Thursday, December 25, 2014

Holiday Story: A Thieves Solstice, Part 2

Now for the conclusion of a story begun yesterday as a holiday Wednesday Brief. Vorgell fears wolves less than not having a gift for Madd for Solstice...

Want to start at the beginning? CLICK here.

Happy Holidays from me and the boys to you!

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A Thieves Solstice (conclusion)


Vorgell rudged up the last few stone steps to the door of the apartment he shared with Madd and touched the spell stone. That and a softly spoken word opened the door. It was not dark enough yet to tell if someone had lit a fire within. As soon as the door opened he felt the warmth and smelled the delicate fragrance of good almond wood and a whiff of meat pie. Madd reclined on low cushions scattered in front of the small hearth. With his black hair, and boyish body and face, the silken garments he favored gave him the look of a pampered prince of far off lands. He lifted a glass half filled with purple wine.

“The warrior returns,” he saluted.

“I’ve had a long day.” After letting Petal leap from his arm to the floor, Vorgell made a quick scan of their abode. They had only the one room, and a closet for the privy. His gaze lit upon the object at Madd’s right hand, a large bundle wrapped in what looked like soft hide and tied with red rope. His heart dropped, at least one rib, at the size of Madd’s gift.

He’d visited every merchant stall on the Street of Bellmakers, and those on the Street of Jewelers and the Street of Seven Fortunate Crafts. His late entry into the race to acquire a perfect gift had meant most of the best gifts being gone or beyond the vendors’ ability to create upon short notice. Even if choice leather were still on hand, it took four days to make a pair of good boots, and even his gold could not make the process shorter. It had been the same at the blade smith; the best knives were well picked over and it took too many days to craft a fine handle. He’d visited clothiers, silver wrights, goldsmiths and even an old cottage witch who might have some readymade spells for Madd’s trove, all to no avail.

The sun hurled brilliant orange light through the room’s one window, where Petal now squatted with an eye to unwary creatures stirring in the landlord’s garden. The basilisk’s presence was well-known enough that thieves or other scoundrels were infrequent trespassers. Only Reannry or the thief king Tagard ever braved a visit.

After removing his ram’s wool cloak and carry pack, he joined Madd on the cushions. His witchkin friend handed him a second glass, also filled with what proved to be a very good, if sweet, wine. Vorgell downed it with a grateful gulp, earning a predictable roll of Madd’s black eyes.

“Civilizing you is going to take the rest of my life.”

“May we both live long,” Vorgell responded, holding out his glass for more. Madd poured from an amphora of pale blue glass bound with leather and gold. Madd liked fine things and wasn’t above stealing those he fancied. This one had come from a visiting prince of Oldallia. The amphora’s cap sparked with sapphires and rubies.

“You keep drinking like that you’ll die tonight and be already pickled.”

“My people never die on the night of winter solstice. The Wolf Father created men on that day and his bitch wife is forbidden to collect souls on the eve of the world’s rebirth.”

“What do your people know? They drink bloody milk. It’s disgusting. Wine is a drink for civilized men.”

“Who die on the winter solstice.” Vorgell thumped Madd on the back with the hand not holding his drink. “What have you there beside you? Something you thieved for Tagard and are waiting until after dark to deliver?”

“You cannot possibly be so potted or dense that you don’t know a Solstice gift when you see one.”

“This is true. I know very well what it is.”

“Then you can also surmise it’s for you.” Madd gave the bundle a pat. It sounded reassuringly substantial. The only other facts Vorgell could ascertain were that it was not hollow or made of wood.

“No doubt also the reason why you’ve been acting strangely. Several times over the last two weeks I’ve woken to find you standing over me with your arms outstretched and holding pieces of string. I believe I accused you of plotting to strangle me.”

“A deed more easily done than what I was actually doing. Do you know your shoulders are nearly as broad as my armspan?”

Vorgell lifted an eyebrow. He did have broad shoulders. “Did you know I tried to tail you but was thwarted when you took to the rooftops?”

“Yes. Catching glimpse of your clumsy ass was why I took to the rooftops. I know your great bulk makes moving across them difficult.”

“My weight does tend to crush roof tiles.” Such was not the case with Madd, who was as short and lithe as a boy and would have made a fine dancer had he not chosen to be a thief.

“So stay off roofs and stop following me.” Madd shot him a triumphant smirk. “I came back by rooftops, too, because I know how you like to stake out my favorite alleyways.”

“You’ve been very elusive.”

“Only because I wanted to surprise you.”

“You have. I only figured out this morning the reason for your strange behavior.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I come from different customs. For solstice in my country we strip naked and plunge into hot springs where we stay and share manly tales until ice forms on our beards.”

Madd’s eyes narrowed to black slits. “Yes, I remember.”

It taken three brawny Scurrians to strip Madd and toss him into a hot spring but they had done so. Vorgell had arrived in time to witness the immersion, whereupon he had stripped himself and jumped in to assert his right to small, pretty and naked man’s company. Even so, Madd had yet to completely forgive him for having subjected him to the rough ways of the steppes.

“Afterward,” he continued, “we gorge. Gorging is the best way to send out the year and bring in the new. That and a long night of screwing.”

“I’d choose screwing any time over taking a bath in water that freezes on my balls. Or gorging on what Scurrians call food.”

“Hot blood and milk,” Vorgell recalled fondly. “Great hunks of mutton. Goose livers and boiled corn.”

“I bought meat pies. Big juicy ones stuffed with minced meats and healthy vegetables. We’ll eat meat pie, drink Gallenian wine, and I will give you this present.”

“And then maybe we can screw?” Vorgell’s cock perked at that. It didn’t need much by way of encouragement and was already standing stiffly at full mast.

“That depends on your gift.” When Vorgell glowered—because he really didn’t like sex to be dangled as a reward—Madd laughed. “Fuck you. Just because you’re up for sex every time you see a shapely ass, including the one that tax collector rides—doesn’t mean I can be had every time you wave a stiff prick. My ass needs coaxing. It needs to feel special.”

“Everything about you is special. Special to me.”

Madd’s broad grin shifted to become a tender smile. “Same to you, big guy.” He turned to pick up the hide-wrapped bundle. “My gift to you at the world’s end. That’s what your people say, right? That the world ends tonight? Well, this is for you to wear.”

The bundle had weight. It was not solid but had some give as Vorgell took it in his hands. The soft hide was tanned and large, probably from one of the great aurochs still found in Vorgell’s homeland. The scarlet cord was thick and supple and could be retained for future use. He untied it and opened the hide. Within lay a glorious mound of thick, heavy fur.

“It’s a cloak,” Madd explained, though Vorgell could see that for himself as he pulled it out. “It’s made of wolfskins, like those of your home country. Actually”—he hastened to point out—“it’s made of skin from the same wolves that kept me up with their howling in your home country. Scurrian skins. Not many make it to Gurgh so I had to arrange with a trader to get the right kind.”

Vorgell stood and placed the cloak over his shoulders. “This is very fine! And beautifully made!”

He had never worn a better cloak. The great wolf skins were dense and heavy, the weight on his shoulders made him feel powerful. The pelts shaded from palest silver to gray. Long silver guard hairs gave it a shimmering splendor that rivaled the cloaks of even the mightiest of Scurrian chiefs. His own father’s great cloak had not been so magnificent. Tears welled to his eyes but he blinked them away.

“Many thanks, little mage. This is the best gift I have ever received.”

“You are my Sun, so I—I want you to be warm, and safe, and”—to see Madd struggling for words was rare—“and you have no fashion sense. As skin cloaks go, this one at least makes a statement that you’re a barbarian to be reckoned with.”

His size made that statement, however Madd was right about the cloak enhancing any man’s presence. He would need to be armed whenever he went out in this, to fight off any who might seek to take it from him.

He knelt before Madd, who had sat up on the cushions, watching with dark, soulful eyes to gauge his reaction. Putting his hand behind Madd’s head, twining his fingers in soft black hair, he pulled the other man to him and into a long, deep kiss. As always, Madd tasted like home, like man and wine and sex. There was a hardness to him, something that would never be soft, but it was open and welcoming and so generous it took his breath away. He kissed him twice more, between needed breaths, then looked into eyes that looked happier than those of the hunted, haunted man he had first met not two years ago.

“You hunted these very skins for me?”

“Not myself. I paid a man to get them for me. And a furrier to make the cloak. I needed to know what size to make it, so when you were sleeping I’d measure whatever I could of you with string. I guess it worked because it sure looks good on you.”

“It’s perfect. And you’re perfect. My Sun.” He rose and went to the carry bag he had ported around to every merchant in Gurgh. He pulled something from it and returned to Madd, where he put it between them. “This is for you.”

A single golden fruit sat upon the blue velvet cushion.

“A pear?”

Though Madd, mercifully, didn’t look disappointed, he did look mystified. It was, as pears went, a perfect specimen. Its golden skin glowed warm in the mellow light and it was at the peak of ripeness, its rich scent rising to envelope them both and induce a mouth-watering temptation to sink teeth into it and suck at its juices.

“You are my Sun, and I needed a gift that would convey my feelings for you. I started late, and I looked high and low, in places respectable and of total disrepute and there was no gift worthy of my feelings. Jewels there were, but jewels are hard and cold and people admire their glitter, and see them as things of value, but my feelings for you are that you are the thing of value. I saw knives and swords with bright blades, but blades are sharp and biting and people fear them, but my feelings have nothing in them of fear unless it be fear of losing you. People steal these things but nothing can ever steal away my feelings for you. Clothing and fabrics will tear or rip or become threadbare with age, but my feelings for you never will.

“My feelings are such that I wish to become part of you.” It was not easy to explain what he felt about either Madd or his gift. “I wish to sustain you, nourish you, keep you whole and living. This pear is living. It was picked this morning from the glass enclosed garden of the Sun Temple by the hands of one of the Virgins there. May my gift give you magic and life, and become part of you, and keep you healthy and whole.”

Madd looked at him in wonder. “You’re quoting some poet, right?”

Vorgell brushed his fingers down Madd’s cheek. “No. I have no tongue for poetry. Part of my gift is that I let you know what I feel.”

All at once Madd’s arms were around his neck. “You oaf. You big amazing oaf.” His silken lips brushed Vorgell’s ear and launched a firestorm of want. “Fuck the wolf skin cloak. This pear is the best gift any man ever got. I’ve stolen or enjoyed everything a man could ever want in a hundred lifetimes, and still you manage to top it all.”

Carefully taking the pear and putting it next to the amphora of wine, Vorgell rolled Madd under him on the cushions. Part of the wolf skin cloak now lay under Madd’s head, so that his hair spread out against fur of the finest silver. He looked decadent, priceless, and just a bit wicked. Vorgell’s blood heated, and not only because it was a rare treat to get his witchkin partner in so yielding a mood. Not to mention his cock was now so hard it might just burst if he did not put it to work. He planted his knees to either side of Madd’s delectable body.

“If that’s settled,” he growled, “I say it’s time we get to gorging and screwing.” His partner’s silk trousers did nothing to hide the outline of Madd’s erection.

“You gorge. I screw.”

“We will both gorge and screw until the world has ended. And we will welcome the reborn world with full bellies and tired cocks.” Vorgell could think of no better way to greet a new dawn. He lowered his head to nip at Madd’s collarbone, provoking a most provocative arching of the other man’s back.

“And heavy heads from all the drink.” Madd was kissing his hair now and clutching at his arms. “Take off the cloak. One of us is bound to spray come on the damn thing.”

It was too fine to risk. Vorgell unclasped it and flung it to safety across the room. He returned attention to his partner and was surprised when Madd grabbed him by the jerkin and hauled him down for more kisses. He worked his hands over Madd’s chest, moved them down over his ribcage to the taut, hard body and then his ass. When Madd arched again, he hurried to loosen the drawstring on the silk pants and tug them down over those taut thighs, freeing Madd’s straining cock. It sprang up to slap Vogell’s belly, leaving a wet trail.

“I shall never have my fill of you,” Vorgell murmured.

“Hold on a moment.” Madd rolled to reach for the pear. He took it and a small knife he’d laid near the wine and cut several slices. He ate one slice. Then with a naughty grin he rubbed another up and down his rigid cock.

Someone was asking to be eaten.

With a bellow of enthusiasm, Vorgell positioned Madd’s legs over his shoulders and sucked on his cock, savoring the sweet taste of pear and aroused male. Only when Madd cried out he was close, did Vorgell offer him mercy. It took barely any of his brawn to flip Madd over onto his hands and knees. Though he could not take Madd’s ass with so little preparation, he found nearly as much pleasure using his cock between the other man’s thighs. That too was hot and tight. Taking two slices of pear, he squeezed them until the juices ran sticky and clear over his cock just before he slid into place.

Madd moaned and rolled his pelvis, providing even more friction as Vorgell’s cock, slippery with pear juice and pre-come, pushed along his scrotum to rub along his erection.

“Moondeath, Vorgell! Gods—”

That and similar utterances drove him on. Wrapping one arm under Madd’s body, he drew him close and held him nearly immobile as he quickened his pace. Fucking was something he enjoyed too well not to take advantage of his opportunities. For most of their encounters Madd was the one on top. 

With every thrust he felt himself giving, sharing himself body and soul. The man in his arms bucked and howled with pleasure. When Madd reached down and wrapped both hands around their stiff cocks, Vorgell offered up a mighty groan of his own and surrendered, plunging wildly until both of them grunted and shuddered and shot come onto the cushions in thick jets. It took all Vorgell’s presence of mind to pull Madd upright with him so they could topple back—Madd’s body atop his heavily breathing one—onto the cushions they had not soiled.

As their breathing slowed and their hearts found the same rhythm, Vorgell’s only thought was that such fine fucking as this was always over too soon. He wished he could fuck Madd for days, though ordinary sense told him neither of them would truly enjoy such a marathon. But he wished it were possible. Sex for him was more than an opportunity for release and a chance to enjoy a delicious malaise.

“I love you,” he said, because he did.

“I love your dick.” It was what Madd always said. That there was some truth to what he said made his saying it bearable… and so did the way he tilted his head back and smiled so warmly. “You know why I gave you the cloak, right? I gave it because I knew you’d look fucking noble and strong, exactly the way you really are, the way I always see you, and I want the whole world to see it. Gurgh’s a shithole. And you’re the only man in it who isn’t a piece of shit.”

“So you gave me a cloak fit for a prince?”

“Yeah. Because you’re… you’re my Sun, too. My fucking Sun. The thought of a world without you in it makes me sick. I can’t imagine anyplace darker, and I’ve spent lots of time in dark places. Whatever your reason for wanting to be with me, I’m glad, because—I’m really happy you’re you, and you’re with me and not someone else.”

Vorgell pulled Madd down to his side and tucked him close. Solstice would yield to dawn and the increasing days of a new year, but two men who had found their Suns in each other had nothing to fear. 

NEVER THE END

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Hope you enjoyed this little story. I certainly enjoyed writing it and there’s more to come. All comments and/or questions are welcome. *hugs*

Happy Holidays for all, and a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: A Thieves Solstice, Part 1

Because of the holiday, this Wednesday Brief takes a brief hiatus from RATTLETRAP to feature a bit of seasonal fun. Yes, it’s a Thick as Thieves holiday story. Vorgell and Madd may have no clue what Christmas is all about, because in their world the initiating event never happened, but hope and love exist in every world, as does gift-giving.

In this short story, which starts today with 1000 words and finishes tomorrow, the boys exchange gifts in their own fashion.

What prompt did I use? Red, gift, bow.

“Rattletrap” will continue after the New Year.

Happy Holidays!

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A Thieves Solstice


“Madd’s behaving strangely,” Vorgell confided to his friend Reannry.

He fell into step beside the dainty gray-cloaked witch. Reannry had just emerged onto the street by way of a little known gate beside a laundry. The laundry abutted a wall leading into the Nightingale Quarter and so served as a secret passage into and out of the restricted neighborhood. Even at this early hour, the Street of Bellmakers was lined with merchants and vendors.

Reannry’s brown eyes flicked at him, taking in Vorgell’s broad form and the basilisk coiled within the warm folds of cloak around his neck. “Madd behaving strangely is nothing new.”

“He came in very late last night. And he left again before dawn.”

“And I’m supposed to know what that might mean?” She stopped at a cart and gave the walleyed child tending it two copper coins, in return for which she received a brace of husks wrapped with a bow. “So warm! I love hot cake in the morning. Here, have one.”

Vorgell took the offering in hand. He teased open the laced corn husk to get at the soft cake within. The mound of ground corn was fragrant with cinnamon, honey, and raisins. Though very different from the sturdy breads of his native land, he’d gotten used to the mushy texture and complex flavors. He pried a hunk free and offered it to Petal. The basilisk hissed and turned her head aside.

“Madd confides his jobs to me. We have very few secrets.” That wasn’t strictly true. Madd was a trove of hidden things. But what he did with his time had never been one of them.

“Everybody has secrets. Besides, it’s Winter Solstice and the Eve of Gifts to the Sun. He might just be working on your gift.”

“Gift?”

“Solstice? Rebirth of the Sun? The time to give the sun in your life a gift?”

Vorgell had heard talk of gift-giving. For weeks merchants had been crying that their wares were perfect for “the sun in your life”, though he’d dismissed those words as mere poetry evoking Gurgh’s most-worshipped god. The Temple of the Sun dominated both the landscape and the city’s official holy days. As for the Solstice… every civilized people observed the occasion in some form or other. Though Madd had said something about making this Solstice special.

Vorgell reached beneath the lacings of his heavy wool jerkin and fingered the amulet Madd had given him at last year’s solstice.

“The sun in your life, does that mean what I think it does? The most important person?”

Reannry licked a crumb of sweet cake from the corner of her lips. “Yes. The one who gives your life light and joy. The warm center of your world. Your heart. Lovers. Family. Anyone can be a sun. Gillja and I give each other gifts. We’re sisters, after all. And this year”—she gave him an especially meaningful glance—“I have something special planned for someone tonight. Which is why I can’t spend all day talking with you. Madd is the one you should be talking with.”

“If I knew where to find him. I need to know if he is getting me a gift.”

“You don’t want to be surprised?”

Vorgell loved surprises. What he disliked was coming up small. “What do people give each other as gifts? What do men give each other?”

She waved her hand, cake and all. “How would I know? I’m not a man.” Her little brows drew together. “Men give me mittens.”

Would Madd like mittens? Winters in Gurgh were cold. Just two nights ago, it had snowed.

“I don’t think men like mittens,” Reannry stopped walking. “I’m going this way, but you”—she pointed up the street—“should go that way. The merchants will be happy to help you if you have coin.”

“Some.” He was frugal, so carried little. But he could if necessary get his hands on more. “Don’t go just yet. I’m a stranger to your customs and—”

“No, you’re not. You’ve lived in Gurgh for two years.”

“True. But—”

“But nothing. I don’t have enough time to help you find the perfect gift.” She rolled her eyes. “Let’s see… Ibeena’s cat just had kittens.”

Vorgell turned his head to look at Petal. Her jewel-hued eyes glinted. “No. I don’t think Petal would welcome another pet.”

“You’re right. She’d probably eat it. Look, if you want to give Madd a gift, doing so’s not hard. Find something that conveys your feelings for him.”

“Words do that.” But words were for prayers, proclamations, and promises. Solstice gifts were of a different nature. “Just tell me what witch males give each other to express deep bonds.”

Her expression softened. “Nothing. Among witchkin, adult men give gifts to women, to their mothers and wives, or women they hope to become wives.”
She understood that neither he nor Madd was interested in courting women, though they were not exactly courting each other. Vorgell pursued Madd sexually, certainly, and he would kill any man who tried to get between them, but gift-giving belonged in a different realm. 

Courtship was confusing.

“What do witch women give their men?”

“Food. Knives. Clothing. A nice belt or boots.” Her pretty lips curved up at the ends. “I’m on my way to pick up some boots I had made for a certain man who lives several hours from here and—if I am to get them to him by sunset, which is the proper time for Solstice gifts—I really do have to run.” Reannry turned and dashed up the street. Her shoes flashed red and her cloak flared behind her as she vanished into the growing crowd.

He was alone. Frost limned the pointy rooftops of Gurgh, but morning was already high and he had no gift to give. He couldn’t face Madd this Solstice night without a gift in his hands. Vorgell stalked toward the nearest merchant.

“I have coin! Show me your finest wares!”


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This story's a gift from me and the boys. Hope you enjoy it! Another 3500 words will conclude it tomorrow.

For more fun holiday and regular Wednesday Briefs free reads, check out these other Briefers:





Monday, December 22, 2014

Chris T. Kat and Swordplay

Not only is Chris T. Kat one of my favorite novelists, her Jeff Woods thrillers set in Atlantic City are wonderful reading. Now that Woods has moved on to Washington, DC, his adventures get even more hair-raising! If you love detective novels, check these out.



Buy links:
Dreamspinner Press:

Blurb:
After leaving his dream job as an Atlantic City detective, Jeff Woods has moved to Washington DC with his life partner Alex Fisher and Alex's disabled little brother Sean. Parker Trenkins, Jeff’s ex-partner on the force, has made the move as well, along with his significant other David. Jeff and Parker partner up once again, but in a new way, as owners of their own detective agency.
Life is difficult at the best of times. Sean loses sight in one of his eyes, a direct result of being pushed into the Atlantic by a homicidal maniac a year ago. In his struggle to deal with everything, a restless Alex enrolls in Tai Chi classes at a nearby school.
As it happens, a murder case Jeff and Parker take involves the head of that very Tai Chi School, Charles Cooper. Cooper is a suspect in the murder of a financial corporation official. He appears to have motive. Jeff and Parker's investigation arouses the real killer’s interest, and if they don't uncover his identity soon, it may be too late for them.


Excerpt from Chapter One:
“Earth to Jeff. Someone in there?” Parker was standing next to me, waving his hand in front of my face.
“Fuck off, Parker.”
“Wow. Remind me not to talk to you before you’ve had decent caffeine input. Now, come on, why are you so tired? I’m your new shrink, remember?” Parker blinked his blue eyes at me in mock-offense, flipping a lock of black hair back.
I snorted. Coffee aroma filled the air, and the water bubbled enticingly. After rubbing my hands over my eyes, I leaned back in the chair and looked up at him. The man drove me crazy on a daily basis, but he was my best friend—right after Alex, my lover, of course.
“Oh boy, this is going to be a long story, isn’t it? Hang on, I need to sit down.” With a theatrical flourish, he heeled a chair closer and fell onto it with gleeful expectation written all over his face.
“Sean’s going to lose sight in his left eye.”
Parker’s mouth dropped open, and for a long time neither of us said anything. I stared at him, wondering whether I should’ve cushioned my words a bit. His jaw muscles tightened, and he worked hard to get words out of his mouth. I’d probably worn a similar expression yesterday when Alex broke the news to me after the visit with the eye specialist. Sean was only seven years old—only seven. Didn’t he’d already suffer enough with his cerebral palsy?
“You can’t just drop a bomb like that without giving me fair warning,” Parker protested.
I shrugged. “Sorry.”
“Are you sure?”
I gave a curt nod. My eyes stung stupidly. Alex had tried so hard to keep it together, but in the end he’d wept for hours, cuddled up against me. He’d cried endlessly for his little brother and what he had to go through. I’d feared he’d make himself sick—which he had, but only once—and when he’d finally fallen asleep, I’d lain awake in our bed, helpless and hurting.
“What about another opinion? Maybe—”
“Parker, that was the third opinion. We noticed he was getting clumsier and he was losing focus on his left side. His sight in that eye has gone down to ten percent, and it won’t take long for the rest to vanish too. We’ll cope.”
Whether I wanted to reassure myself or Parker didn’t really matter, did it? At least I’d had enough presence of mind not to throw that platitude around when I talked to Alex. He never bought into any of them. Parker, however, did from time to time.
“Does Sean know?”
Pain closed like a vise around my throat, and I coughed in a deliberate attempt to get rid of it. “Yes. We explained it to him.”
“How did he react?”
I grimaced. “He was worried about his other eye, but the doc said it was okay. Sean’s main concerns were if he was still allowed to go to school and if we’d still love him.”
I bolted from the chair, choking on my last words, and stalked over to the coffeemaker. I poured milk into Parker’s mug, added two spoonfuls of sugar, then attempted to grab the glass carafe. My hands shook.
Parker materialized next to me, nudged me aside, and filled our mugs. I was still blinking against the wetness in my eyes. Maybe it was a good thing I’d had no time for breakfast earlier. I wasn’t sure if it would’ve stayed down anyway. Alex hadn’t even tried to eat this morning. He’d been white as a sheet when I left. I hadn’t wanted to come to work, but the money had to come in from somewhere and—

Chris T. Kat
Chris T. Kat lives in the middle of Europe, where she shares a house with her husband of many years and their two children. She stumbled upon the M/M genre by luck and was swiftly drawn into it. She divides her time between work, her family—which includes chasing after escaping horses and lugging around huge instruments such as a harp—and writing. She enjoys a variety of genres, such as mystery/suspense, paranormal, and romance. If there's any spare time, she happily reads for hours, listens to audiobooks or does cross stitch.


Links:

Friday, December 12, 2014

Seven Things About Me

It’s difficult to strike a balance between private and public life when posting a personal blog. Some writers share everything about their lives and others share almost nothing. I recently realized that finding out more about my favorite bloggers actually makes me want to visit them more. If the page views of my "About Me" page tell me anything, it’s that my readers also like to find out more about me. I’m not very exciting, but here’s a glimpse at a few bits of my life.


Packers Football


There simply is no sport quite like American football. I grew up a Green Bay Packers fan (that’s what happens when you’re born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) and no matter where my father dragged the family, we dragged our Packer fandom with us. This makes me a bona fide Cheesehead, something even Eagles fans here in Philadelphia respect because, you see, Packer fans are the real deal. Every week Packer fans turn a frigid stadium in a small American city into a fortress of fandom. No one else pulls it off with quite the same verve. Packer fans freeze their nuts off for their team and do it while wearing wedges of cheese on their heads. Though I don't wear a cheesehead at home, I have a fantasy football team in a very competitive league (go Gekkos!) and watch football every weekend while surrounded by rabid Eagles fans.


Coffee


When I was a girl, I would wake up when my father left the house and run to the kitchen to pour a little coffee into a cup before my mother could toss it. She didn’t drink coffee, but I loved it. Though it’s possible to start a day without coffee, my days just seem to feel happier and filled with good things when I do. These days I favor dark rich coffee that I load up with cream and sip from a pretty ceramic mug. I own a small collection of the latter that I switch around according to the season.


Milwaukee


I was born there and didn’t live there again until I was ready to graduate high school, but I rather love this great city on a Great Lake. Most people know Milwaukee from shows like Happy Days or commercials about beer. There’s so much more to the city, though. Its German heritage is still strong in companies like Usingers, home of wonderful sausages. I send boxes of sausages to family and friends every Christmas. My mother and siblings still live in Milwaukee and I visit often. On every visit we have to dine at Hector’s on State Street in Wauwatosa. Believe me when I say Milwaukee has some of the best Mexican restaurants around! In fact, the city is a great town for restaurants and is a heck of a lot cheaper than Philadelphia, where I currently dine out.


Style


Like many and probably most authors, I write while wearing casual clothes. But I like looking nice and my casual clothes generally mean black straight leg jeans with boots and a simple but stylish sweater. Lots of writers aim to be bohemian but I lean more toward casual chic. I have fun with my “look” but I learned a long time ago the value of buying quality classic clothes, so I troll sales and pick up a few pieces each year to add a little “hip” to my wardrobe.


Sock Dreams


This is related to style but kind of different because, well, I really love socks! I mean I have three drawers bursting with socks in every color, fabric, and style. Why so much sock love? Because I think socks are an underrated accessory. The right pair of socks can put the finishing touch on a look, or add a bit of fun. They also keep my feet warm, a considerable advantage when living in places with cold winters. When socks get worn out, just slip them over the hand and use them to dust before tossing. Here is one of my recent purchases from my favorite socks website, Sock Dreams.


Swimming


There’s only one exercise that’s kind to my knees and also great fun. If I lived somewhere warm and could afford a pool guy, I would have my own pool. The pool guy is not optional. Someone would have to take care of the pool. But if I had one I would swim every day, not just twice a week. I can swim for hours, for miles, and the best thing is I can also plot out dialogue, battles, meets, and other fictional stuff while doing it.


Poodles


My mother raised collies when I was a girl and I grew up around large, sensible dogs. I’m not a graceful person and small dogs make me worry about stumbling over them, not to mention I despise yapping little menaces. So when my husband and I talked about bringing a dog into our happy coupledom my one requirement was that the dog have size and good manners. That’s when I found he had his heart set on a poodle. My vision of a poodle was a small, yappy nuisance that wore ridiculous haircuts, did tricks, and sat on pillows. But not all poodles are small, and so we compromised on a Standard Poodle—bigger than what he wanted but big enough to persuade me to buy into the idea of a poodle. We’re so happy we did!

My poodle Cate is a sensible, smart girl. In fact, I think she’s smarter than a great many people I know. She barks only at deliveries, her doggie friends next door when frolicking outside together, and when strangers walk up to the house. Mostly she shares my preference for a sedate, peaceful life and has ingratiated herself with area businesses we visit, like the bank, where she gets the most treats and has her picture on the wall. We’re going to be getting another poodle soon to give her a sister.

And, just because it’s fun... more socks!


Friday, December 5, 2014

I'm Shrinking!

Yesterday I received a package in the mail. A sweater I’d ordered. In a flurry of excitement, I tried it on and a funny thing happened.

It was too big. I was swimming in it.

This is a brand I know and love. It should have fit. And then the thought hit me: I had to send it back and get the next size down. Because… weight.

I’ve lost 50 pounds since January. It’s official. The scale just done said so.

But I needed the scale and a way too big sweater to alert me to this milestone. I don’t see it in the mirror.


Just to be clear, I knew I was losing weight. A girl can tell when her pants and coats get baggy, even without her husband telling her she might take off like a kite with the next stiff breeze. I even hop on a scale here and there. My doctor actually danced a jig—I’m not kidding—when she saw my last weigh-in.

So please don’t be concerned for my health. I’m healthy. It’s just that I’ve completely changed what I eat since being diagnosed with diabetes. Apparently the stress of beating cancer, two surgeries, and my ridiculously complicated healing ordeal pushed my borderline blood sugars over the edge. I needed to get my metabolism back into line by changing my diet.

That’s why the weight is flying off. I take a low dose of a common diabetes medication that helps my liver get rid of excess blood sugar differently than it used to, meaning my body has far less sugar available to turn into fat. In addition, though, I’m really cutting back on carbs. No more cookies, cakes, chips, candy bars, or rice and potatoes. Lots of meat, dairy, and veggies.


Good thing this Wisconsin girl loves cheese!

So bring on the pretty undies, the smart sweaters, the straight leg jeans. I like being able to wear new things, even if when I look in the mirror I still think I look exactly the same as I ever did. That’s another blog post. But for now I’m eyeing a cute pair of cashmere socks.