Thursday, April 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The Critters

Today, I’m taking a look back at some of the animals that have provided comic relief throughout the Firsts and Forever series. This began all the way back in All In (book 2 in the series) with Peaches, the zombie lap dog from hell. To me, he looked something like this:

And in All I Ever Wanted, my work in progress, I’m bringing back Puffy the Attack Cat for an encore. Is it just me, or do Persian cats always look slightly pissed off?

But one of my favorites has to be the Royal Rodent.

In Skye Blue, the sixth book in the series, Skye ends up adopting a mouse that hitches a ride to his apartment in a junkyard find. He makes a home for it in a big, metal bird cage shaped like the Taj Mahal. Here’s the scene where he sees the rodent for the first time and inadvertently dyes it pink:

Just then, a little white mouse stuffed itself out of a gap in the corner of my new sign and blinked his beady black eyes at me. I gasped and leapt up, pressing myself against the wall. Holy hell! How was I going to get that thing out of my bed without actually touching it?
A moment later, I was startled all over again. The weird, blond-haired cat from the other night leapt up onto the bed and pinned the mouse with one paw, then shot me a slightly evil look that seemed to say, “Want me to kill this for you?” The window was still open a few inches, but I hadn’t seen him come in.
I looked around frantically, then grabbed a mostly empty glass from my nightstand. The cat stepped back as I inverted the tumbler and slammed it down over the mouse. It had contained maybe half an inch of fruit punch diluted with melted ice, which doused the little rodent. The mouse shook itself like a dog, its fur puffing out and sticking up in wet, now-pink spikes, then went back to staring at me, this time through the glass.
I kept an eye on it as I sat back down, pressing the glass firmly against the mattress. I’d been using my computer as a shield throughout all of that, and I returned it to my lap and looked at the screen. BoxerBoy had sent a few messages, along the lines of still there? Did I lose you? I quickly explained the mouse situation, typing with one hand since I wasn’t about to let go of the glass. Now that got a ‘LOL.’
River knocked on my door and swung it open far enough to stick his head in. “Conrad’s waiting downstairs, I got all my stuff loaded in his Honda. I’m leaving that secondhand bed and desk, maybe your new roommate can use it once you find someone.”
“Great. Whatever.”
“Look Skye, I know we’re both kind of pissed right now, but this is for the best. You’ll see.” He noticed the mouse-under-glass then and didn’t say anything about it, as if he fully expected to come into my room and find me playing with pink, puffy rodents. “I’ll call you soon.” He pulled the door shut behind him.


Not many people would try to keep a wild mouse as a pet. Skye's just the type of person who would, though. And, maybe, just maybe, I tried this once, too. Mice are really good at chewing through things when they want to escape, just FYI. :) 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Gianni & Zan & the Buddha’s Hand

Today, I’m looking back at Belonging, the 8th book in the Firsts and Forever Series. I had so much fun writing Gianni and Zan! I didn’t set out with the intention of writing a May-December romance, but putting these two characters together made so much sense to me. 

Gianni Dombruso was this beautiful guy in his late twenties who should have had all the confidence in the world, but instead, he was so insecure and thought no one would ever value him as more than a pretty face. And then there was Zan Tillane, my British former rock star, who’d totally cut himself off from the rest of the world. They both needed rescuing, though neither would admit it.

(Actor and Rock Star Jared Leto was my muse for Zan Tillane)

In the following scene from Belonging, Gianni and Zan aren’t a couple yet. Gianni has taken on the job of grocery shopping for the reclusive rock star and has made it his mission to broaden Zan’s closed off world. He thinks a step in the right direction is to introduce some exotic foods into Zan’s very limited diet. But the Buddha’s hand citrus fruit might be one step too far:

Fortunately, Zan snapped me out of my completely misplaced reverie by snatching the canvas sack from me. He stuck his hand inside and pulled out what I’d brought him, then yelled, “Bloody hell, what is that?” as he tossed it onto the counter. 

“It’s called a Buddha’s hand. It’s a citrus fruit.”

“It isn’t! It’s a fat, yellow octopus!”

“Not even close.”

“The thing has tentacles! Where did you find this monstrosity?”

“The market,” I said flatly.

“There’s absolutely no way that’s fruit, or even edible!”

“It is! I want you to try it, I hear they’re good.”

“Aha! You hear they’re good. That means you’ve never been daft enough to try one yourself. I won’t be the first one down that gangplank!” He plucked it off the counter by one of its long, yellow fingers and rushed for the back door as I ran after him.

“Don’t you dare throw that thing! It was expensive!”

“And now it’s doubly crazy! Also, just look. You yourself called it a thing!”

“Only because it sounds pretty freaking insane to yell don’t throw Buddha’s hand outside!” He flung open the back door and went to throw it, but I grabbed his arm as I exclaimed, “I mean it! Don’t do it!”

A ridiculous game of keep-away ensued, worthy of a third grade playground. I burst out laughing and told him, “You’re being really immature!”

Zan was laughing, too. “It belongs outside,” he said as he twisted his body to hold the fruit away from me. “That way, it can crawl back to the mothership!”

“Granted, it’s a little weird looking, but it’s a fruit! Its cousin is an orange!”

“Maybe you should have brought me its cousin, then,” he said, grabbing my left wrist while I grabbed his.

“You’ve had oranges! I wanted you to try something new.”

“So you brought me an octopus alien!”

“Okay, I’ll concede that I might have been aiming a bit too high. But try it anyway! I’ll reel it in next time and bring you some grapes or something.”

“I don’t like grapes,” he said.

“You can’t make a blanket statement like that,” I told him. “There are dozens of grape varieties and they’re all different. If you tried a few, I bet you’d find one you liked.”

“But they’re all squishy little balls, and I want no part of that.”

“God you’re weird.”

“You think?”

He executed a surprisingly graceful move all of a sudden and pinned me to the wall, holding me in place by leaning against me. “You’re going to injure your sore shoulder,” I told him.

“It’ll be worth it for the immense satisfaction of seeing the space octopus become airborne,” he said with a smile.

My heart was already beating quickly because of our game of keep-away, and it stuttered when I looked in his eyes. He let go of my wrist and I let go of his, both of us becoming serious at the same time. My gaze dropped to his full lips. I wanted him to kiss me so fucking bad. God I wanted that.

But he didn’t do it. He didn’t do anything. Zan just stood there, his body pressed against mine as lust shot through me. He was breathing hard just like I was, his chest rising and falling, but aside from that, he remained perfectly immobile. 

Was he waiting for me to make a move? I looked in his eyes again and seriously considered leaning in and planting one on him. But I just couldn’t do it! What if I was the only one feeling this? What if I went to kiss him and he pulled away? How incredibly embarrassing would that be?

Besides, if he wanted to kiss me, he would. It wasn’t like he was shy, given what he used to do for a living. There was just no way.

Zan stepped back from me abruptly and muttered, “Sorry.” Then he (and the fruit) went back to his cave. He closed the door to the den behind him. I stared after him for a moment before I retreated too, heading straight for my car.


Gianni and Zan ended up falling in love and taking off in a sailboat for parts unknown, to dodge the relentless paparazzi. This photo reminds me so much of Gianni in the tropics, gathering up local delicacies to bring back to his boyfriend!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Twin Peaks (but not the David Lynch variety)

One of my favorite spots in San Francisco is a scenic overlook called Twin Peaks. When I first moved to the city, I was lucky enough to become friends with a gay couple who’d lived there for years. They showed me a lot of the city’s hidden treasures, including this gem. I was instantly smitten.

You get to Twin Peaks by winding through a residential neighborhood, and all of a sudden, the tightly packed buildings give way to open space. I’ve always thought that’s an interesting thing about San Francisco. It’s all completely built up, some of it along incredibly steep hills, but then there are a few high-up spots that have basically been left untouched. Twin Peaks is one of them.

Like anyplace in San Francisco, it gets crowded in the summer. But pick a random weeknight in the off-season and you just might have it to yourself. It’s pure magic then, when the only sound is the breeze rustling through the trees, and before you is this breathtaking, panoramic view of one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

I send my characters to Twin Peaks fairly often, because I know if I still lived in the city, I’d be up there all the time. It has particular meaning for Chance and Finn in Coming Home. Here’s a brief excerpt from their book, which is number nine in the series. Chance and Finn aren’t a couple yet at this point. They arranged a rendezvous up at Twin Peaks, but then Chance got spooked and took off, because he was afraid that Finn was getting too close to him:

After a few minutes, I realized the SUV hadn’t driven past me, and I started to wonder if Finn was alright. I shut off the engine and pocketed my keys, then walked back up to the parking lot. I’d barely driven two blocks before I’d pulled over.

My heart leapt when I saw him. He was standing on the retaining wall with his arms outstretched. My God, was he about to jump?

I yelled his name and took off at a sprint across the parking lot. At one point, I tripped over a pothole and came down hard on my hands and knees, but I was right back up in an instant, running for him. Finn turned to look at me, then stepped off the wall into the parking lot. 

He’d taken a couple steps toward me and when I reached him, I knocked him over in what basically turned into a flying tackle. He landed on his back with a surprised yelp, and I fell on top of him. I then sat up, straddling him, and grabbed the front of his jacket in my fists. “What the fuck were you thinking, Finn?” 

“About what?” He looked genuinely bewildered.

“About fucking jumping off Twin Peaks! What a horrible way to kill yourself! You probably wouldn’t even die you know, you’d just mangle yourself real good on the trees and bushes and shit down below. Not that I’m advocating finding a better way to kill yourself! Just, God, what the fuck?”

When my rant was over, Finn chuckled and said as he pulled me into a hug, “I wasn’t trying to kill myself. I was just enjoying the view and the breeze. I didn’t think I’d fucked up badly enough to warrant throwing myself off a cliff.”

“Oh. Well, good,” I said, putting my head on his chest.

He rubbed my back and said, “You were really worried.”

“Well, yeah.”

He kissed the top of my head and said, “Thank you for caring.”

“You’re welcome. I feel like a total idiot now, though.”

“Don’t. I love the fact that you tried to save me.”

“Of course I did. What do you think I’d do in that situation, sit back with some popcorn and watch you end it?”