Happy Monday everyone!
I have a lot going on today, which is a nice a change since it’s all author business! I’m over at Charlie Cochrane’s blog talking about writing and characters and how they take over, and sharing a new excerpt from Directing Traffic!
Random.org tells me #3 is the winner of this weekend’s swag giveaway–thanks Sarah for playing along! Check your e-mail. 🙂
And I’m hosting a fellow Dreamspinner author, Bru Baker! Her story Diving In is part of the June Daily Dose sports anthology Make a Play! She’s also holding a contest, which you’ll want to enter, so after you’ve finished reading head over to her blog. All you have to do is leave a comment and you’re entered–tweet about the giveaway and you’re entered twice!
First off I’d like to thank Charley for hosting me today! I’ve never done a guest blog post before, so I’m a little nervous. Luckily the topic is one I feel very at ease talking about—Max and Everett, the couple from my latest release, Diving In.
I had a lot of fun writing about a water polo player falling for the pool boy, but there’s a lot more to Everett and Max than what you see at the surface. Everett is a photographer for his father’s (heterosexual) soft core porn magazine, and he’s also an Olympian. Max owns the pool company that cleans Everett’s pool, and has an advanced degree in chemistry.
In one scene, Everett goads the usually-shy Max into playing a game with him where they each come up with a 60-second autobiography. It’s a good ice breaker for them, but 60 seconds isn’t a lot of time. Four embarrassing things they don’t end up sharing that night:
- Everett is fiercely competitive in anything he does. None of his friends will play board games with him after the Great Scrabble Incident of 2009. He doesn’t care what the Scrabble dictionary says, kickout is one word.
- Max has every Nicholas Sparks book ever written. He buys them in hardback and switches the cover jackets with chemistry and ecology books so no one ever looks at them.
- Everett keeps his iPod locked with a passcode so none of his teammates know that his workout play list is predominantly made up of folk singers like The Weepies.
- Max wears his watch 24/7 to hide the wrist tattoo he got during spring break in Cancun. He’d wanted the Apple logo, but thanks to the language barrier and Max being very, very drunk, he ended up with an actual apple. Six years later and the red ink still hasn’t started to fade.
Diving In, by Bru Baker
Being the pool boy makes it easy for Max Jansen to ogle his long-time crush, water polo player Everett Caldwell. Never mind the fact that Max owns the company and is overqualified for the task of monitoring chlorine and cleaning skimmers. He’s just happy to watch his unattainable dream play—until one day Everett invites him over and suddenly Max is his platonic plus-one for everything from movie nights to racy industry parties. Then Max learns the one-time Olympian isn’t as straight as everyone assumes, and he isn’t sure how long he can hold out before his crush grows much deeper.
Max had his head down, dripping chemicals into the vials to test the water when the deck erupted in catcalls. He carefully finished counting out the drops before screwing the tops back on the bottles and giving the vials a little shake. Only after he’d finished and casually set them aside did he allow himself to look up and follow the scantily clad water polo team members’ progress toward the pool. As usual, Everett was last, shooing his teammates toward the water and pulling them away from enthusiastic spectators when necessary. Max let his eyes wander over the smooth, tanned expanse of Everett’s chest, following taut muscles all the way down to the blue Speedo that hugged his groin, leaving little to the imagination.
Watching Everett herd everyone into the pool to start practice wasn’t quite as nice as watching the reverse, since after practice the team was dripping wet and flushed from exertion. But since Max had a full schedule of consultations that afternoon, it would have to do. He’d actually squawked when Brenna had suggested he let one of the actual pool techs cover for him for the day, and Max knew she was never going to let him live it down. It wasn’t like it was a big secret why he insisted on being the one to carry out the routine pool maintenance during water polo season, but Max did have the grace to feel a little embarrassed when Brenna teased him.
Max grimaced when the vials of test water changed color. The pH was too high, which meant he needed to add some muriatic acid. Keeping everyone out of the pool for half an hour after the treatment wasn’t usually a problem, since Max made a habit of coming after practice was over, but the team wouldn’t be done for another two hours. He’d have to come back after his afternoon and evening appointments.
Sighing, he packed up his kit and ambled over to the edge of the pool, watching Everett slice through the water with a neat, efficient stroke as he warmed up. The entire team was swimming laps, but it was still easy to pick out which figure was Everett. They all had their numbers on their swim caps—not that Max needed that to be able to tell them apart, even with their faces in the water. He crouched down at the end of Everett’s lane, waiting until he closed the distance between them. Just like Max had hoped, Everett stopped instead of using his normal flip turn.
“You’re here early today,” Everett said, breathing hard from his warm-up. He adjusted his goggles, raising them up to rest on his head as he looked at Max.
Max swallowed. He checked in with Everett after every treatment, giving him an update about the water and noting any concerns Everett or the other swimmers had registered about the pool. It was usually a two-minute conversation, but Max looked forward to it. In his current position, he found himself a lot closer to Everett’s gorgeous hazel eyes than he normally was, and he couldn’t stop his heart from kicking up a notch.
“Yeah, scheduling conflict. The pH is high, but I can’t treat it while you’re in the pool. I’ll come back tonight, if that’s all right? It’s not dangerous—the water just might get a little cloudy until I can fix it.” Max fumbled with his phone, looking at his calendar. “I could come by around nine tonight. Does that work? The pool needs to be empty of swimmers for about thirty minutes after I treat it.”
Everett raised an eyebrow. “Scheduling conflict? You’re usually in and out in ten minutes, tops. How many other pools are you treating that you can’t get back here for eight hours?”
Max flushed, his jaw tensing. He hated it when people assumed that he spent his days pouring chlorine in water and cleaning out filters, though he wasn’t about to point out that the pools at the Flesh mansion were the only ones that got his personal attention these days. Max had helped design the entire six-pool landscape when Caldwell renovated it so the team could practice there, though he doubted Everett knew that. Everett had still been training with the Olympic team when his father had revamped the pools.
Everett surprised him by speaking again before he could respond, rubbing a hand over his face and saying ruefully, “Sorry, that was rude. Yes, it’s fine to come by later. My father is having a party, but that doesn’t start until eleven, so you should be safe coming around nine.”
Max nodded, making a note on his calendar so he wouldn’t forget. Not that it was likely he’d forget an opportunity to possibly see Everett twice in one day.
“Thanks. I have back-to-back appointments up until then, so I really appreciate it. I should have had someone else come take your appointment today, but I thought I could squeeze it in.” Max nearly pinched himself, horrified that he’d rambled so much. He’d just meant to thank Everett and leave.
“That’s a lot of pool maintenance,” Everett said lightly, but his easy grin took the sting out of the earlier unintended slight. Max smiled back. “Your boss shouldn’t work you so hard.”
Max laughed. “You have no idea. My boss is a real slave driver. I haven’t had more than a ten-minute lunch break in about three years.”
He stood, slipping his phone into his pocket. Max was notoriously clumsy, which was a pretty big liability when it came to electronics in his line of work. His last three phones had died a watery death, and even though he’d sprung for a supposedly waterproof casing on this one, he didn’t want to test it out.
Everett was still looking at him when Max saluted him and started to head off, but he was startled into stopping when Everett yelled his name as he came up to the gate.
“Knock on my door when you come tonight, all right? Just come up the central staircase in the pool house. There’s a door at the top.”
“Sure thing, captain!” Max said, touching a finger to his temple in the same spot where the captain’s star was visible on Everett’s swim cap.
Everett rolled his eyes and laughed, pulling his goggles down and heading off to finish his laps. Max indulged himself in another quick ogle, watching as Everett’s lean body cut through the water, his strong arms and shoulders on display. Coming at the beginning of practice apparently had its benefits, too.
Visit Bru’s website, http://www.bru-baker.com, to read her blog or excerpts of her other books. You can also find her on Twitter, where she Tweets as @bru_baker.
Buy Diving In at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Dreamspinner Press!