Last year GRL Atlanta was held in a hotel run by aliens.
And not the ones we find bandied about under thinly disguised rational slurs—no these guys were straight from The Mother Ship. In fact by the end of our stay I’d become convinced that the hotel was the mother ship.
There is evidence to back this up. The disappearing/reappearing carpet swamp springs to mind and I have the rest of the list jotted down on the back of something…but that doesn’t matter. I have witnesses. If you don’t believe me just ask Jade Buchanan, Jet Mykles, Allie Blue… (and I want to throw Amber Kell under the bus here but I’m not 100% certain).
But my recall ability is not the point (yet). My point is that we can ask them ourselves in just a few weeks. Or sooner, if we want to reach out to them through our virtual connections…
Connections that begin with the books we love.
Books that become our family, that make us laugh, make us think, make us feel, or just distract us from the grind our soul can take on a daily basis. We finish one, we fall in love, and we start tearing through virtual bookstores and author websites and social media pages searching for their next literary crumb, that hint of the next book in a series, or the next novella penned in a voice we’d follow to the ends of the earth and back.
But for fans of our genre (and let’s face it, those of us who write are some of the biggest fans out there), we don’t have to leave it there.
We have something very special in our annual Gay Romance Literary Retreat…an event where very real and random meetings with those same authors can happen at any time of day or night. We trip across them in the elevators or the lobby, squee when we realize we’re seated next to them at dinner, have quiet moments of conversation when we keep each other company as we go on morning walks or stand in line at Starbucks.
The connections we spark light the fires of friendship or camaraderie or collaboration growing beyond the handful of days we share together each year.
So while I might gripe that I’m not ready to embrace the heart of con season, that I haven’t figured out costumes and swag and all the many painful details of travel, the truth of the matter is in its own way—it’s like coming home. No one cares what you wear, only that you’re back… even if only for the first time.
We all seem to share a shy reluctance to impose ourselves on each other coupled with a deep-seated desire to connect. And it can be worrisome until you take that great leap of faith and walk up with your hand extended. Scary. But the rewards for doing so are vast.
I was reminded of that last weekend as I prepared to board a flight to Seattle for GRNW 2014. My special box of swag was still in transit and I was whining about it online only to be put in my place by a reader ‘as long as you show up, that’s gift enough’. Enough said.
I can’t wait to see my friends: personal and virtual. And for those as yet unmet? I can’t wait to meet you.
Safe Travels and I’ll see you in Chicago where I hear anything can happen, maybe even aliens.
Can This Be Real
Chef Christian De Guisse can’t trust a man who doesn’t love his food, Detective Andrew Simmons won’t let any man close who thinks he’s broken—somewhere between these two points, love is possible, but only if they get real.
When Chef Christian De Guisse accidently outs Celebrity Chef Jordan Slayer during a fight in front of The Times entertainment reporter—it only gets Christian ex-boyfriend status and a one-way plane ticket to culinary exile in Oregon.
But a fortuitous meeting with Detective Andrew Simmons at the Portland airport keeps De Guisse and his collection of exotic herbs out of the hands of homeland security, starting the chemistry simmering between them.
Andy isn’t much of a foodie and for a chef who communicates love through his cooking this may be one hurdle too high.
“You fucking bastard!” Christian slammed through the door to Jordan’s office without knocking. The executive suite was built on a mezzanine overlooking the dining room and faced with an entire wall of glass that revealed a private chef’s table at one end and Jordan’s desk at the other. From the dining room floor the executive suite always reminded Christian of a giant aquarium; Jordan’s relentless pacing mimicking the school of piranha circling their tank at the NY Aquarium.
“Chris, what the hell? I’m in a meeting with the network, this is completely inappropriate!” Christian barely spared a glance at the room full of suits before blasting back.
“You want to know what’s fucking inappropriate? It’s cheating on me with some twat while I run your goddamned restaurant making you look good to all these pretentious assholes!” Christian swept a hand out, gesturing to those seated behind him with the paper still clutched in his hand.
Jordan lost all color in his face as Christian slapped the newspaper down in front of him. The pages were folded back to reveal a cozy photograph of Jordan, arms wrapped around a statuesque blonde in a tiny silver micro dress as they left a trendy SoHo eatery.
Page Six had spent several column inches speculating that perhaps Jordan had met the future Mrs. Happy Monkey, given the number of times he’d been seen escorting her around town over the last six months.
“Christian, you’re overreacting—”
“Fuck you, Jordan. If anything I’m underreacting here. How long have you been sneaking around?”
Jordan froze and then seemed to pull himself together after a quick glance at the startled faces around them. For the first time Christian focused on the other occupants in the room. Among the seven suits seated, Christian recognized Mickey Nichols, Executive Producer for Jordan’s shows, along with Melissa Halprin, entertainment reporter for The Times. While the others were studiously trying to avoid eye contact, Melissa had the glazed look of someone witnessing a car wreck as she clutched her recorder in one hand.
“Back off, Chris!” Jordan snapped, every inch of him channeling his “Jordan Slayer, TV star” persona. “I don’t know what the hell you think you’re doing but this is none of your business, and for the record I’m not gay.”
“Not gay? I find that incredibly unlikely since you had your tongue shoved up my asshole not three hours ago. In my experience, that’s usually a line a straight man won’t cross!” Christian would have been more satisfied by the horror on Jordan’s face if the view weren’t ruined by a sucker punch to his jaw.
The blow knocked him backwards into the glass wall, panels shuddering and pinging. Mickey jumped up to grab Jordan, pulling the cheating bastard out of harm’s way, while the sting of his mouth dissolved the last bit of Christian’s self-control.
“You can deny it all you want but there’s also the fact you’ve been inserting your cock into every orifice of sufficient size on my body since I was seventeen—you’re just one blowjob away from winning the award for World’s Most Prolific Cocksucker, Jordan!”
The mention of underage sex and blowjobs seemed to light a fire under Mickey. He shoved Jordan into a chair and started hustling everyone else out of the room. Melissa was no longer being shy about her interest and was furiously jotting notes into a small notebook—lingering as long as she could—Mickey finally shut the door in her face and turned the panels to opaque before making his own escape.
“Seventeen?” Jordan spluttered, shock ripping away his façade. “I thought you had to be eighteen to apply to the CIA?”
Jordan was probably thinking back to all the times he’d dragged Christian into an empty supply closet or the guest quarters at the venerable cooking institution during that long weekend eight years ago.
“Yeah, Jordan. You were so hot to get in my whites that you never slowed down long enough to ask, not that it took very long as I recall. You know, I never could tell if it was my tight ass you loved more or my perfect sauces. I guess it’s a moot point now.”
Christian couldn’t stop the memories from surfacing, overwhelming his pain. As an undergraduate attending the Culinary Institute of America, Christian had been assigned to help Jordan prep for a cooking demonstration; to say they’d hit it off would’ve been an understatement. In fact, upon graduation Jordan came calling, luring Christian into hitching his professional career to Jordan’s star. Bile rose in Christian’s throat at the choices he’d made.
“Christian?” Jordan broke into Christian’s reverie.
Staring at him, Christian barely recognized the man he’d thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. For Christian, their early professional partnership had quickly become personal— in Jordan he’d found not only a mentor but also a partner and friend.
They’d done everything together. And even though Christian spent all his nights at the loft with Jordan, except for the late weekend shifts, Jordan had always resisted Christian’s overtures to make it official by moving in together. Now he knew the reason why. Just the thought of it made a red tide of rage rise once more.
“I can’t believe I never recognized what a low-life, no-talent, has-been, cheating scum you really are…” Christian shook with emotion, the words snarled, hands clenched at his sides and jaw throbbing.
Jordan appeared tired and defeated sitting with his head in his hands, but the look he gave Christian as he rolled his head to the side was mostly pissed.
“You’re fired, Chris. Get the fuck out of my restaurant.”
About the Author
LE Franks lives in the SF Bay area and writes M/M Romance in a unique mix of humor and drama with enough suspense to produce fast paced stories filled with emotion and passion and featuring characters that are quirky and complicated and sometimes a little bit dark.
LE Franks is a best selling author Published through MLR Press, Dreamspinner Press and Wilde City Press and is a 2013 Rainbow Awards Finalist along with Co-author Sara York.
Her website can be found at http://www.lefranks.com/