By Lisabet Sarai
First of all, I want to wish you a very happy birthday, Amber – and I hope your Birthday Blog Bash will gain you lots of new readers!
It’s hard for me to believe, but in January 2013, I will turn sixty. Am I looking forward to beginning my seventh decade? Well, as they say, getting old is better than the alternative.
I never expected I’d even see forty. Growing up during the Cold War, I expected a nuclear war to finish us off long before now. Seriously, whenever I heard the drone of airplane engines as a kid, I thought the big one was about to drop.
And of course, it’s pretty hard to imagine yourself as a senior citizen when you’re in your twenties. I worked for a while as an aide in a nursing home, and came to realize that the elderly weren’t actually as alien as many young people think. One woman in her eighties liked to tell me about her travels and her love affairs. Still, I have to admit I could hardly identify. More than half a century separated us.
So it comes as some surprise to me that I’m facing this major milestone in my life.
Not that I’m complaining. My mother died at fifty-two. One of my dearest friends succumbed to ovarian cancer at fifty-four. Life is always uncertain. My reaction to that hard fact? Celebrate whatever and whenever you can. Thus, even though we really can’t afford it, we’re throwing a massive party to celebrate my hitting the big Six-Oh. It only happens once!
Since I live in the tropics, the party will be outdoors, on the terrace of an oceanfront hotel. We’ll have a buffet dinner, wine and beer, plus an open bar. I’m hoping to hire a band, though I haven’t located one yet. In my view, it’s not a party if there’s no dancing.
The hotel wanted me to commit to a minimum head count. That’s pretty tough, since the majority of people I’m inviting live in the U.S. I know from personal experience how difficult and expensive it is to travel halfway around the world. I’ve tried to balance realism with wishful thinking in my estimate of forty people. I was amused to find that the hotel thinks this is a small party.
In fact, several of my prospective guests have already told me they’re coming. I’m thrilled, although some close friends have regretfully declined as well. The RSVP deadline is still several months away, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Of course, if everyone invited actually showed up, we’d be way over budget. Not that I’d begrudge the money – it would be worth it.
Meanwhile, the event has given me the opportunity to reestablish contact with people I haven’t heard from in a long time. I sent invitations to friends I knew wouldn’t be able to make it, just to let them know I was thinking about them, that I’d love them to be here if it were at all possible.
I’ll probably do some kind of promo event on my own blog to celebrate. Meanwhile, to help you enjoy Amber’s big day (or big week!), I’ve got a hot excerpt from my M/M BDSM novella Crossed Hearts. Leave me a comment (with your email address, please!) and you could win a copy for yourself!
For the past six years, Jason Hofstadter has attended the Four States Annual Scrabble Tournament. Jason comes to the Four States for two reasons: to play Scrabble and to get laid. Every year since his first, he has managed to hook up with one of the other players for some sexual fun. This year he has a chance at the grand prize in the tournament. Meanwhile he figures that he has hit the jackpot when he spots handsome, bookish Matt Sawyer, who’s competing at the Four States for the first time.
Shy and seemingly innocent, Matt turns out to be full of surprises. First he jumps Jason in the rest room at Starbucks. Then he reveals that he’s into BDSM and encourages Jason to experiment with topping him. Finally, despite his lack of experience with tournament play, Matt ends up competing with Jason in the semi-final round. When Matt throws the game he should have won, Jason is forced to confront his own feelings: about winning, about casual sex, and about Matt.
When Jason returned with their drinks, Matt was looking around the trendy interior, obviously impressed. “Thanks!” he said. “It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve actually never been in a Starbucks before.”
“No, really. I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. I grew up in Grant—little farm town about fifty miles south west of North Platte. Went to community college in Scotts Bluff while working in my uncle’s grocery store. I’ve been to Lincoln and Omaha a few times and twice to Kansas City, but that’s about it. Of course, we’ve got our local java spots. I just could never understand why somebody would pay three bucks for a dollar cup of coffee.”
“Well, it is great coffee…” Jason watched Matt’s ripe lips as the other man took a sip.
“You’re right about that. It’s delicious. Thanks again.” That smile. Like a nerdy angel.
“My pleasure,” Jason responded. At least, I hope it will be. “So now, you live in North Platte? What do you do?”
“I own a small bookstore. I inherited it a couple of years ago from a close friend.” Matt fell silent, a cloud darkening his boyish face. “That’s where our Scrabble club meets,” he continued after a moment. He pulled a business card from his shirt pocket and handed it to Jason. “Drop by some time. If you’re in the neighbourhood, that is.” Now he was grinning again, mischief sparkling in his dark eyes.
“Crossways Books.” The store logo was fashioned from Scrabble tiles, with the first ‘O’ in ‘Books’ shared between the two words. “Jeez, you’re really serious about this game.”
“Richard was something of a fanatic.” Jason couldn’t miss the slight hesitation in Matt’s voice, pronouncing the name. Clearly the guy had been Matt’s lover. “He was the one who taught me to play…” The young man was unable to continue.
Jason allowed his hand to rest on Matt’s knee. “I gather that you and Richard were—close. I’m sorry.”
Matt shook his head. “No, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t inflict my private pain on someone I just met.” Jason inched his palm higher up Matt’s thigh. Muscles moved under the worn denim, but otherwise Matt did not react. Jason’s cock, on the other hand, stiffened at the continued contact. “And what about you? Where are you from?”
“I live in Lincoln. The big city.” Jason chuckled and Matt joined in, lightening the mood. “I’m in real estate. Not that exciting, but it pays the bills, and gives me a flexible schedule.”
“So you can come to tournaments like this.” Matt seemed to have recovered from his momentary sorrow. “And walk away in triumph.”
“Well, we’ll see about that tomorrow and Sunday,” Jason replied. “Anyway, I don’t just come to play, or to win. I come to meet people…if you know what I mean.” His hand was halfway to Matt’s zipper now. His dick strained inside his briefs, growing fatter and harder each time he squeezed the other man’s thigh.
Matt sat back and spread his legs wider, as though offering his crotch to Jason’s eager fingers. He arched one dark eyebrow and pressed his lips together. “I think I do know, Jason. That wasn’t really on my agenda for this weekend. I’m here because Richard always wanted me to compete.”
Disappointment settled on Jason like a lead blanket, without in the least smothering his lust. Matt was gay, sure, but he was still mourning his ex. Nevertheless, the boy hadn’t pushed Jason’s hand away. Maybe there was hope.
Matt set his cup down on the table and licked his lips. “On the other hand, I’d be crazy not to take advantage of what I could learn from an experienced player like you. Even Richard would have agreed, don’t you think?”
“Oh—um—definitely. I can teach you a lot, I’m sure I can.” Jason’s heartbeat accelerated like a Maserati. His erection pulsed, demanding freedom.
“I might be able to show you a few tricks, too,” Matt commented, his wicked grin belying his apparent innocence.