Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A violin render I did today. The violin was modeled in Maya as was the table and stuffs.

Monday, April 27, 2009

new pic :)

I don't know who he is yet. I made him for His and His Kisses, but I don't know if they'll like him or not.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


So :)

I'm chatting at one of my publisher's lists today...

I'm on from 6-7 CST.. which .. means I'm there until they tell me I have to leave :)

For everyone who comes to the chat, makes at least one comment, and follows my blog at

I will have a drawing tomorrow morning, for a golden ticket to see Toshiro... which means a custom story given to the winner, that they can do what they please with. I won't publish that story with Tosh and the winner can have as much or as little customization as they'd like.


PS.. Tosh is the courtesan from Knowing Curves

Monday, April 13, 2009

one of my books

So one of my books has been targeted in the whatever mayhem that was happening over at Amazon over the weekend.  I've lost my sales ranking and I don't show up in the search any more.

My publisher got me the link back though:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mark and Luke 1

Protecting Charlie
by Jewls Winter
copyright 2008
all rights reserved

The Beginning

"You think I've always been a barista," Luke asked, grinning crookedly. It was the sunlight that tinted red to gold. Maybe it was the end of winter that made smiling easier, made the morning seem so easy, but he was pretty sure it was the cop who came to get his coffee. This cop wasn't just any cop either. He had Irish red hair and Luke was sure it hadn't been mixed with any blood, but that of the fairies. The man was beautiful. It could have been the dead of winter in Seattle and that slight, reluctant smile would have made fluttery shivers lift a person off the floor and the sun pour down. Luke grinned, caught up the shot of espresso and winked, "I have not always been a good boy. I can be quite wicked."

"I don't think I believe you," Mark Thomas said, dressed politely in a dark gray suit, corporately polite for a Seattle detective.  He leaned a little closer, just very slightly, so slight he might not even have been aware of it. "I thought all blonds were angels."

Jackie, the other barista, over shot the target cup, spilling milk on the counter. Luke ignored her, mischief sparking in green eyes. Jackie went to look for a towel in the back and it was late enough in the morning that there weren't people in line. That was good, because Luke wasn't sure he would have cared.  "Yeah? I'm a suicide blond though. I'm no angel. I think you're an elf, you know? Do you think elfs like movies?" Throat tight, Luke shook the whipped cream dispenser, he wondered why in the hell he was asking out a cop. Things had changed a lot. "Like, say this Friday?"

"I'm working Friday," Mark said, pulling his cell phone out, blue eyes flicking over whatever information was there.

For Luke Mark's reaction threatened spring with conversion to the Arctic. "Yeah, well, we've just been talking like for the last year and I just, you know, didn't mean to get out of line."

Mark flipped his phone closed, red eyebrows drawing down a little. "No, it's not like that. I would like a movie. We have been talking a long time, and well, I hate to think of a cute boy like you being alone on a Friday, but I'd hate it more if you were out with someone else. I don't have any urgent cases right now. How about Saturday afternoon? I have to work that evening, but earlier in the day. Lunch and a movie?"

Luke rocked up on the balls of his feet, grinning stupidly.  Mark wasn't like any cop Luke had ever known. He couldn't even see his handcuffs. Not that he didn't want to, but right circumstances were really important in that kind of stuff. "That sounds great. Say, maybe eleven?"

"You don't work or anything?" Mark asked, stirring his whipped cream into his coffee before capping it.

"Nope," Luke said, honestly not knowing. He'd get someone to cover him or make it up somehow. He was not going to be working at eleven o'clock on Saturday. "I'll be off."

After another moment where neither of them said anything, just kind of grinned at each other, Mark said,  "I guess I should go." Sipping his coffee, he didn't make any progress towards the door.  "Oh, let me give you my phone number!"

Luke blushed, wiping his hands and fumbling for a notepad. "Yeah. I'll give you mine too, and my email address. God, I think I know you so well, but I don't really know anything."

"Second thoughts?" Mark asked as he handed his business card over. "I don't know how bad of a boy you've been. Should I check for warrants?"

"No," Luke said, a little too enthusiastically. "There aren't any warrants out for me. Not even any traffic tickets. No second thoughts either, it's just, well," he said, voice mumbling off into nothing as he wrote out his email address, number, and name.

Luke shoved his thumbs into his jeans pockets, feeling shifty and guilty. "Won't be a problem, you know, if I had a record?"
"What kind of record? Are you a registered sex offender," Mark asked, casual, matter-of-factly.

"No, no, nothing like that," Luke said, eyes on the floor now.

"Hey." Mark's voice was really close. "Look at me."

Luke did, looking up to find blue eyes looking deeply into his. Smooth fingertips touched his cheek, drawing spring back into being. "Then I don't care, alright? Whatever it was it's in the past. Are you positive?"

"No, no," Luke said, eyes drifting towards the floor again, but Mark's hand caught him, drawing his chin back up. "I'm not. You?"

"I'm negative, and a virgin, just so you know," Mark said, grinning like the cat with the canary behind clean white teeth. "Anything you want to know about me before eleven o'clock on Saturday?"

"Uh," Luke fluttered, a little blond canary in Mark's hand. "Like I can think now, uh? I'm not a virgin, if that matters, but I'm clean."

"I'd still," Mark said, leaning closer to almost touch the tip of his nose to Luke's, "be interested even if you weren't."

Luke wasn't sure he could still breath. Mark's touch left marks on him, like light streaking across his soul. "Okay."

Mark pulled back then, taking his coffee and with a wink he was gone, striding out the door, tall and heroic. Luke's stomach burned with neon butterflies. He was still standing there, looking at the door when Jackie came back in and snapped at towel on his ass.

"Wake up, Cinderella! I'll work your shift on Saturday, but you're gonna owe me like millions."

"Okay," he said, mind still not working. That had gone better than he could have imagined.  Months of light flirting had caught fire and there were fireworks. He kept telling himself that fireworks hurt people, but caution had never really been one of his good traits.


Luke opened his eye a little wider, gliding the mascara slowly up, making sure that his lashes stayed separate.  Just lunch had nothing to do with how much he wanted Mark to be interested in him.  Mark had actually called him on Thursday, just to confirm, and Luke had nearly exploded. At least it had felt like that.  Staring in the full length mirror, all he could do was hope. Shorter than he would have liked, at five foot and five inches tall, he thought he could hide that as long as the taller Mark wasn't completely close to him. Not that he wanted to Mark at a distance either. Mark was going to notice.

"You look fine," Rachel said, around a mouth of cereal. "You look like an Abercrombie and Fitch model.  I guess you're okay with that, or you won't have given them so much money."

Luke sighed, hips shifting to the side, playing up all the best features of the curve kissing pale jeans, the thin black tee-shirt. Green eyes stood out, vivid and soulful,  with just enough liner and mascara. "I don't look too girly?"

Rachel laughed. "Little brother, you look like you could catch flame any moment. You are so flaming. What shoes are you wearing?"

Giggling nervously, Luke brushed blond waves back behind one ear, "I'm not that flaming! Am I? You think it's too much?" He turned back to the mirror, the side of his lower lip between his teeth. "He is kind of straight looking. It took me two months to realize he was gay!"

"He's a cop," Rachel said, now sitting lotus style on Luke's futon. "Mom would be proud of you, you know? You've done really great."

One arm went over his head, kind of protectively, lower lip between his teeth again, green eyes watching his sister with a vulnerable seriousness. "You really think so?"

"Yup. Lu… pretty gay boy dating a suit wearing cop, same job for three years, a couple of books out that you actually get paid for," said, slurping milk from her bowl, "Or armed robber now doing twenty to life? Yeah, Lu, you done great. Most people never get those kind of mistakes unfucked, you know?"

"Thanks," he said, voice low. "We're not really dating. It's just a movie."

"You want to wear my pink converse?"

Luke blew air into his cheeks, eyes looking to the side. "I think I'll wear my black leathers."

"Suit yourself," she said comfortably. "I bet you come home with a cherry on a chain."

"Damn! Don't you tell him I told you about that!" Luke grabbed his shoes with one hand, his sun glasses with the other and ran after his sister. "Hey, promise me!"

She caught him coming out of his room, palming him in the forehead, bowl held out to the side. Fake indignation in her voice, "Far be it from me to embarrass a cop about his cherry or his taste in cute blond gay boys!"

"Hey!" Luke snarled, wrinkling his nose. "What about embarrassing me?"

She snorted, hugging him as he tired to get his shoes on. "You are beyond hope. So no loss there."

"You are such a bitch!" He complained cheerfully, leaning against her as he put his shoes on. "When I have kids, I'm gonna teach them to call you Auntie B!"

"Just you do that," she said, smug. "Luke, you know, adopting is not going to be that easy."

He twisted his foot, making sure his foot was right in the shoe, then pulled his black shades down over his face, unconsciously posing. "Easy is for wimps. Do I look like a wimp to you?"

"No," she said, smiling, "But again with the almost catching fire! Get out of my apartment, Oscar!"

"Actually," he said nose in the air, as if it were brand new information, "The condo is in my name, thank you. See you when I get back!"  Wallet in his pocket, small Japanese make phone dangling like a pocket watch from his belt, he half ran out the door, down the stairs. Five minutes till eleven, and he was sure it was going to be a perfect day.


The sky had forgotten that Luke was in a good mood. The rain was light and gray, but it kept him behind the glass door.  Asking what kind of car, Mark drove probably would have been a good idea.  The butterflies in his stomach were steel, paper thin, and really active, fluttering around, swearing that he was going to get stood up.  Beautiful red headed cops did not date bleach blonde convicted felons. No. Didn't.

Maybe the mascara was too much. Maybe he should have… and then there was a smear of black, sharp and the door was opening. There was his red headed cop, who hadn't stood him up, holding a big black umbrella, wearing a white shirt, open at the collar and perfect black slacks. Luke grinned, wishing he could think up some un-sexy thought to prevent any hard to explain lines to his outfit.  "You came!"

Mark smiled, smaller, shy, a bit of color flashing over his cheeks as he held out his arm. "Well, I haven't yet. I was saving that for later."

"Ha!" Luke said, taking Mark's arm, hooking his around it, just like some fairytale. "I don't want to get thrown out of the theater."

"Definitely not," Mark said guiding Luke around the corner, where a white horse and a polished brass and black carriage waited, "I just wanted to make sure of where we stood, what has and hasn't happened yet.  I hope you don't mind." Mark opened the door to the carriage.

"Wow," Luke said, climbing up into the carriage, finding a very nicely wrapped pair of truffles on the far seat. "Just wow. Mark. This is a lot."

Mark followed, after he closed the umbrella. "I just wanted to make sure you didn't run away when I ask if I can tie you up."

Blush can evaporate rain if it's hot enough. "Like I would. I'm not sure I'm not dreaming."

"You're not," Mark said, as the horse started forward, hooves loud and distinct against the pavement. "I have a confession to make."

"You're a registered sex offender," Luke asked nervous, fingering the chocolate.

"No!" Mark said, rolling his eyes, shifting to turn a bit. "No, but I have kind of being stalking you."

"You liked me so you kept coming back to the shop?" Luke sniffed the truffle, wondering if it was just a chocolate or a really fancy truffle.

"I know what you write," Mark confessed, "and I still don't like coffee."

"What? Why do you," Luke asked, eyes growing wider. "You read my books?"

"I do," Mark said, eyes on the carriage floor, hands between his knees. "I looked for you, after I read your books."

"I'm not Dom," Luke said, just getting it out in the open now. "Why didn't you say something?"

"I," Mark said, turning to look, letting his heart show, "I'm not a sub, but I'm a little shy. I had to know you were the right Luke Wells.  I needed to know you were single. I had to know more about you than just what you wrote, and I wanted to see if you liked me. I want to know you better.  I want you to give me a chance to be your Dom."

"Upfront," Luke said, offering one of the truffles to Mark. "A stallion on a leash doesn't get you a free ride."

"Oh my," Mark whispered. "No. Just a movie today. Just a movie for a month, or a year. I just wanted to be clear."

Luke popped the remaining chocolate into his mouth whole, slowly, deliberately sexy, teasing, then laid both wrists over his head and watched the rain outside the carriage. Silence fell between them, electric possibility doing it's best to bridge. "Did you bring me a collar?"

"I thought that would be presumptuous,"  Mark said. "Have I made you angry?"

"No," Luke replied, tilting his head back. "I want you to buy me a collar. No movie. I want to have sex."

It took a full five seconds for Mark's jaw to drop, like paint slowly sliding down a canvas, shock just slipped over him. "Now?"

"Well, not in the carriage," Luke said, turning, one bent knee coming up on the seat. "Life is short. I want you. You want me. We're both clean. You don't know the chocolate until you eat it. Buy me a collar?"

"What kind?" Mark said, cautiously reaching out to touch Luke's hand, slipping his hand over Luke's, as stealthy as he could.

"Something I can wear all the time. You can't taste anyone else while you're tasting me and I won't taste anyone else either. You'll be my Dom and I'll make you something other than coffee from now on."

Mark swallowed slowly, then lifted Luke's hand to his lips, kissing the knuckles. "Okay, no tasting other chocolates. Where do I buy the collar?"

"There's a shop just past the convention center," Luke said. Those steel butterflies were now all soft leather and buckles. "You can also buy some restraints and a butt plug. You're my Dom, but I'll want to fuck you too. Will you be okay with that?"

"As long as I get to stay in charge," Mark said, licking his lips. "Do they sell condoms?"

The driver coughed loudly, educationally.

Luke wrinkled his nose at the driver's back. "I'm sure they do."  It was okay. Condoms were not the greatest, but it was one thing to know he was clean, another to really trust that. Sex didn't run out. Health could. "Lube too. We're going to need that. You're going to fuck me today."

From blush to pale as the Seattle sun, but the intensity of Mark's emotions made him seem genuine to Luke, honest, vulnerable even. "Okay, but Luke. I don't really know what I'm doing. I wasn't lying when I said I was a virgin. I just… I didn't realize I was gay until I read your books."

"Maybe you're not gay," Luke said, one hand reaching out to brush a finger tip over Mark's lip. "Maybe you're Luke-sexual."

Laughing shyly, Mark kissed Luke's finger. "Maybe. So, why are you single?"

"Uh," Luke said, "Well."  He was single because he…. "Mark, I don't know why. I had some troubles and liking you just built up so long that I couldn't help myself."

"See? My plan worked!" Mark laughed.

The carriage was coming to a stop, in front of the movie theater.  "Wait here. I'll get a taxi," Mark said, smiling, as he already was out with the umbrella.  A couple of minutes later, he was back, opening the side door where Luke was, holding the umbrella for him, so he could cross to the taxi.  Luke smiled up at his date as he shifted over in the back seat of the taxi. A red headed, devoted, hot, Dom, with hand cuffs… he didn't want the cherry so much as he wanted the heart, on a chain.

Mark slipped in as well. "We want to go just past the convention center. I'll let you know when to stop."

The driver nodded and pulled out into traffic.

"I promised you lunch too. What would you like?"

"The desk scene from 'Office Mate'?" Luke teased, watching Mark blush again. "Some room service might be okay."

Mark had evidently read 'Office Mate' and lost his voice over a desk somewhere, as he just nodded.  Luke liked this. "We're going to Toyland," he said, "My new Master is going to buy me a pretty collar today."

Mark groaned, moving the umbrella between his knees as if that were going to help at all.

"Congratulations," the cabdriver said, accent thick, but good will evident. "It is always good to find what you're looking for. Six dollars please."

Mark paid up, face as red as his hair.  The rain had stopped, leaving a watery spring around them.

"Hey," Luke said, "There's something else I gotta tell you."

"Unusual fetish?" Mark said, trying to tease back.

"Well, no," Luke said, "I want kids. At least one. I want a kid, to be a parent."

Mark's smile brightened. "God, I hope we work out. I'm going to be broken hearted if we don't."

"Wah!" Luke said, brushing past into the shop.

It was a lovely shop, classy and clean. Beautiful glass dildos, beautiful vibrators in all colors and shapes on display to be played with, the shop was a wonderful toyland. There was nothing reserved about the shop, nothing held back. That was the way to live. "I read this essay, once," Luke said, moving directly to the collars, "by this writer I liked. She said, never save anything back. Give it all. Life will give you something else to write about for the next story. Put it all in. I want to live that way."

Mark nodded, looking attentive, involved, and even though he didn't say anything in return, Luke felt validated, listened to. "Velvet, vinyl, leather, or metal?"

"Velvet," Luke said, fingering them. "I'm not putting it on until you make me cum."

"That's fair," Mark agreed. "It means something though, wearing my collar. If you get tired of me, you must let me know."

"You'll be the third. First will be my sister Rachel. Then I'll know, then you. Same thing, you know. If you decide that I'm not it. This is moving awful fast," he admitted,  but couldn't find an excuse to stop. His knee didn't even hurt. It had to be a good omen.

"Maybe from your point of view. I've been planning the seduction of Luke for over a year," Mark admitted, lifting a thin velvet collar from the display. "Do you like this one? It has room for a padlock."

"Are you going to lock me up?" Luke asked, smiling. "Make me bring you breakfast naked?"

"You'll never be naked." Mark smiled, fingers passing over padlocks. "You'll always be wearing my collar."

"Good answer," the clerk said, leaning on the counter. "We have batteries, too."

"Good to know," Mark said, blushing again. "You said restraints and a butt plug?"

"Yup," Luke said. He'd never been this comfortable with anyone, except Rachel, and well, he wasn't buying toys with Rachel, not this kind of toy. "Do you have a thing for handcuffs or cuffs?"

"I kind of like rope," Mark admitted, while he looked at the leather cuffs.

"Have you ever tied anyone up?" Luke asked, stealthily getting his hand on the small of Mark's back, hinting at possible movement downwards.

"Not that wanted it," Mark admitted. "Cuffs to start with then?"

"Sounds good to me." Luke said, reaching for a roll of red bondage tape. “Actually, let's try this. It's not easy, you know, being a good Dom.”

Mark reached, laying his hand over Luke's. “Luke.”


“I will learn. It's not just,” Mark tightened his hold on Luke's hand, pulling him closer so he could slide an arm around Luke's back. “I am a patient panther of a man. I am going to be good for you, like you already have been for me. I've listened to your voice and watched you smile and seen you interact with people every working day for the last year. I want everyday with you. I want to see you in the morning and at night. I want you to know me. I have this chance to be your lover and that's what I want. The kids'll be okay too, but you have to be the primary care giver.”

“God damn,” Luke said, shocked, “Are you asking me to marry you? You haven't even kissed me. What if my teeth are bad? You're a cop. Crap. Mark, I'm not the kinda boy you'd take to the annual holiday party and be like, 'My boy's a math major.'. I write erotica and I'm a felon. I can't even vote.”

Bodies pressed together, attraction hard to ignore through jeans and slacks, Luke stared up into Mark's eyes, into a fairytale too sweet to be real.  “Don't you understand, Mark? This isn't a romance book you can buy and know it will have a happy ending.”

“Yes, it is,” Mark said, both arms holding Luke to him, voice warm against his ear. “Romance stories are just stories thought up by someone, daydreams to make a person less lonely. Life doesn't last forever, but while I'm alive, I want to do my best to make us both happy and not lonely. It's not a perfect story though. I work sixty hours a week. I've been shot three times. I lost my partner last year to a guy with a knife. I see ugly things everyday. I have nightmares. I scream sometimes, just come awake screaming. I could never be a white knight. Maybe a tattered gray knight?”

“What if I hurt you,” Luke whispered, his own arms going around Mark. “This is all something you've been thinking about, but it's new to me.”

“It's not that new. You want me,” Mark said, pulling back enough to smile.  “I'm not asking you to marry me today. I'm not scaring you off, am I?”

“The sixty hours a week,” Luke said, smirking, as he slipped open the tape with a thumbnail, “That's a little much. When are you going to have time to spank me? I am a bad boy, you know?”

“You're a thief,” Mark said, love softening his expression.

Luke froze though, eyes wide as open floodgates. “That was a long time ago.”

“I wasn't talking about the past,” Mark apologized, again reaching for Luke's hand. “I was talking about my heart.”

“Oh,” Luke said focusing on pulling out a length of red tape, shiny and thin, he caught Mark's hand and held it, lacing his fingers into Mark's. “Well, that might be the best thing I've ever stolen, but I wasn't even trying. Here,” he continued, wrapping the clingy tape around both their wrists. “One year. We'll be committed for one year, then we'll decide, okay?”

“That's wonderful,” Mark agreed, laughing gleefully. “Now I get to kiss the boy?”

“I dare you,” Luke whispered, letting his fears go, jumping straight forward into the future.

Mark slipped his fingers into Luke's hair, slow and gentle, until he got to the back, when he took a gentle fistful of blond hair. As Luke tried to look down at the floor, Mark pulled him back up, locking their eyes. “One year,” Mark agreed,  holding Luke pinned with their bound wrists and his hand in Luke's hair. His lips trembled against Luke's, soft and warm, and frightened. Intensifying pressure made them feel hotter.  A soft bite and Mark forced his tongue past Luke's lips, to press against smooth teeth.  The grip in Luke's hair tightened, becoming almost painful and Luke moaned softly, opening his mouth for the clean, hard tongue that dove right in, filling and demanding, stealing Luke's breath. Now he was the one shivering as, the kiss shifted. Mark's hand pulled his head to the side, holding him tight as the kiss took his throat, biting, sucking, demanding, accepting no refusal, and yet echoing back all the need and hunger they both felt.

Submission, the secret twilight lavender of passion, melted through Luke, and he relaxed into Mark's hold, soaking in the scent of the taller man, his warmth. Trembling, he pressed forward against his cop. Where could there be fear in such an offer? “Hotel now?”

“Yes,” Mark agreed, voice thick and breathy in his ear. “I marked you though. Absolutely mine, for one year.”

“We'll talk about terms,” Luke said, moving towards the counter. “Oh a butt plug. Your virgin ass is going to need one before I fuck you.”

The girl at the counter was watching them both intently, hearts in her eyes. “Hi Luke. Who's the new boy?”

“New boy,” Mark asked.

Luke could feel Mark watching him, but smirked. “You're just new in here. I've never brought anyone else here. Are you the jealous type?” The smirk had turned a little more serious.

“Maybe,” Mark said, pulling his wallet out with his unbound hand. “Maybe just of you.”

“You know he's signing books here on Wednesday evening? There will be coo'ing fans.”

Mark stepped close enough to touch his shoulder Luke's. “He might  need a bodyguard.”

“I might,” Luke admitted, paying for the red tape on his own.

Mark's phone rang, a professional ring that probably not been changed from the default. With his free hand, he pulled it from his waist, “Thomas.  Damn. About twenty minutes. No problem.”

Luke looked at the ceiling, lips tight. He hadn't been ready for more than just a movie and some flirting, not really, but now that he had it, it was as if he'd always wanted it.  If Mark walked out the door, maybe that would be it.  Words didn't mean anything in the long run. He wrote about love because he was pretty sure that was the only way he was going to have anything even close to love. Knee suddenly tight and painful, he stepped a little farther away as he peeled the tape from their wrists.

Mark put the phone back on his waist and caught Luke's hand, holding the tape in place, “I meant everything I said. Dinner? Let me take you to dinner? It might be a short dinner, but I'll come get you?”

Luke wanted to believe. He shifted his weight off his knee as he studied Mark. “Dinner. Sex tonight?”

Mark grinned, picking up the collar and carefully putting into his pocket.  “As soon as possible! Here, I do have a gift for you though.”

“A gift,” Luke asked, his mind filled with all the things that could go wrong with  a felon and a cop. He'd loved only once and the worst kind of betrayal was when one did it one's self, crossing the line and pushing back, destroying both life and love.

“Yeah.” From his pocket Mark pulled a new silver key on a keychain shaped like a small pair of handcuffs. “So a year from now I'll either change the locks or we'll renew for life?”

“You're giving me a key to your apartment?” He wanted to scream that he was a burglar, but that was… years ago. “I don't even know where you live.”

“Address is on the key. I have to go. Dead people don't like to wait.” He pocketed his credit card again, winked. “Luke, don't be scared, okay? I don't care about your past. I only care about the future. We could have a safe word, for the whole relationship. A word to cool things down for a little?”

“I'll think about one,” Luke said, his mood going sour as the thought of a sexy afternoon date turned into nothing except promises. Labels lied. Maybe sex would have made it feel real. At least then he'd know he'd done something Mark actually appreciated.

Other than the collar, Mark handed Luke the bag of their purchases then half dragged the blond out into the street, away from the clerk's watchful eyes. “Luke, I'm sorry I can't stay. I'm going to give you a task to do though, as my submissive. I want you to go to my apartment, use my computer. Write a story, something blazing hot, then lay in my bed and leave cum everywhere. I'll come home for dinner. I want to find you waiting for me.”

Excitement flickered back to life. “Alright. You better not disappoint me, or I will write your fine ass into a story like no other.”

“Deal!” Mark grinned, flagging down a cab. “Wait for me. Don't leave until I get there.”

Neither of them noticed the dark haired woman watching them, leaning against the building in the shadows, talking on her headset. There was no logical reason for either of them to notice her.


"How did it go, your date?" Fa asked, as Mark picked up a folder from his desk.

"It went fantastic," Mark grinned. "I think I just got married."

He and Fa had been partners since his last partner's death. He hadn’t exactly been an ideal partner, but Fa had his moments too.

"You homosexuals are like rabbits. If you had to worry about having kids it won't be so fast for you." Fa crossed his arms, dark eyes watching Mark disapprovingly. "Has he even met your parents? Do his parents approve?"

"Yeah, I think it works a little differently than that. We're gonna have kids. You just wait and see. You called me in for this? You could have just asked me how it was going with Luke. This is a cold case. These people have been dead for six years. I remember the case though."

"I thought you would. Remember the kid? About a year old?"

"Little boy, Charlie Watkins," Mark said one knee on Fa's desk, a wrist resting on his knee. "How is the kid?"

"He's sitting in the Captain's office. Someone tried to kill him today. Possibly the same people who killed his fathers."

"Shit," Mark said, standing up properly. "We need to catch those bastards."

"They killed his therapist today. Strangled her, put her admin in intensive care."

"Why? The kid can't possibly remember anything," Mark said, now really pulling up all the details of the case. At the time he'd suspected someone powerful of the killings, with a hate motivation. The victims had been a writer of homosexual scene literature and his doctor husband, well, as close as one got when the law didn't recognize a person's natural rights. They'd moved in wealthy circles, museums, politics, and things. There had been no sign of forced entry. Along with desecration of the bodies, awards and bits of social meaning had been defiled. The killer had taken hours, burned books and written hateful things on walls. The kid had been home, but hiding. Mark had spent hours just sitting with the kid to get him to come out. "Where is he?"

"Like I said," Fa complained, taking his folder back, "Captain's office. I don't know what they're going to do with him. The foster family won't take him back. Can't place him with another. It's too dangerous."

"I'll take him," Mark said, before he'd even thought about it. "Whatever we do, we'll make sure he's safe."

Mark patted Fa on the shoulder as he walked towards the captain's office.  Maybe this life was just too much to bring Luke into. The walk to his Captain's office was short, but by the time he'd reached the office, the connection between a murdered writer of homosexual scene lit and a writer of homosexual romance was too close for comfort. He was going to get Luke killed. That was something he'd have to take care of, but when he walked through the door to his captain's office, all he could see was a scared little boy.

"Hey there," he said, squatting down as the boy ran to him. "Charlie, I have you. Don't worry. We're going to catch the bad guys."

"'Ou promise," he asked, voice all stuffed up from crying. "Promise?"

"I promise," he said, holding the crying little boy in his arms. "I promise to take care of you."

"Aren't you the maternal one," his captain growled. "The kid picked a picture out for us."

"Who is it?" Mark asked, trying to keep the anger out of his voice.

His captain picked up a framed photo from his desk and handed it, still face down. "Third from the right."

The photo had been taken at the annual police ball, the previous year. There was the Captain's wife, the Mayor's wife, the mayor's son, the mayor, and then the captain. Mark's breath dropped like lead. "Ideas?"

"Not any good ones," the captain said, leaning back in his chair. "I'm checking to see if we can get the kid into the witness protection program.

"Stay with Mark Mark," Charlie said, arms around Mark's neck.

"Why don't we go with that then," the Captain said. "You take the kid with you. Take him to dinner somewhere private. Make sure he's safe. We could put him in Juvenile hall for a while."

Whatever reservations Mark had evaporated with that. He'd call Luke, tell him that they got carried away. It was just a first date, after all, the man couldn't be that involved. Angry, but not heartbroken, and very much alive, that was something Mark could live with. "I'll take him with me. I have a place I can stay that's not my apartment. I haven't been to the house in a while, but it's secure."

Running from criminals made him angry too, roiled in his soul like a cancer forming, but there were things he could do right now and things he couldn't do. Protecting Charlie was something he could do. Arresting the mayor's son without enough evidence was something he couldn't do.

"The foster parents sent over a backpack full of clothes and toys." Apology in his voice, the captain grabbed the bag and held it out as he opened the door. "I'll let you know tomorrow about the program. He'll be safe, then we can go after the bad guy, you understand?"

"I understand, Captain," Mark said. "Call me when you know something. Fa! Get me a booster seat, will you?"

"Married and a kid all in one day," Fa teased. "You've heard the joke about Lesbian second dates?"

Mark wrinkled his nose. "You've heard the one about the cop who didn't keep his mouth clean in front of kids?"

"Such a vanilla," Fa complained, motioning for them out, a booster seat under his arm. "Someday I'm going to have kids. You and my wife are gonna get along great."

Mark winked conspiratorially at Charlie, who was still clinging to him, then to Fa, as the elevator carried them down, "You mean we'll both think you're a loud mouth jerk?"

"Yeah," Fa said, grinning, "Pretty much. You can be a bride's maid."

"You have to find someone willing first," Mark pointed out.

"Why didn't I get invited to your marriage? This is the guy you've been talking about for a year, yeah?"

"Yeah, that's the one," Mark said, beeping his car unlocked, "Back seat, passenger side. It was very spur of the moment, but it isn't going to matter. I have too much to do to have a spouse, of any kind."

"That's bu-aloney," Fa said, hands on his hips. "I've never known you to be a f, er ducking coward."

"It's not cowardice to do what's right for someone." Mark fastened Charlie into the booster seat, then fished around in the bag for some kind of bear. He found a worn green bunny and handed that to the upset boy. "Don't worry. We're going to get some pizza. Do you like pizza?"

Charlie nodded, dark brown eyes red around the edges from crying. "And tofu."

Mark's face must have dropped because Charlie started laughing. "You're cute," Mark said, "We can get some tofu too."

"Tofu is yucky!" Charlie said gleefully.

Mark understood how truth could be so far away for a child, even if it didn't make it go that far away.  There were still pockets of not far enough away in Mark's mind.  He wanted to make sure that Charlie had all the help he could so that those ghosts won't linger.  The world had moments of being a really great place, like this one afternoon with Luke. Charlie needed lots of great days as he grew up, not just one afternoon and a demanding job.

"Mark," Fa called from where he held the elevator. "You okay? Don't do anything rash, right?"

Fa, even though he wore his own masks, was perceptive and caring, a good friend who would listen.  "I'm okay," Mark assured him, "I just have to focus on what's important."

"Love is important," Fa pointed out.

"Not more important than breathing," Mark said, closing the door on Fa.


Attraction blooming into love was improbable.  The apartment was on the ground floor, which Luke was very happy about. Stairs were not his friend. He held the key, his thumb running lightly along the ridge.  Entering some unknown domain, seeing things that belonged to other people, picking and choosing, the addiction to that still slithered around in his blood. It was not burglary though, if a cute cop gave you a key. Mark was cute though. Luke smiled, stroked the key slowly. He could leave. He could just get a new job, or even just stay home and write full time. It wasn't like Mark would really stalk him.

Chewing on his lip, the butterflies in his belly wanted into that apartment. They wanted to be there when Mark got home, wanted to smile at him, wanted to do just what he'd been told to do, write a story and masturbate. Everything moved so fast though. Everything. He'd committed to a year, but commitments were like promises. The key slid so perfectly into the lock though, smooth and well oiled.

Smirking, being the erotica writer he was, he pulled the key back out, then slowly back in, before laughing and just opening the door. Commitments could be broken later. He just didn't want to do it right now.

Cleaning supplies was not what Luke had expected to be greeted by, but there it was, a bit antiseptic, a little bit orange.  The place was spotless. Luke closed the door, turned the deadbolt.  The living room and kitchen could have been a show room for renting apartments. Luke toed his shoes off by the door and meandered off through the apartment.

The bathroom looked showroom too, until one counted that some of the bottles of shampoo were really bottles of oil and the industrial strength handrails that would be perfect for bondage. Opening the medicine cabinet, he found a very clean razor, neat bottles of pills, the labels all, facing to the front. Among them was a bottle of sertraline which made Luke pause. Anti-depressants. Luke didn't touch them, or move any of the bottles, but closed the door and let Mark keep his secrets there.

Blue silk covered the bed, pooling and draping like a Roman emperor's bed or a plot-less porn set. In ether case, Luke appreciated Mark's attempt and arrogance.  Sitting on the edge of Mark's bed, looking at the open closet and the disorganized shoes, the shirt sleeve peeping out, Luke found himself smiling. The antiseptic house was all special preparation.  Luke flopped back on the bed, arms out, fears dissolving.

He didn't want to do as he was told. He wanted to make some dinner, find an apron and meet his pretty red head at the door wearing just the apron and a smile.  They could sit together and write some story and he wanted his new master to stroke him to completion.  The vibration started first, then the ring, unknown caller ring. He sat up, legs spread wide and answered. "Hey."

"Hey," a voice mimicked back, distorted and impossible to identify. The voice recited Mark's address, then after a pause, which found Luke standing, turning around slowly, looking to make sure he was alone, the voice said, "I know where you are, purveyor of degeneracy. I will always know where you are, but that won't matter much longer. Did you make a will? Are you leaving everything to your sister? She's really hot. I need to make sure she's not lesbo, don't I?"

"Who are you," Luke snarled. One hand a fist at his side, his knee suddenly so tight that he staggered to the doorframe. "You leave my sister alone, you fucking bastard."

"Words, words," the disguised voice said, "I'm going to kill you, the cop, and the kid tonight. Which one should I do first?"

"You're sick," Luke said, letting his voice go slightly seductive, "Why kill any of us? There's room for you."

Holding the phone between his shoulder and his ear, which never worked well with mobile phones the size of a kiwi he woke up the computer that Mark had left for him, called up his email and spammed text messages to Mark's number. He didn't know what carrier Mark was with, but he knew the email extensions of all the carriers that serviced Seattle. There would only be one phone number that was Mark's so, he sent, "Help. Death threats on cell phone now. Do you have a kid with you?"

"You think I'd want to touch you? I'm not going to touch you, even when I kill you, pervert! Your kind doesn't deserve to live. I've read your books. Men fucking men. The world would be better with you dead."

Luke didn't know, maybe Mark could track the person back to wherever they were. The government could do things like that, so he figured it was worth a chance. In kidnap movies they always tried to keep the kidnapper on the phone to give enough time. The same was true of suicide calls. You wanted to keep them on the phone. Maybe it worked the same for homicide. "Have you killed before?"

"Shit, yes, I have. Fuckers said anything I wanted to hear after I started cutting parts off. Promised to leave each other, to be good men. I should have killed the kid then."

Those butterflies turned to dripping blood. Luke's hand shook when he sent the text spam again. "Caller says he killed two people and should have killed the kid. I'm at your apartment."

"What are you typing? Are you writing now? Does my voice turn you on?"

"What if it does?" Luke said, typing help me over and over again, "I can't really hear it can I? You're going to kill me, aren't you? I want to hear the sound of your voice."

"I bet you'd like that," the voice said, "Death turns you on?"

Luke was sure he was turning blue and if he had to act in person, he'd never pull it off. "Maybe. I never tried it. Does it turn you on?"

"Yeah," the voice said, now that of a young man, smooth, American, cultured, spoiled sounding. "It does. I like blood."

"So it'll be a party then," Luke said, shaking, eyeing the kitchen to see if there was a rack of knives or something good to defend himself with. "How many people have you killed?"

"Nine," the man said, very pleased with himself. "You're really pretty. Typing 'help me' isn't going to help you though."

The voice was in stereo and Luke's eyes went to the window in the dining room.  Still light outside, but so close to twilight that the light of day hardly counted. A man, in a red haired wig, a baseball bat in one hand, and a hockey mask over his face. His left hand held the mobile phone to his ear and deep satisfaction oozed from his words, "I surprised you little fagot, didn't I? I'll tell you something else, little boy, I'm not alone. We're a club. We're going to get rid of all of you."

"I hate baseball bats," Luke ground out, ending the call.

Hockey mask battered up and Luke ran for the bedroom, his knee hating him every step of the way. Glass shattered with homerun intensity, then the bastard took time to break off the remaining shards.  Luke had really wanted a dumb villain for this story.  The only thing he found even remotely defensible was a leather wrapped spreader bar. He couldn't out run the man and if he got outside the apartment, not even his body might be found. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!"

"Is that your god? Fuck?" Hockey mask asked, filling the bedroom door. "Did you have a good day today? Riding around like a princess in a carriage? You looked like you were having a really good time."

"Fucker," Luke growled, hating the taint running over the memories of his day. "Bring it on, you bastard! I'll give you what you're asking for!"

"Really?" Hockey mask reached around and pulled a pistol from a holster at the small of his back. "You're too far away to take a swipe at me with more than words, pretty boy. I bet that knee of yours hurts bad sometimes, uh?  That'll make it really hard to get close enough for me, limping around like a broken princess. I don't have to get any closer to you. Want me to start with your other knee?"

"People are home. People will hear gun fire."

"Nope.  No one's home. The upstairs woman is at the vet with her dog, which got hit by a car today. Neighbors to the right are out looking for their kid, who didn't come home today. Place to the left is empty.  No body but me to hear you cry. Drop the toy or I'm going to take out your other knee."

Luke ground his teeth, but dropped the bar. "Why do you want to kill a kid?"

"Enough talk. The handcuffs on the nightstand, put them on."

Luke licked his lips nervously, but moved to do as he was told, as slow as he could get away with, exaggerating his limp. Mark would come. Mark would send the cops.  "Okay, there. On. Happy, you bastard?"

Slow movement wasn't one of Hockey Mask's issues. The backhand spun Luke around, busting his lips. With his hands cuffed, his knee stiff, he couldn't catch himself and fell, rolling only to have Hockey Mask follow with a powerful kick to his ribs. Pain made multi-fork lightning through his side, whiting out his vision. A fistful of hair picked his face up and smashed it back down against the floor. "Repent! Beg God for forgiveness!"

"I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Luke said, inching away, "What god am I talking to again? The god of murdering bastards like you?"

"I bet you were going to spread your legs for that cop, weren't you?" Hockey mask snarled, "After I kill you, I'm going to put you in his bed. Homosexuals are all death, that's all he should expect to find."

"Police," Mark said, voice frigid and controlled. "Gun down, slowly."

"You're here early," Hockey mask said, gun coming down slowly, then suddenly he moved, gun to the back of Luke's head, pulling them both to their feet, "You didn't want to miss his screaming?"

"The building is surrounded with police," Mark said, reasonably, gun aimed at the hockey mask. "Let him go and you can walk out of here. Everyone gets to live a while longer."

"I'm fighting for a cause greater than myself," the man said, pressing the pistol against Luke's head a little more.

Mark fired.

Blood sprayed.  Luke spun, the gunshot louder than all the world in his ears, but strong hands caught him, lifted him, in the strange timeless place of nowhere that he'd fallen into. Shock wasn't like in a story or movies. It was vile and unrelenting, making a person lose control as if they were no better than some animal, and he sobbed against Mark's chest, screaming even though he couldn't hear himself screaming. He couldn't hear Mark's words, though he could feel the breath of Mark's voice against his forehead.

Promises are like butterflies, fragile short-lived little creatures. It is human to hope. As darkness pulled him under, he let himself dream that Mark would hold him always.


"Mmm," Luke moaned, almost surprised by the sound of his own voice. "Where am I?"

"Hospital," Rachel said. "That was some date, little brother. No cherry on a chain for you."

"Is he gone," Luke asked, eyes cracking open. Broken ribs, he decided, but not much worse than that. Broken hearts were not medical concerns.

"Went to get the kid something from the gift shop."

A young boy waved from where he sat on the other bed, cross-legged, a thumb in his mouth. "I'm Charlie," the boy said, around his thumb. "You're going to be my dad."

"Oh," Luke said, looking back at Rachel before forcing his body to let him sit up. "That's good to know."

"I thought you might like to," Mark said, in the door way now, cleaned up and smiling brilliantly, "See, I had this idea. We're handfasted for a year, and I'm going to be protecting Charlie. I want to protect you. So, I thought we'd all try being a family together, if you want."

"How is moving in together going to help," Luke asked, holding his sister's hand tightly. "Not that I mind. I'd like to, really, yeah, I'd like to move in with you, and I've always wanted kids." Luke smiled at the boy, who smiled back, and god, now that was sudden. 'Insta-family: add water, stir'.  "What about Ray?"

"Oh me too," she reassured, "I'm on the hit list for that group of nuts too."

"Federal Witness Protection Program," Mark said, holding the new bunny out to Charlie, "Until we know we're all safe, that's the best way. If you want, you and Rachel don't have to come with me and Charlie."

"No," Luke said, wincing as he shifted to get out of bed. "I want to come with you. A commitment's got to be worth more than just a moment's breath, doesn't it?"

"Always was to me," Mark said, reaching to take Luke's hand.

After another squeeze to his sister's hand, Luke moved closer to Mark. Charlie crawled off Mark's lap as Mark stood up, both hands sliding into Luke's hair. "You are so beautiful. I love you. I have loved you for a long time."

Luke blushed, but smiled. "I'm happy to help you protect Charlie."

"Heart on a chain is much better than a cherry," Rachel said.

"Absolutely," Mark said, leaning forward to kiss Luke, his writer, his love, his dream.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Edward Cording

Alcatraz photos

These are some photos I took while visiting Alcatraz last year.  The Rain Does Softly Fall .. the idea was brainstormed on the AWC list. So I thought I'd share some photos, because another person might try writing story from that same brainstorming session.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Jaime Samms Guest Blogs! Watching Flowers

Watching Flowers
by Jaime Samms
copyright 2009
all rights reserved

Jaime's site is:   I think she's an awesome writer!

"Deaglan." Ailill's whisper carried from the bed to the hallway, and Quinlan stopped, turning back the way he'd come to listen. "Where's Quin?"

"Garden," Deaglan mumbled. "Always in the garden, making things grow, making a lovely hidden garden of delights for us." The rustle of sheets accompanied a grunted half-complaint from Deaglan and then Ailill giggled.

"You awake?"

"No." A long, low groan emanated from Deaglan. "Ailill...ohhh."


"Don't stop."

Quinlan could see them, now, from where he stood just outside the bedroom door.  One of Deaglan's long legs hung over the edge of the bed. The other knee rose up above Ailill's hunched form where he knelt between Deaglan's legs. Acres of soft brown hair spread over and around them, and Ailill's, pale bare ass showed as he plied Deaglan with his mouth. Quinlan watched with a little bit of envy as Deaglan trailed lazy fingers through the long, luscious hair, something Quinlan hadn't yet been invited to do.

"You're very good at that," Deaglan murmured.

Ailill's head came up and he grinned. "I know. I get to practice a lot on Quinlan."

"Oh, I know." Deaglan sat up and cupped Ailill's chin, leaning close for a deep, tongue-filled kiss. "I watched you yesterday, on your knees in the garden with your mouth stretched around his cock. He didn't even have time to get his jeans off. Just his dick and his ass hanging out."

Ailill shrugged. "I wanted him. What can I say? Didn't know you were watching, though, or I would have put on more of a show."

A sly smile, and Deaglan kissed him again, light, predatory. "Oh, it was a show, all right. You made him weak in the knees. Talented and pretty while you do it. Can't ask for much more than that."

Inside, Quinlan wibbled a little, watching that kiss, almost, wishing he was there to encourage it, but not wanting to interrupt, either.  Excitement rose in his jeans, thinking of Deaglan watching Ailill suck him off, though, and he palmed himself through his pants.

 Little spots of pink appeared on Ailill's cheeks, turning his innocent look devilish. "Lemme finnish you now?"

"Nope." Deaglan sat up straighter and propped himself against the headboard. "Come sit in my lap." He tapped his thigh, reached to the bedside table and pulled lube from the drawer. "I want to fuck you."

He handed Ailill the lube after squeezing a bit into his palm, and Ailill coated his fingers. Heat cascaded through Quinlan at the sight of Deaglan stroking lube over his own cock, and Ailill slicking and stretching himself to receive, their gazes locked, bodies taught straining toward each other.

"Ready?" Deaglan ran his clean hand up Ailill's stomach, lingering over his nipples and drawing Ailill closer with the touch.

 Rising on his knees, Ailill still didn't look away from Deaglan, and Quinlan read so much love and desire in his face it made his heart ache. Then Ailill was sinking back down, bliss rising in his expression as flush rose up his skin to turn his cheeks pink. Deaglan's eyes fluttered closed as Ailill encompassed him, and the next few minutes were filled only with the sound of the bed rocking, and their breathing, drawn and released together, as though they were one being.

It was possibly the most beautiful sight Quinlan had ever seen, watching them together, knowing even before it happened they would come in unison, voices and names mingling, just like they did so many other things, perfectly in synch, probably without even realizing it.

He'd gone far past arousal himself, to aching, but couldn't bring himself to get off on their lovemaking. It was too precious. He backed away, down the hallway, lingering just a little as Ailill bent to kiss Deaglan with tender care, and Deaglan's hands drifted up through tangles of hair over his arms to encircle him and hold him close.

He went out the back door to the garden and settled in the sunshine and warmth and sweet thoughts of his lovers enjoying each other.

Dragons are the good guys.. Yin :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Rain Does Softly Fall 1

The Rain Does Softly Fall

by Jewls Winter
copyright 2009
all rights reserved

"Murder?" Edward licked his lips, eyes hooded, flickering from the door to the window. Rain trailed down the window, dark in shadow, looking thicker than water.

The detective across the desk, hard eyes, back to the widow, what little light filled in the small office highlighted his short trimmed hair, leaving his eyes dark, full of condemnation. "We know what happened. It's clear. You made," the detective's voice deepened, disgust a fine shadow of dust, "sexual advances to him, repeatedly over the course of your junior and senior years at Harvard. We have witnesses. We have your letter threatening to openly accuse him of homosexual behavior. It was your blackmail, your 'advances', your deviance that caused Mr. Lawrence such emotional distress that he hanged himself. Just the thought of your imagination roaming over him was enough to ruin a good young man. That you threatened to smear his name makes this a homicide."

Edward leaned back against the cold metal chair, closed his eyes. Henry's eyes were blue. Had been blue. With his eyes closed those blue eyes swelled, whitened, like a dead fish and Edward started back up, a hand going to his tie. "It's not like that. We loved each other. I think his brother killed him."

"You would. You fucking faggot. Brother's don't kill each other. Maybe your brother should have killed you. Did you kill your brother? What kind of twisted mind comes up with something like that? It's because of you that Henry Lawrence is dead. Say it."

He blinked, only a second in the darkness, but thick wet slipped down, running down his face with no more emotion than the rain ran down the window, just dripping shadow. "I'm the reason Henry's dead." Those words bled the life out of Edward, his soul dripping away even as his tears stopped without him even knowing they'd started. "I'm the reason Henry's dead."

"That's right. Sign the confession, you sick fuck," the detective demanded as he pushed the gray paper towards his prisoner.

"What am I signing? Why am I signing something? Oh my god, Henry's really dead. He won't have killed himself. He won't. He loved me."

"Stalker. That's what a stalker would think, isn't it? Just sign. That's the best thing. You don't want any trouble, do you? A homosexual like you could come to a lot of trouble. Sign right here, Mr. Cording. Everything will be alright."

Shock. Edward ran a hand through bohemian sandy hair. "We're working on a book. I was doing the last edits."

"Sure," the detective said, putting a pen into his prisoner's hand. "Just write your name."

Edward put the pen down, leaned back, his hand going to his loosened tie. "Why are you holding me? I'm so tired."

"Sign, then you can rest. It'll all be over, just sign. It's your fault he's dead."

Edward pressed his knuckles to his mouth, then with rapid movements, he signed. Only then, blinking again, he looked at the paper. 'At nine o'clock pm, I strangled.' 'He begged.' 'I was just so angry!'

"What is this? What did I just sign? Those are lies!"

The detective grabbed him spun him around, slamming him hard against the gray police station wall. "You stupid fuck. Did you think we were going to let a senator's son commit suicide? Or be a faggot. Have you ever heard of Alcatraz? Nothing gets in or out. It's a great place to forget a rotten little shit like you."

"No! Stop! Was Henry strangled? I didn't kill him! Someone killed Henry! Stop! Let me go!" The wall hit his head hard. Black funneled into his vision, leaving him alone with Henry's eyes.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Finding Sin

Finding Sin
by Jewls Winter
copyright 2009
all rights reserved

So I knew this guy once.

How many stories start like that?

Too fucking many.

So I knew this guy once.

I didn't promise him anything.

I told him even less, really.

He had dark eyes and behind those eyes there was always the scheme of taking over the world, of doing something great.

It was that shit that got us in trouble.

We were gangsters.

So ....
I guess...
I deserve whatever it is I'm getting.

Did I mention Dark Eyes had some shitty habits? Aside from the stuff that got me shot.

He told me not to die. I always did try to do what he told me.


Back to his crappy habits.

He sold sperm. He had enough of it, I guess.

I miss him.

Did I mention he had dark eyes? His hair was always trimmed so neat, proper. He cleaned up nice in a suit too. Damn fine in a tie.

He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, shoulders hunched even though he wore no coat. It had been a mid-January day, the last time he'd seen Kay. He leaned against a light post, hands in his pocket, fair sand colored hair blowing over his face. He wore jeans, faded with white tufts of unravel over one knee. His tee-shirt, his favorite, so he was glad he'd worn it on that day, was a black cotton thing with a silver demon screen printed on the front. Eyes closed, Sin could just let the world pass him by. People walked back and forth. Fashions changed. Time went on and it was comfortable, more or less, just normal for it to always be January.

Like a spark of static, not exactly cold, but flashing like cracking ice, and his eyes snapped open.


The woman pressing the walk light had long black hair, knotted at the nape of her neck. She wore a dark blue kimono jacket and blue jeans, the kind that were more for dress than work. She bit her lip and looked in his direction without seeing him, just like everyone else.

He pushed off the cold metal pole, crossed his hands under his arms, hiding them from the cold.

Fucking cold.

When she walked into the street, he followed. His long legs easily let him keep up with her.

She caught a taxi. He caught it with her, chewing on his thumbnail, one bent knee on the seat as he turned to watch her.

I know you... I just don't know how. How do I know you?

She rested her forehead on her palm.

"Where to?" The cab driver asked.

"710 Marshall," she said. She leaned back, running a hand through her hair.

Sin closed his eyes too. The scent in the cab, close to her, from her warmth, life, and he knew.

Kay. You're Kay's little sister.

"Hard day," the cabbie asked.

"It was the fifth anniversary of my brother's death. I can't believe he's dead. They never found his lover's body. They were so stupid." She covered her face. "My brother was so smart. He could have been anything, the jerk. He's never going to see his nephew. I'll never take my baby to see his grave stone. That's what he gets."
"Must be tough," the cabby switching lanes. "How'd he die?"

"Shot through the head. He was in a gang."

Sin inched a little closer, his head reaching towards her belly. She didn't show yet. He hadn't realized she was pregnant. She hadn't been old enough when he'd seen her last, which had been at least a couple of years before... that day.

"Gangs are stupid." The cab glided around the corner, merged with traffic, edged towards the far turning lane.

"Yeah," she said, her own hand going to her belly, passing right through his. Her head snapped in his direction, eyes as dark as Kay's pinning him like he was no more than a fluttering butterfly. "He was gay, my brother. I always promised I'd share my children with him and his lover. I thought it would make them... stop, you know? Does that make any sense? I mean, I guess, I didn't really understand them, but you love someone and it makes you think you know them."

"Oh, yeah," he said. "So they never found his lover?"

"It was on the wharf." She looked away from Sin, down to her bag. Around one of the straps hung a little anime trinket, a funny looking cat that was meant to hang from a cellphone, but Sin remembered giving it to Kay's little sister, promising her he'd be there to protect her. "They think his body washed out to sea. I put a marker for him right next to my brother's. Do you believe in an afterlife?"

"Well, you know, an afterlife can be bad too, depending on what you believe in," he said, eyes on the road.

"Kay and his lover," she said, leaning back a little, smiling, "They were good people. If there is a god and all those fluffy clouds, maybe they're his enforcers. I suppose angels don't get submachine guns."

"Maybe they're doing something more peaceful now."

"I hope they're happy. I'm sure they're together. It's funny how.. how I wish I could have found his body. It's not him. I mean, he's dead, so there's nothing there anymore, but I still want that empty shell to put next to Kay."

"I'm sure that means a lot to him. Where ever he is."


The rest of the cab ride took only minutes.

There's this feeling... when some shit's gonna come down I had it that day. I knew we shoulda done something else, but things just don't really work that way. Shit comes. You kick it as good as you can. Lane, yeah, that was her name. Lane.... if this is where she lives, it's a real nice building. I shoulda visited sooner.

Lane moved her bag up higher on her shoulder, took a deep breath, and moved on towards her building.

The bad feeling in Sin's gut turned out to be an old friend. Older, a pair of gold teeth, and Lane didn't even see him coming. She stiffened as he pressed against her back, pistol at her waist, hidden by his long coat. "Hurry up with the door. Smile or you'll be seeing your brother sooner than next year. Don't yell."

The door gave, opening and letting them both into the narrow, pristine lobby. His hand skimmed up her throat, rough over smooth, pulling her head back as she sucked in breath.

"What do you want?"

"I want the last six years of my life back," he snarled, forcing her into the elevator. "Your faggot of a brother turned federal wise guy, but I bet you didn't know that, did you? It's no wonder someone offed his ass before I got out, but I was waiting. I almost had you last year, but I thought I saw Sin. I'm sure I saw his fudge packing ass, but the bastard got away from me."

"Sin's dead," Lane said, relaxed in her captor's arms. "I'm pregnant. Do you really want to hurt a baby?"

"Yeah, but you ain't pregnant enough that I'm gonna kill you right away," he said, lust thick in his voice.

"There's a video camera in this elevator. You'll get caught."


Sin licked his lip, thoughtful, too focused and cunning to feel any emotion at all. His old friend had grown careless, or maybe he just underestimated his prey. It would be so easy, and Sin did it, stepped into the same space Lane occupied. Her body was smaller, full of strange sensations, but he'd long grown very good at focusing on the task at hand. Shift, grip, pivot, and aiming a gun came very easy, even with the unfamilar muscles. He grinned, and god it felt good to grin.

"Sin?" His old buddy's face went pale as an empty wallet.

"The dying see the dead real good, don't they?" Sin sneered.

She screamed.

The elevator door opened like it was moving in slow time, but there was still blood spray in the air, passing through to land on the nice gray carpet, on the sweet polished shoes of Lane's husband.

He screamed too. I heard his ass. It was all on tape though. It's not like she's gonna get into trouble. It's funny... how light I feel now.

At the end of the all, sunlight, brilliant like July, nothing at all like January, broke through the mundane posh of Lane's building. The sillouette there, short dark hair, crisp button up shirt, creased slacks, that was better than sunlight. With the light so bright behind it, Sin had trouble seeing for sure, but when the figure held out a hand, he took it. Pulled into the light, it was loving dark eyes searching his face.

"You took your time," Kay complained.

"I just had something to do. It was important."

Kay pulled Sin close, holding him tight. Both of them watched down the hall as Lane's husband held her close too. For one tiny second, Sin thought she looked their way, but even if she had there's just a time to move on. Kay's arm around his shoulder, he let his lover walk him into the warmth, the golden light. "You're going to love it here!"

"I get to be with you?"

"I waited for you didn't I?"

A Knight of Good Wishes 1

A Knight of Good Wishes

By Jewls Winter
all rights reserved
copyright 2009

"There can be no more beauty than that which lives within your eyes," Philip said, voice sweet and wicked as spiced ale, "A single glance from your eyes, and I shall be willing to give you all and everything."

Laysh tipped his chin, violet eyes sparkling with possibility. "Fair knight, your hands are the servant of your sword, what need might a poet of little renown have to offer the hands that will one day be king."

"Your sable hair, so long that it trails through my dreams," Philip murmured, drawing his dance partner close, "Your eyes are endless twilight, as if the night were always yet to begin and dawn far distant. Share my bed. Be my beloved."

Lull softened the music, strings and wind slowing, swirling towards quiet as the dance ended. Laysh bowed with the end of the dance, long dark velvet sleeves flowed with his movement. A braid of soft brown hair slipped from his shoulder, hanging heavy towards the floor. "My Prince," Laysh said, by passing the politeness of addressing his unofficial prince as a simple knight yet. Intelligence danced in violet eyes, daring his suitor to deny what all the court already knew. "I cannot be the beloved of a man who's grace must take him far from my bed before my heart has even drawn a second breath."

Laysh stepped back, bowing yet again and a delicately beautiful, wearing the silver circlet showing her nobility. Hair of red and gold, woven around the silver and decorated with pearls. She held out her hand, fully expecting her share of respect from a knight not yet officially named prince.

Philip bowed, knee black hair brushing past a strong and gently scarred face. "Milady."

"Dance with me," she asked, but it was not a request.

It was a full song later that Philip found the long haired poet on the balcony.

"You waited for me," Philip said, the back of his hand smoothing over a soft velvet sleeve. "As I have waited for you for so long. You know that I could not approach you before. When I am announced, I shall ask you formally to be my consort. Will you accept?"

"We are boys no more," Laysh said, voice deep an serious. "With me at your side, holding power will only become more difficult."

"Without you by my side," Philip explained, his touch moving to travel the curve of Laysh's jaw, "what good I could do for people will taste to me as plain porridge and not how long I might continue as a man on such a diet. Kashire brews towards war. I need a consort who can help me nurture peace as well as one who can nurture peace within me. I am a poor man, you've known me all my life, and I would not blame you for rejecting me, but have you not waited for me? Have you not saved such secrets of your flesh and soul for me alone?"

"I have," Laysh admitted, stepping back just out of reach, "And if you announce me, I shall accept, but then you knew this already."

Philip turned, elbows on the railing. He grinned, wicked contentment showing on his face. "I did. I knew you won't share my bed early, but you knew I'd try."

"Of course, my prince," Laysh said, backing away until the shadows swallowed him.

Philip leaned back, looking at a sky with two few stars. He could wait. One more day.

Monday, April 6, 2009


by Nix Winter
all rights reserved
copyright 2004Trust

The worst kind of lonely is wishing to reach out, to touch, not being able to cross some invisible line in one's own head.

The therapist stared quietly at Vincent. "Why can't you do this thing?"

Alex Vincent didn't want any more medications. He didn't want something that he couldn't explain. He wanted. He wanted something he couldn't explain. "Why should I do this thing?"

"Because it is truly what you wish to do," she said softly, the sound of her pen flowing over the paper almost louder than her words. "You know whom you wish to trust."

"I'll ruin him," Alex whispered, studying the bland white ceiling for all he was worth. "He's too valuable to me."

"Alex," his therapist said, changing the tone of their session, transgressing some boundary that he'd put in place between them long ago. "Alex, you went to Madrid and you nearly chose not to live. Now you are here, but you can't go home. Home is too dark and too familiar with grief. You are brave, Alex. Go to him and ask him to call you by your name. Ask him to go with you into this new place of understanding. As Aretha did in your last book, you want to make that journey on your own, do you not?"

"Ricky is an idiot." Vincent said coldly, but it felt as if he were trying to drown himself, crushing his own heart as he said it.

"We have agreed not to lie to each other. Do you really feel your lover is an idiot?"

"No." Vincent closed his eyes. "I'm going to have a panic attack right now though. We need to cut this session short."

His therapist nodded. "Are you going to do it then?"

The panic attack grabbed Vincent then, tingles up the back of his neck, breath that wouldn't come. He sat up, swung his legs over the edge of the couch and gripped it with both hands. If he wasn't careful, he'd forget how to breath all the way. "I can't live like this!"

"Do you want me to write you another prescription, Vincent?"

"No." He swallowed, closed his eyes and imagined that picture of them, of Ricky so full of life, bouncing like a maniac behind him, imagined Ricky's voice and words and he combed his hair back, great messy blond history. It was hair that he always wrote about, in his novels, people with beautiful hair and beautiful eyes, and beautiful tragic lives that always came out happy by 'The End'. He wasn't like that. Every day he woke up and it still hurt. What he'd done was like a vampire, sucking away any life he might have.

Then there was Ricky pouring life into him, like the sun pouring energy into some damn plant that had been locked in the closet. The sunlight was there. Life was there. He just had to open the god damn closet door!

"How do I open the door? You're so smart. How do I get out of the closet," he asked her, not expecting her to answer or have any idea what he was talking about.

She'd been his therapist for a long time though, and many other clients before Alex Vincent had come into her practice. "Forgive yourself, Vincent. Trust in at least one person."

"Forgive?" He looked up, only then realizing that he'd bowed his head. "Forgive? Alex is dead. Any man I might have been is dead."

"No, he's not. He comes to see me every week at just this time. Trust and forgiveness, Alex. Give someone your name."

It was bullshit and he knew it. And yet, he couldn't live like this. "That's it? That's all you've got to say after all the money I've paid you?"

She smiled, eyes too plain to be in a romance novel, and yet there was something in them that woke something in him, that cracked that door just a little. "Try it."

He stood up then, running thoughtful fingers over the stubble on his cheek. It had been two days since he'd been home. He hadn't even called Ricky, but he knew that his lover would be ecstatic to see him, would rush him and wrap him in his arms. Quite suddenly, he wanted that, wanted Ricky's embrace, his sunlight. "Next week," Vincent said.

Once in his car, Vincent pulled out his phone, dialed the number for Ricky's mobile phone with his thumb. It rang and rang and the light turned green and it rang on more. Each ring was like the light from the crack of the door getting smaller, dimmer. Finally he closed and threw it against the passenger door. Trust? What was trust? He brought his sunglasses forward and hit the gas.

Middle of the day, he hit the on ramp and sailed towards the coast. He didn't know where he wanted to go, or why. He wanted to just to not be here, not alone, not with lies. The panic attack was coming back and he wished it would just kill him, just, something.

Police lights slowed him though and he pulled over, running scenarios through his head. 'Popular Novelist Shot in Police Misunderstanding' 'Formerly Popular Novelist Arrested for Excessive Speeding Tickets.' When the police officer got to his window, he smiled at him and handed him his driver's license.

Then the phone started ringing.

"You can answer that, Mr. Vincent," the officer said, pleasantly smiling before continuing with his ticket.

He didn't want to answer it though. Still he leaned over and picked the thing up. He didn't want to police officer to think he was as upset as he was. 'Novelist Confined in Mental Hospital' was not going to be a headline any time soon. "Yes?"

"VINCENT! Where are you? Oh Vincent! I saw your number and I called right back! Penny had my phone and she didn't answer it! Vincent! Where are you? I miss you so much!"

Vincent held the phone away from his ear a bit as the police officer tried not to laugh. "Mr. Vincent, my wife reads your books and my son has posters with your partner all over his bed room. I have to give you the ticket, but I didn't write it for 102 mpg, only for 85. Would you please give me your autograph?"

"VINCENT? A hundred and two?!"

Vincent groaned, but in that groan, he found the door to the closet open, light filling his space. He found maybe not forgiveness, but a reason to value himself and a trust in his pink haired artist partner. He held up a finger to the police officer. "Ricky, take a week from work, go to the coast with me?"

"Yeah, sure Vincent, anything you want. Pick me up at ComicNow?" Confusion, but acceptance hung in Ricky's voice and whatever was with Ricky's phone, Vincent could hear Penny groaning about needed to finish twenty more pages in the back ground.

"I will be there. I want to talk to you, tell you everything," he said, still holding his finger up to the get the police officer to wait. Silently he added, to Ricky, 'I want to tell you my real name, because I trust you.'

After he closed the connection with Ricky, he gave the police officer two autographs and shoved the speeding ticket in the glove box with the other two. He'd pay them, soon even. Today though, he was going to pay for the sunlight with a little trust.

Chapter Two

Depression leaves. The void it leaves comes is just as loud sometimes. Vincent watched the girl make his coffee, but his mind wasn't really following her. His thoughts ran through memories of Ricky.

He started with the first attraction he'd felt. In the park, the energy and excitement, the very life in Ricky had both drawn him and awoke life he'd thought long dead. That first insult had been directed both to the pink haired artist and the young writer that lingered in the shadows of his own heart. It hadn't been about Ricky having talent. In truth, he suspected if the brat had had no talent, that the moment would never have happened between them. That zap of attraction, protection, and insult would not have snapped between them if Ricky had been untalented.

The moment turned in his memory making more facets. He'd shown writing to someone in a park once. Idly, he picked up a coffee stir stick and pulled his sunglasses down over his eyes. That moment in the park with Ricky, that had been a new start.

Of course, it could have all faded away, gone back to the smothering misery he'd had before, if Ricky had not practically killed himself trying to climb up to his apartment building to get in to meet him. Vincent wondered if he'd ever have another rainy night and not think about Ricky, arms out, rain-wet hair in his face, standing below this balcony, screaming his name. That moment in the park though, it was the start of Vincent's darker remembering

How fast old defenses and pain flared, burned through his numb soul, and turned to ashes under the fire that was Ricky's love. Pain had been a constant companion, but Ricky had forced his way into that place in Vincent's heart, forced out the hurt, but not without a fight from the hurt.

Some woman, blond, nicely built smiled at him then, thought she recognized him maybe. He turned away, picking up a mint from the counter, held it up to the clerk and she nodded, that she'd charge him for it. Ricky liked mint kisses.

When he'd told Ricky that he didn't want him because of he sucked in bed, he'd thought it true at the time. Didn't sex just coil around the soul sometimes though? He rolled the mint on his tongue. Ricky made him want, desire, woke his body as well as his memories, made everything messy and too real, clumsy and as he pressed the mint to the top of his mouth, too sweet.

The therapist, his doctor, wanted him to give Ricky his real name, to move away from having his lover call him by the name of his first lover, of the man he'd killed and hated himself for killing for years. Standing in the coffee shop, he found it hard to imagine writing a character who would have his lover call him by the name of a long dead lover, the name of a rapist. How clear things could get in the light of Ricky's fire. Pink fire.

"Mr. Vincent," the girl said, stressing it as if it were the second time she'd said it.

"Yes?" He asked, handing her a couple of notes that paid the bill and then, "Thank you."

Across the street from the cafĂ©, the afternoon sun was making the ComicsNow building look like it had a halo. Brilliant bronze glass reflected the day like a shroud of redirection, making it almost impossible to see the building directly.  Vincent felt a kinship with the building.

The coffee tasted harsh on his tongue. The light reflecting off the windows of the ComicsNow building seemed harsh as well, and he let the rough rejection in it wash around him, reaching to hope and fragile trust instead.  He was done with shoving both Ricky and his own heart away. Alex, it was just his name, just such a far distant memory of innocence. Coffee in hand, he pulled his sleeve back and looked at his watch. Half an hour until he could pick up Ricky without getting his lover in trouble, or at least not so much trouble.

Traffic seemed light so he crossed, long steps and a cocky mood, maybe from the sunlight now hitting the back of his neck. The automatic doors opened and he moved without hesitation into Ricky's and Marco's domain. Marco. The need to see his sister's lover took him quite by surprise. It wasn't much of a surprise to find Marco in the elevator when the doors opened.

"Alex," the blond said, a look of concern, anxity on his face, growing quickly into alarm and Alex opened his arms and took him into a hug. "Alex?"

"Marco," Alex said. "Thank you."

"Alex," Marco said, real concern in his voice now. "Is everything alright?"

"Yes," he answered in English, a language that had so many meanings layered on it for him. "Yes, everything is fine. I'm here to pick up Ricky. I'm taking him to the coast."

Marco leaned back a little, his hands taking hold of Alex's shoulders, eyes searching his face. "Where have you been? What's happened?"

Alex smiled, taking his sunglasses off. He wasn't ready to be as easy and open with Marco as the blond man might have liked, but he didn't feel like running either. "A little more time, Marco. Lunch when I get back?"

"Yes, of course," Marco said in that soft voice of his and Alex wondered what kind of art Marco was making these days.

"I have things to say to you, but when I come back."

"Yes, yes, of course. It is so nice to see you so changed." Marco tilted his head and smiled.

Such beautiful eyes, Alex thought, if the world had been different. "When I come back, Marco."

He blinked again. "When you come back. Take Ricky then." He said, as if rather bemused by the change in his friend, confused by it almost, as if the void left by Alex's departed misery left him without really knowing what to do as well. "Things have changed?"

Alex shrugged, but there was that bit of smile at the edge of his lips as he took his sunglasses all the way off. If he said something about pink fire to the Marco, his friend would think him mad perhaps. "When I come back."

Marco turned and watched Alex get in the elevator and Alex watched him as the doors closed.

Somehow he thought it was the happily ever after now, at least in this moment. Stories never went far enough. They never showed what to do after the horror, after the tears. People were just supposed to know how to live, how to breath, how to take the ones they loved in their arms. Nervous now for some reasons he didn't take time to explain to himself, he straightened his hair in the chrome of the elevator.

This time when the elevator doors opened it was Ricky that launched through them. "VINCENT! Vincent! I'm so happy to see you!"

He had no time to see what his singer wore or anything else before the ball of pink fire, of vital life energy had him pressed back against the elevator wall, arms around his neck, lips to lips. Ricky's tongue slipped into his mouth, his fingers into his hair. The doors closed behind him and blindly Alex reached for the emergency stop button. Maybe he couldn't wait till they go the coast.

Chapter Three

The trip to the coast was silent. Ricky got more anxious as they went. He loved Vincent. Loved him with all his being, but he was always feeling on the edge of losing him. It upset his stomach, worrying about what it was that Vincent had wanted to tell him.

"Can't you tell me now," he asked, an almost whiny tone in his voice.

"No." Vincent said it coldly, watching the road, trying not to think about how he was going to explain to Ricky what he needed to. It would be so simple. Call me Alex. My name is Alex. It just involved crossing over to trusting Ricky, to showing him his real face, his heart. Being the impeccable prince, writer extraordinaire, cold hearted bastard, well, that, that was just so much easier than being Alex.  "Be quite, Ricky."

"I wish we were still in the elevator," Ricky pouted, sticking his arm out the window to catch the air as they went around the corner. Vincent was driving too fast, but that wasn't anything unusual.

"It would be nice if it were always easy and sweaty," Vincent said, kicking himself for the sting in his words.

Ricky looked down at his bare knees, rubbed the edge of one shoe against the other and thought about the pages of manga he wasn't getting done. "Why did you bring me, if I just irritate you, uh? It's been like this for the last couple of months. Stop being mean, uh? If you're building up to tell me something I don't wanna hear, just do it. Don't make me wait. It'll only make it hurt more."

One hand on the wheel, Vincent ran his other hand through blond hair. This had been so much easier in his plans, even hugging Marco had been easier. "I don't understand why this has got to be so hard. Ricky, I don't want to hurt you."

Sighing, Ricky lay the seat back and stared at the sky. "Like you didn't mean to be driving a 102? Vincent, I love you."

"I know you do," Vincent said, turning off the main road, heading towards the ComicsNow beach house.

Suddenly it felt more relaxed off the main road, on the rougher gravel road, just the two of them. Or maybe it was that Ricky had said he loved him, yet again. "I love you too, my brat."

"You do?" Ricky sat up, tripping the lever on the seat so quickly that the seat almost smacked him into the dashboard. "Say it again, Vincent! Tell me you love me again!"

Vincent looked at him out of the corner of his eyes, but pulled the car up beside the beach house and cut the lights. There in the dark they sat, Ricky vibrating in his seat, Vincent shivering deep inside so that it didn't show. "I love you, brat."

"Vincent!" Ricky said, launching himself across the small foreign car. Vincent opened the door and let Ricky almost sail right out the door, but at the very last moment he caught his floating lover and pulled him close, holding him like a bride in his arms as he stepped out of the car, Ricky's arms around his neck. "Say it again, Vincent!"

"Don't call me that and be quiet, Ricky, just for another moment, please."

"Sure," Ricky said, leaning back a little, so blue eyes could look into brown eyes, "You sure you'd okay?"

"I saw the therapist today." Vincent set Ricky down on his feet and walked away as he drew the key from his jacket pocket.

"So you're okay, right? You don't have to take any more medications, right?" Ricky followed along hands shoved in the pocket of his shorts. He wanted the sexual tension back that they'd had in the elevator. He wanted anything but this drain on his feelings. Without warning, Vincent rounding on him, leaving the door unopened and caught him by the shirt, pulling him close, until they were nose to nose.

"My name is Alex. That's my first name. Don't call me Vincent anymore. You're too important to me. My name is Alex."

Ricky tilted his head just a little, their eyes still locked. "Alex," he whispered, leaning closer. Lips to lips, familiar lips, and yet completely brand new. His breath fluttered in his throat, his chest and he rose up on the balls of his feet, one arm going around Alex's back. "Alex. I love you, Alex."

Chapter Four

Alex stood on the back porch, watching the waves roll in. The sky was blue, the beach white and the ocean endless.  Alex Vincent felt American, felt like he belonged in this picture. Behind him, in their beach house, he could hear Ricky's muffled singing. Alex didn't even have to turn around to see him to know that he was dancing in the kitchen, headphones on, shorts mostly dusted free of sand and no shirt at all. The singing was muffled because Ricky was trying to sing without making any sound and he couldn't hear himself. The music was so loud in those headphones that Alex could hear it all the way out on the porch. Ricky fit into this picture of Alex's life too.

The tide was slipping away, pulling at the wet sand each time it fell back. Alex had expected it to hurt more, this letting go of Vincent, of the shell he'd protected himself with. When he'd torn the photo, dropped it into the ocean that day at the airport a kind of pain had swelled in him, taking the pain that ate his stomach away and banding his heart until his whole body ached. Surviving can break the heart.

And yet

Here he was. Ricky loved him. "Hey Brat!"

Pink hair and violet eyes peeked out the open door. "Vin..," he paused, "Alex?"

"So you can hear under those things. I don't know how you manage it. You're going to damage your hearing." Alex turned, leaning against the railing, ocean breeze picked up his hair. "Come here?"

Ricky shoved his headphones off and stepped out on the porch. He was waiting for the other shoe to drop. It showed in the tension in those slender shoulders, the way his feet took an almost defensive posture.

"It's my fault," Alex said, tilting his head, taking in all of Ricky, from the sun burn started on his shoulders and nose to the way his knee had started a very slight nervous twitch. "It's my fault you're nervous now. It was because I had to be Vincent and no one can  really have Vincent, no one could love him."

"But I love you, Vi... Alex. I love you, Alex." Ricky said, looking if anything a little tenser now.

Alex Vincent had never backed down from anything. He hammered his plots until they worked, he forced smiles and faced people who despised him because he didn't live the straight fairy tale everyone seemed to want for him. He'd survived that hurt. He'd faced the grief he felt over the real Vincent, the really dead one, once he'd made the decision to live. "I know you do, Ricky. I love you too."

"Alex!" Ricky nearly screamed before

Alex found himself wrapped in blue eyed comic artist. "Say it again, Alex!"

"I love you," Alex repeated as he scooped his lover up in his arms. One arm under his knees, the other hugging Ricky close, "I want to put lotion on your shoulders. You're going to burn as pink as your hair."

"Is it going to be lemon flavored lotion," Ricky asked, nuzzling Alex's shoulder. Lemon, in the manga, graphic novel world, meant sex scene.

"Not really." Alex said as he set Ricky down on the bathroom counter and opened the medicine cabinet. "I just wanted to talk, about, uh, why I'm such an asshole sometimes."

"It doesn't matter, does it? I mean, just be nice from now on." Ricky smiled, but it only lasted a moment before it twitched away. "Alex, it feels weird to call you that, but if you wanna talk, we can talk about whatever you need to. I'll listen."

"Vincent's dead, I stabbed him." Alex said, feeling that band tighten around his heart again. Outside on the porch, he'd felt so good, so much like he belonged. Now, now he wondered if he could trust Ricky at all. The world wasn't fair, giving him a lover he loved with all his being, but maybe couldn't trust. "And then I couldn't let him die, even though, he was already dead. He was my lover."

"Why? Alex, why did you stab him?" Ricky asked. His voice had lost that summer at the beach lightness, had lost some element of frivolous Ricky.

There it was. The Big Thing Between Them. They'd been dancing around it, from the day Ricky had showed up in the park that night, from the screaming for him outside his apartment. It was between them, this history of Alex's. Not that Ricky didn't have his own history, his own share of bruises that Alex could feel responsible for too.

Bottle of lotion in on hand, hip against Ricky's knee, Alex laid his head on Ricky's shoulder. Ricky wrapped an arm around Alex's back, and they both looked at each other in the mirror because they couldn't look at each other directly.

To be raped is to be told in a language so deep that the soul understands even if the mind doesn't, to be told that you are less than worthless, that your pain brings another pleasure. Ricky brought his fingers up and combed them through Alex's hair.

It was a hole in both their souls. A hole too large to cross, as they stared at each other. Tears came easily to Ricky, as if blue could slide right down his cheek.

"Alex," he said the name slowly, as Alex's fingers came up to touch the tears on Ricky's cheek. "We were talking about trust earlier, and you said I should call you by your real name. You gave me your name, I'll show you my heart, my whole soul, every thing I am."

"You always do, Ricky," Alex said, bringing his fingers back to his mouth and licking the tears away. "I know what that bastard did to you."

"How do you know," Ricky asked, his voice gone deadly thin. "The photos?"

"Never developed. No one will ever see them," Alex promised. "I know, because I see myself in you. I see it in the way you wince in your sleep. In the way you freeze when we make love. I see it in the way you struggle to write. Now listen to me, please."

"Okay," Ricky squeaked, his knees drawing together even as he held tighter to Alex.

"I thought, just now, when you asked me about lemon lotion, if I trusted you or not. I thought maybe I had a choice, but I don't. I trust you more than any one I've ever known and if I can't show you my whole heart and soul then I'll never show them to anyone."

Ricky blinked, bits of information finally catching up to one another. "That's why you stabbed him. Because he raped you?" Color drained from Ricky's cheeks as he said that and Alex reached up to touch his face again, caress his cheek.

"I didn't plan it. He raped me and he had a knife," Alex said, eyes closing, then opening back as if the dark were too present. His words sounded to him like something on a late night talk show, something cheesy and unbelievable. "I got the knife away from him. Just one of those stupid kitchen knives.  I Marco covered it up. I came back to Seattle."

"Alex," Ricky said one hand holding Alex's hand to his face.

"Do you know how I learned that I wasn't," Alex couldn't say it, couldn't say or find a word that meant dangerous, worthless, vile, diseased.

"How?" Ricky asked, like he wanted to know the answer too.

Alex pulled back and took Ricky's chin between his fingers, looking directly into his eyes. "Because when you were raped, I loved you just as I had. What he did to you did not change how valuable you are to me, how precious and innocent and creative you are… I love you just exactly the same. So I began to understand that what happened to me didn't ruin me either. Can you really love me, knowing I was raped by my first lover and that I stabbed him to death? Really look me in the eyes and love me?"

"Alex," Ricky started, laying a finger over Alex's lips. "I thought a part of me died that night. Just stopped. I didn't know how anyone could hate me that much, that I had to have done something real bad, and at first I thought it was because I loved you so much and that it was wrong for me to, to love you, cuz you were a guy. Marco said it was my fault that you went away and I should have," Ricky stopped talking eyes dropping until Alex's finger lifted his chin.

"Did you think about dying?"

Ricky grimaced his nose wrinkling, "No. I mean, I thought I ought to consider that. It would have honorable. But mostly I just kept thinking I'd be okay if you were near me. I'm bad and greedy."

"So am I," Alex said sliding his thumb over Ricky's lips. "I have no right to desire you, to want the pleasures of life. From the moment I met you in the park, the safe numbness I'd been hiding in has faded. Now I either trust you and I learn to live, or I shut down, and I'm lying to myself if I try to believe I have any other options. I love you and that love pulls trust out of me like some happily ever after in one of my books. Don't be angry at yourself for what happened in the garage anymore, Ricky. It wasn't your fault and it doesn't change how beautiful you are to me, how precious. Do you trust me?"

A silence settled between them, with Ricky reaching to touch Alex's face, trace the track of tears he hadn't cried. "Alex," Ricky whispered, "I do trust you and if you say it didn't make me ugly or bad, I believe you. It's not just how my heart got hurt by what happened. It's that it hurt. It tore and I screamed and it hurt." Fresh tears burned down his face and from Alex's eyes as well. "You have to trust me that it's not about you, when I pull away, or when I freeze. It's not about you, because I want your touch, I live for it. I trust you and I crave you."

Alex found his smile again, just a small smile, he reached up and brushed his fingers trough Ricky's hair. "It's this living thing, makes me feel alive when I think about you. I did something auto-erotic once while reading your comics."

Ricky blushed, then laughed, chin to his chest, giggling.

"Come here, let's go watch the sun set," Alex said, pulling Ricky from the counter as the smaller singer wrapped his legs around Alex's waist, his arms around his neck. As Alex carried him back out to the porch, Ricky's head on his shoulder, he promised, "I'll kill anyone who hurts you again."

"No," Ricky said, rubbing his cheek against Alex's, "Just trust me. I can heal from anything, as long as you still think I'm wonderful."

The sun was golden, red, the beautiful Pacific sun over the ocean as Alex sat down on the porch steps. To compliment Ricky so openly, was to say that maybe he wasn't stupid, maybe he was right about Alex being worth being loved. That made him take a couple of slow breaths. "I will always think you're wonderful, brat, my wild little pink haired lover. I will trust you like the Earth trusts the sun, and I'll orbit around you forever."

"Hey," Ricky sat up, then shyly, almost as if he was kissing Alex for the first time, "You be the sun, I'll be the Earth. Cuz you're all golden and I got an Earthy mind."

"Dirty mind," Alex corrected, "Very dirty."

"Whatever," Ricky said, slipping off Alex's lap to sit beside him, holding his hand as they watched the sun slip into twilight. "What if I always flinch, when we have sex?"

"I'll love you and trust you if we never have sex again and I'll be happy so long as we wake up next to each other and you smile at me." He squeezed Ricky's hand slightly, avoiding his lover's searching look.

"If we never have sex again, we'll wear out my collection of your books."

Laughing, Alex teased, "I thought you used Gackt CDs."

"Hey! I have your books on CD. That works good." Ricky laid his head against Alex's shoulder. Alex laid his head against Ricky's head. "Alex."


"Thank you for trusting me."

Chapter Five

It was all there between them. It had to be for this moment. Ricky turned in the hall way that lead to the bedroom. Alex paused. If memories could be photos, sit on the desk, this the one he'd want. Ricky smiling so brightly, a smile that took up half his face. Shirt off, shoulders sunburned, just loose gray shorts and sandy feet, Ricky backed down the hall, hair shaking as he laughed. "Alex! Make love to me!"

Ricky had the most beautiful voice. Along with the happy, very much alive man who was his lover, today, Alex could see, as if it were a superimposed image, the battered and emotionally desperate boy screaming in the rain. They didn't have to be separate. The one did not represent the death of the other.

Alex closed the distance between them, planted his hands on the doorframe, leaning just enough that golden eyes could look right into violet. Ricky's giggle was so clean, so true to him, so deep into him, that Alex felt as if Ricky's laughter could ripple across his own soul, could reach to the boy he'd been so many years ago, so lost and hurt. Lips brushing against Ricky's ear as he spoke, kissing softly, even with his words, "How do you do it, reach so fucking deeply into me, make me into the boy I was once?"

Ricky's fingers slipped under the untucked edges of Alex's shirt, moving over pale skin, skin and body that time had passed over in some breath holding way. "Alex? I'm just me, just who I am. Do you want me to be different? I could try. I could take up writing travel journals, or something."

Hoarse, voice low and razed by emotion, "No. I want you just as you are, brat," he growled as he lifted Ricky from his feet with one hand. One arm around Ricky's waist, he held him close, carried him. "Whatever you are for the world, be yourself for me. I need you," Alex planted one knee on the bed and laid Ricky back on it, arm still under him, pinning him with his body. "I need you, Ricky. I need you as if I'll never find my way back into the light without you."

"Alex," Ricky purred, no more the innocent youth, the man just out of home, but wiser in ways than his lover, less weathered by time though, and the word, three sounds strung together like pink pearls, a spoken kiss, "Alex, I want you."

Alex lifted him with that one arm under him, drew him further up into the bed. They made love; five or six times a week, if one of them wasn't out signing books or too tired. There were so many ways to touch and pleasure a lover. There was one particular thing they had not done since Ricky had come screaming in the rain and Alex had found the bruises on his lover's body. Then they'd coupled, joined, even though Ricky cried in pain and held on for dear life, and Alex had died inside to do it. Nine months later, they had not crossed that line again.

Ricky had offered, begged, seduced, and Alex had distracted, refused, firmly offered other ways to share pleasure. At first it had been Ricky's fear that if he didn't, couldn't give that to Alex that he'd lose Alex's love. Then it had been a fear that Alex thought he was broken defiled, disgusting somehow. Nine months was too small a time to come so far forward, but this day had been special. Alex kissed Ricky's lips, sucked the lower one in between his teeth, licking at it as the smaller man purred, moaned, and wiggled out of his shorts.

Alex had moved onto Ricky's throat as a Ricky moved on to unbuttoning his shirt, getting still more innocent than skilled fingers over skin that Alex thought had turned to marble over the years. "No, I don't want that."

Ricky groaned and lifted his head to kiss, work over Alex's ear. "Okay, what do you want?"

"You take me."

Stillness. Ricky fell back to the bed, and Alex pulled his arm out from under Ricky, one hand resting to either side of Ricky's head. Now that was something they'd never done. "Alex?"

"You heard me," Vincent Alex said, lowering himself so they lay chest to chest. "Do you want to?"

Ricky bit his lip, hooking one leg around Alex's knee, as his fingertips reached up to slide across Alex's blond eyelashes. "You're crying."

"I'm scared." Alex said, the most vulnerable moment of his adult life.

"We don't have to. I'm ready, really, for you to take me though."

Alex drew a slow breath, and one teardrop fell on to Ricky's cheek, rolled down into pink hair. "No, I'm ready and I've waited longer. I'll talk you through it."

"Okay, Alex," Ricky said, knowing that Alex would be able to feel his erection through his pants. "You talk me through it."

"No one has," Alex said, leaving unspoken the scary part, "Not since Madrid."

"I like it when you touch me with your tongue," Ricky suggested, offering.

"Want to start with that," Alex asked.

Ricky nodded. "Want to wash a little and I'll light some candles & warm up the oil?"

Alex nodded and rolled off the bed. "Shower too. You've got sea salt everywhere."

"You're so mean!" Ricky teased, now on his hands and knees.

Shirt open, Alex needed two steps to close back to Ricky and catch his chin between his fingers, to kiss him firmly, controlling. "That mean enough for you?"

Ricky melted, lay on his back, arms hanging over the edge of the bed, head too, as he watched Alex walk towards the bathroom. "Damn, how am I supposed to think, let alone shower after a kiss like that? I could just lay here and float for hours!" If it had been anime, lavender hearts would have floated over Ricky's head, he would have poured off the bed into a boneless pool of Ricky in pink and glitter.

"You'll find a way, if you want to get laid. Use the shower outside. I'm using the one here." Alex said, shutting the door, his voice too tender to really be angry.

The shower outside was cold, nothing more than a way to rinse sand off before going inside and Ricky hopped from foot too foot, making little howling noises as he was being careful to wash every place. There were some parts of his body that never got used to cold water!

When he let himself back into the kitchen, he found a thick fluffy pink towel waiting for him. Slowly, drying off and chasing goosebumps, he went back to the bedroom.

Alex had beat him back and now lay in the center of the bed, on the sheet with the rest of the covers folded and laid over the back of the computer chair. A candle burned on either nightstand. The small candle was warming the oil in their special little warmer thing. Alex lay in the middle of the bed, a fact that Ricky need to think about again, to get his mind around that he was going to penetrate his lover for the first time.

Blond hair on black satin sheets, pale legs bent, spread wide, casting shadows over the golden hair around Alex's soft cock. "Oh, Alex, if you know," Ricky said, crawling onto the bed, on his hands and knees, leaving little drips of cold water. "If you don't want to."

"Ricky, I want to." It was said in a growling enforcer voice, the one Alex got when he'd made up his mind to finish a story at three in the morning after being up trying for days. Which only made the doubt in his next words more painful for Ricky to hear, "Unless you don't want to. Do you want me?"

Ricky knew that doubt, fear, and he soothed as best as he could by blowing on the inside of Alex's thigh, down towards those shadowy blond curls around Alex's privates. "I want to, but you're going to talk me through it, right? I wouldn't do a thing until you tell me."

"Touch my hair, there, you know my pubic hair," Alex said, sounding younger and less sure of himself than Ricky had ever heard him. "With your fingers."

Kneeling between Alex's bent knees, Ricky let his fingers brush the top of Alex's pubic hair, as soft as he'd brushed his wet eyelashes. "Like this?"

"Yes, but deeper, really touch, but don't touch my penis." Alex grabbed a pillow and propped himself up more, fingers nervously combing into his damp blond hair.

Ricky buried his fingers then, separated damp wet pubic hair, and combed it up. "It's very soft. It's so pretty, blond pubic hair. I wish mine was pink."

"Yeah? No dying that. Think about getting bleach on your balls," Alex laughed, imagining a screaming, howling Ricky, yelling, "My balls, my balls!"

"What are you imagining?" Ricky asked, curling blond pubic hair around his finger.

"You don't want to know, just don't bleach your pubs" Alex said, smiling adoringly at Ricky.

"Wouldn't have to bleach yours to make them pink. Can I kiss them?"

"Yes, kiss, but don't touch me," Alex let his words fade off, expecting Ricky to understand. "You can dye me pink there, next time you're going to some convention and you'll be gone a week."

Pubs held between his lips, Ricky looked up, eyes wide with surprise, imagining his worst fear, Alex with a female fan, the woman's eyes bugging out as she screams, 'You're pink down there!' Laughter caught him making him spit out hair, except for one that got on his tongue.

"What?" Alex snarled.

"I'll tell you if you tell me," Ricky offered, words mumbled as he chased one blond hair around in his mouth.

"Maybe later," Alex dodged, "When you're done chasing my hair, stick your tongue up me."

The sheer naughty vulgarity of it made Ricky's cock twitch, his belly tighten and he forgot about the hair, was back on his knees, fingers parting Alex's cheeks as the blond shifted, offering himself.

The skin wasn't like Ricky had expected. It was soft, smooth, folded over and gathered, tasting like Alex, like Alex's cheek or the back of Alex's neck, only his tongue slipped easily inside his lover. It was warmer inside and tasted like soap, slightly bitter, like Alex's weird French soap. Ricky didn't pull away though, because he was afraid Alex would think it was because of Alex, not the soap, so Ricky just closed his eyes, his forehead resting against Alex's soft scrotum, and thrust his tongue deep into the man he loved more than he could ever put into any story.

Alex's fingers caressed his hair, oblivious to any dark roots that might be there, caressing right into Ricky's heart and soul. "Oh, that does feel good," Alex said, comfortable. "Stop now."

Ricky pulled back, licking, once at Alex's ass, before Alex tensed and Ricky realized he hadn't been told it was okay to do that. "Sorry."

"Is okay," Alex said, but Ricky could hear the tension. He waited, doing nothing, just waiting.

"Sit up and put oil on yourself," Alex instructed, holding the warmed ceramic bowl of oil on his bare belly. "I want to watch you stroke yourself."

"Okay," Ricky said, dipping his fingers right into the oil, which dripped over Alex's belly, weighed down a few blond hairs. It made Ricky moan as he trailed oily fingers down his own cock. He wasn't as big as Alex and that had given him issues for a while, but in the end, like he didn't care if Alex wrote for books that appealed to people who wanted to compare it to the Iliad or for him and his comics. Anything Alex wrote was good. What mattered was the total amount of cock between them not who had the most, and that logic he'd never shared with his brilliant writer lover.

The oil and his slow movements up and down his own cock drove out all thought as he rubbed, thumb rubbing at the sensitive spot where his head made a little V.

"Have you ever thought about fucking me," Alex asked, fascinated by Ricky's fingers. "I like your dark hair. God, you're beautiful."

Ricky moaned, fingers all the way around himself, stroking slowly to his dark hair, then back up.

Crying again he sat up, caught Ricky by surprise, hand at the back of his head, as he drew him into a kiss, busted his lip on Ricky's teeth and got blood in their mouths, but refused to let go the kiss. Lip already swelling by the time he let Ricky go; he sniffed back tears. "Okay, put a finger inside me, a finger that you touched yourself with."

Ricky didn't argue or point out that Alex's lip was swelling, just leaned over and slipped a pointer finger into him, circling outside at the first, then pressing and sliding easily into the heat, the soft flesh that closed around him. His eyes went wide. "You're so hot inside!"

"So are you, hotter than any woman I ever did."

"Ouch," Ricky said, head lowering a little, until Alex caught his chin and lifted his eyes back up.

"I love you. I love you, Ricky and I will never make love to anyone else as long as you want me."

"I'll always want you." Ricky said, his lips lifting in a smile. "I busted your lip."

With a slight lisp, Alex whispers. "I know now put your cock in me."

"Put a pillow under your ass?"

"You too short little boy?"

"You're such an asshole, Alex!" Ricky said grabbing a pillow and smacked him with it, before shoving the pillow under Alex's now oily bottom. "Don't you want two fingers, scissors, you know, like you do to me?"

Alex said, eyes twinkling with laughter. "You're not as big as I am."

Ricky grimaced, inching forward on his knees, cock bouncing until Alex caught it and aimed it down. The first hit was right between the back of Alex's scrotum and his entrance and it was hard. They both looked at each other, Ricky feeling small and worried, and still hard enough that he could bite something. Alex was soft still, but he touched Ricky's cheek. "I'm never going to let you drive."

"I," Ricky said, then stressed the next couple words, "am not the one with a glove box full of speeding tickets!"

"Oh," Alex leaned back, relaxed, "you know about those?"

Ricky rolled his eyes. "I paid them," he said, voice very low, but the head of his cock was now pressing at that puckery oiled skin, circling as his finger had. "So many nerves at the tip! Did they just get there?"

"No, brat," Alex snarled, somewhat pissed that Ricky had paid his speeding tickets, "You've just had your brain in your ass not your cock! Ahhh!"

Ricky had slipped inside the ring of muscle. "Relax, Alex, like you told me, breath, relax."

"Did I say that?" Alex hissed, rolling his hips a little, reaching out to take a handful of Ricky's pink hair. "What else did I say?"

After that brief pause, Ricky pushed farther in, Alex's flesh closing in around him, hot and slick and, "How talk now..." buried all the way in, he closed his eyes and tried not to just cum, right there and then! "I think you said I should stop whining cuz it didn't hurt that badly."

"I said that? I'm an asshole." Alex tugged on Ricky's hair, pulling him closer.

"It does start feeling better, Alex, want me to stop?"

"You must love me a lot," Alex said, his other fingers caressing over Ricky's face the way a blind man might to memorize a face.

"No, you said that too, 'do you want me to stop'" Ricky said as he kissed Alex's fingers.

"It doesn't really hurt, not like I remember it did. Move, aim forward like I do to you."

"Aim? Fuck, Alex, I can't think that much!" Ricky said, and he felt himself rolled, so he was on his back and Alex was straddling him. "Owww, don't bend it!"

"If I break it, I'll buy it," Alex teased, slowly starting to stroke Ricky with himself, controlling it so that he was the one fucking almost and Ricky was his sweet little uke lover, writhing below him on the black satin. "You're beautiful."

"Aahhhhhhhh!" Ricky groaned, losing his pearls into Alex.

Alex held him, arms around him, holding Ricky's sweating face against his chest as the younger man seemed to pump, and twitch for way longer than he usually did. "Sweet god! Alex! Oh god, every time it backs off, you're still there, around me, oh man!"

"Ricky, you make me feel clean," Alex said, kissing pink hair, even though he could see the very tiny dark roots from this angle, and he knew that was a stupid cliché, but he felt that way, he did. He felt like he'd cleaned himself inside and out today, run pink Ricky through himself like Ricky brand soul floss. "No, you make me all brand new and yet still myself."

Shaking, Ricky reached up to touch Alex's back with one hand then the other, "But you haven't cum yet."

"Damn teenager, is that all you think about?" Alex said, not sounding like he was teasing, though Ricky knew he was. Then they were lying there, and Ricky reached to touch Alex's cock, which had never gotten hard.


"I just wanted something else right now." Alex said, getting up to grab the covers. "I'll take you later, hard, and make you cum again, but let's sleep a little first."

Satisfied, half asleep anyway, Ricky fell into sleep wrapped in Alex's arms. Alex's tears soaked into Ricky's hair, but they were happy tears, tears of freedom and renewal. "I trust you," he whispered, believing it now, as if he could believe in unicorns. "I really trust you."

Ricky didn't hear him, but Alex knew his little comic artist lover knew it anyways, and probably always had.