heat trapped between their bodies, Kelsie was sure she would be forever branded. When she reached for Laken, though, desperate to bring her closer, her hands were caught before they could find fulfillment.

“No touching,” Laken said, and Kelsie’s eyes blinked open in dissent.

“You are not serious.”

But Laken didn’t restate her conviction. She simply pushed Kelsie’s arms to her sides, where she clearly expected them to stay, and raised a seductively gentle hand to cradle the back of Kelsie’s head as her upper body arched until the yellow lace Kelsie had so blatantly admired upon her entrance into the room brushed her cheek and she huffed a breath of deliciously wicked frustration against Laken’s milli-close skin.

When Laken slid away again, Kelsie’s hands twitched up from the bed to draw her back, but Laken returned to her on her own, the warm curve of her backside pressing into Kelsie’s lap. Entire body pulsing with instant, acute need, Kelsie wondered where exactly Laken had been keeping this side of herself. While she knew there were plenty of things yet to discover about her recently officially-declared girlfriend, it had never even occurred to her the good doctor, normally so in control, might be harboring a secret vixen.

Of course, it could be fairly said that Laken was still in control, because Kelsie certainly wasn’t. Trying to remind herself she was an adult, capable of restraining her hormone-induced reactions, she made the effort to do just that, fingers going white where they buried themselves in the comforter to heed Laken’s directive.

“Okay, touch me,” Laken negated her struggle in an instant.

“I thought I wasn’t allowed to touch,” Kelsie tried to give as good as she was getting, but her hands were already in motion, more than ready to meet any invitation given them.

“Please, touch me,” Laken rasped as Kelsie’s fingertips made contact with the overheated skin at her waist, and a ragged exhalation escaped Laken’s lips as her hips circled in Kelsie’s overworked lap.

“Where did you learn this?” Kelsie’s lips brushed Laken’s ear, in immediate proximity where Laken leaned back against her, head on Kelsie’s shoulder, hand snaking up to wrap around the back of Kelsie’s neck to keep her close.

“I’ve been to my share of strip clubs,” Laken gasped as Kelsie’s nails scratched across her abdomen, raising goosebumps in their wake.

“Have you now?” Kelsie questioned, but the proof was in the technique, undeniably picked up from experts in a professional environment.

“Yeah…” Laken barely managed as Kelsie’s fingertips dragged upward over her ribcage,  and, for some reason, the knowledge surprised Kelsie to no end.

Testing their boundaries at the bottom of Laken’s bra, Kelsie slipped beyond them when she realized there was nothing stopping her but herself. At the weight of Laken’s breasts, new and satisfying in her hands, and the responding catch of Laken’s breath, she lost herself to utter carnality for a moment, wanting nothing more than to rip what little remained of Laken’s clothing from her body and make first contact with the skin beneath. Knowing Laken had been about to say more, though, and wanting to know all there was to know, Kelsie took a much-needed breath and let her hands fall back to Laken’s stomach.

“Forrest thought it was a good way to bond,” Laken informed her a moment later, words considerably less composed than those that came before them.

“Did he?” For her part, Kelsie barely knew what conversation they were having.

“That’s what he said,” Laken struggled helplessly to draw breath. “I think he just liked having a lez sister who could get him past velvet ropes and would buy him beer.”

“Can’t blame him for that,” Kelsie nearly growled, hands smoothing down Laken’s skin until her fingers brushed the waistband of pale yellow panties, tensing when they wanted so much to go further. “Do you always wear panties like this?”

“Only when I think I might get lucky,” Laken confessed, the hand on Kelsie’s neck threading into her hair as Laken glanced over her shoulder with eyes such deep midnight, they were almost black. “What do you think, Kels?” Her breath blew erratically across Kelsie’s needy lips. “Do you think I might get lucky?”

“I think…” Kelsie couldn’t think anything. “You, um… I, um… what?”

When the pleased smile appeared at Laken’s lips, followed by a breathy chuckle that would have weakened Kelsie’s knees had she been standing, Kelsie couldn’t care less what struck Laken so funny. She didn’t have the capacity to care about anything outside Laken’s body doing things to hers that should have been impossible while she was still fully clothed.

Whipping suddenly around, Laken’s hair smacked her lightly in the face, intentionally, Kelsie suspected, and then there were Laken’s breasts again, pushing against the fabric of her bra, and Kelsie pitched forward to press her lips to the skin, hands clutching Laken’s back to hold her in place when she was almost sent flailing from her lap.

Before Kelsie could further explore the uncharted terrain, Laken dragged her mouth from its desirable position, hands on Kelsie’s cheeks yanking her head sharply up, and Laken’s lips were against hers, stealing her ability to ever want anyone else again.

The Power of the Spoken Word

All my favorite books read well aloud. I like sentences that find their own distinctive rhythms, while maintaining the cadence of the stories in which they are written. I despise long blocks of back-and-forth dialogue with no references as to who is speaking. I actually like adverbs. Most of the time.

I appreciate writing that rolls off the tongue, that sounds fluid. I try to write that way. I don’t know that I always succeed, but I do put forth my best effort.

Spoken word artists have my utmost respect. It is such an incredible skill, so modern, yet so ancient in its tradition, and something I would love to find the courage to do one day.

Recently, I stumbled upon a spoken word piece that absolutely floored me, and it flashed me back to Noah St. John’s performance on The Fosters in the first half of the season.

When it’s good, spoken word is so incredibly good.

So, here’s Noah St. John on the Fosters -

And this one that recently put a spell on me by Marshall Davis Jones -