Thursday, September 26, 2013

Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up and a Short Story

A couple of weeks ago I visited Seattle and took part in the first ever Gay Romance Northwest Meet-Up. 

The event, hosted by Old Growth Northwest was the first of its kind in the Pacific Northwest and focused on LGBTQ romance fiction. 



The half day meet-up took place at the amazing Seattle Public Library where authors, publishers, editors and cover artists, took part in discussion panels and met with readers. 

The topics were interesting, the discussions lively and the swag was sweet. Some of my favorite goodies were the man-shaped tootsie rolls Anne Tenino gave out and the naughty word fridge magnets. I got to meet some of my online friends, in person, for the first time and I made some new friends too.

Everyone enjoyed the subsequent happy hour and meet and greet at the Hotel Monaco and it was great to see readers chatting with some of their favorite authors. A few authors did readings too. I wasn't quite that brave, but maybe next year. The date's September 13, 2014, so mark your calendars.

Prior to the meet some attending authors wrote stories, which were posted on the group's Goodreads site. I wrote Perfect Weekend, a flash fiction piece. I'm posting it below, but check out the above link to see more stories. 

Hope to see you at the meet-up next year. 


Perfect Weekend

“Look, a whale!” Jon pointed, leaning over the ferry’s railing and craning his neck.
Steve’s stomach stopped trying to turn itself inside out long enough for him to grip Jon by the back of his raincoat, though in Steve’s current state of abject misery he wasn’t sure he’d have enough strength to stop his boyfriend going overboard.
Jon wriggled excitedly in his grasp. “Look.”
The downpour obscured everything, even the islands off to their left. Was it portside or starboard? He didn’t know. Didn’t care. He’d never be on a boat again if he had his way. “Where?”
“You missed it.” Jon straightened and turned to look at him. Jon’s blond hair stuck to his forehead and he blinked rain out of his eyes. “Are you feeling any better?”  
“Some.” The fresh air helped. So did being outside, away from the steamy, and not in a good way, cabin with its noise and heat: All those sweating bodies, children, dogs. Nothing smelled worse than wet dog, except maybe several wet dogs.
“You don’t have to stay out here. Go back inside where it’s warm,” Steve said.
“I’d rather be with you.” Jon bit his lip. “I wanted our first anniversary to be perfect. A romantic weekend in the woods, a cabin, a real fire, no one around for miles. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you’d get seasick.”
“It’s not your fault. I’ve never been on a boat before.” Steve nudged Jon with his shoulder. “Guess Caribbean cruises are out though.”
Jon smiled at him. “We’ll just have to fly somewhere next year.”
“I’ll be fine once I’m off this damn ferry.” He hoped.
“The cabin has a hot tub.” Jon bounced with excitement. “We can sit out under the stars and smooch.”
He liked the smooching idea. He’d kiss Jon every chance he got, but sitting outside in the middle of the woods once the sun went down… He bet they’d be a mosquito buffet.
But Jon wouldn’t know that. He’d admitted the closest he’d been to camping was making out with a guy in a park ranger costume at a Halloween party. He was in for a shock, but that was Jon, impulsive and optimistic. He’d made the effort to surprise Steve and Steve didn’t want to disappoint him.
Steve had quietly cancelled the reservations at their favorite Italian restaurant, prepared to put up with bugs and poison ivy if it made Jon happy.
“We’ll be back on dry land soon,” Jon said. Water dripped off his nose. “Well, land anyway.”
****
The docking process seemed to take forever. The ferry shuddered and groaned as it rubbed up against the dock.
Steve doubted he’d ever want to have sex again. He sat in the car taking shallow breaths as Jon chattered away about walks on the beach. They’d be on the island soon. They would find the cabin and Steve could lie down until his seasickness passed. Then maybe he’d try to convince Jon a nice quiet soak in the hot tub would be more fun than running around poking at clumps of seaweed.
Steve navigated as Jon drove. By the time they got to the cabin the rain had eased to a drizzle
“This can’t be right.” Jon stared at the abandoned shack huddled at the end of the potholed lane. “It’s supposed to be rustic chic, but this is…”
“A dump,” Steve said.
“We must have turned off too soon.”
“The directions were clear.”
Jon turned in his seat, his face reflecting his disappointment. “What should we do?”
Steve shook the key out of the envelope. “Let’s check it out.”
The lock resisted, but gave way as Steve wrestled with it. This was the place.
The cabin was one big room. Steve explored, his hopes for a romantic weekend disappearing, along with his nausea.
The stone fireplace looked useable, but he couldn’t say the same for the battered stove or coffeemaker. He’d had better stuff in his starving student days. He aimed a kick at the lumpy couch.
“Steve.” Jon stood beside a brass double bed tucked in a corner. Even empty the middle sagged. “Where’s the bathroom?”
“Probably out back.”
“Outside?” Jon sat abruptly, as if his legs had given out.
“It’s okay babe. We’ll start a fire, warm the place up. Then maybe check out the hot tub?”
Jon tried to smile. “I forgot about that.”
The hot tub was a disappointment. When they brushed all the pine needles off the lid, the tub was empty. Well maybe not entirely empty, something had used it for a home, if the nest of needles and fluff was anything to go by.
Jon dropped onto the back steps; his shoulders slumped almost as much as the roof. “This place sucks.”
“It’s not so bad.” Steve sat beside him. “The woods are beautiful.” He stretched out and picked a handful of blackberries from the brambles encroaching on the porch. “We’re away from the city, just you and me.”
“Can you eat those?” Jon eyed the blackberries, a thin line of worry between his blue eyes. “They’re growing wild.”
Steve popped one into his mouth, relishing the tart taste as it burst over his taste buds, reminding him of summers past, the dusty heat and sunny days of his boyhood. “Just think of them as organic.”
He touched a blackberry to his boyfriend’s lips and watched as Jon chewed and his eyes widened. “That’s good.”
“You like that?” Steve asked.
 Jon opened up for him and Steve fed him another and another, watching the delicate pink of Jon’s tongue stain purple with blackberry juice. His mouth looked ripe, luscious.
Steve helped himself to a kiss, licking his way into Jon’s mouth, tasting, teasing. Mm, so sweet. Everything he needed for a perfect weekend, right here in his arms.
“You’re feeling better.” Jon’s cheeks were flushed, his eyes bright.
“Much better.” Steve stood and held out his hand. “Let’s go inside and I’ll show you how good I feel.”



I've written a couple of other flash pieces about Jon and Steve before. Click Skinny Jeans and Cops and Rubbers to read them.

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