What Happened in Vegas?? #BlogHop ~ “This is the Future, Baby” Original Fiction From Kelly Jensen!

Vegas-Hop-GraphicThanks for following the “What Happened in Vegas??” Blog Hop! I’d like to highlight The Attic Youth Center in Philadelpha. The Attic creates opportunities for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community, and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society.

Computer generated 3D photo rendering.This is the Future, Baby

by Kelly Jensen

The holo outside of Destination Weddings darkened and the projection stuttered as the program restarted, a bud of light growing in the center of the virtual marquee. The light expanded and diverged like an old fashioned firework. Each streamer arced out from the display. Kale ducked as a point of light sailed past his ear. He could have sworn he felt a flash of heat. Turning, he checked to make sure Toby hadn’t been in the path of any errant streamers. His lover stood well clear by chance alone. Head tilted back, lips parted, he was watching the lights dance over and around him with the wonder of a small child.

“Look, Kale! It’s a map!” Toby spun around, arms flying out from his sides, mouth open in a wide grin.

Around him, shimmered a map of the world connected by a ghostly network of lines. Instead of a mall on the 56th level of the dirt scraper, Minneapolis Deep, Kale stood somewhere in the middle of Europe, the bright light of Paris blinking just to his left. Toby was lost somewhere in the south west, the lights of scattered cities glittering around him. He reached out to tap the closest point and the holo projection flickered.

“You have selected Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information on this exciting destination, please step inside the store.”

Kale frowned. “This map is seriously out of date. Vegas is nothing a strip of broken hotels in a desert valley.” And had been since the great drought of 2020. Kale tapped the point next to him. “What about Paris?” Europe still had surface water, and most of their cities towered above the ground instead of below.

“That’s where Max and Itsuki got married.” Toby said. “I want to go somewhere completely different.” Somewhere wondrous and unforgettable—and Kale would do anything, go anywhere, to make sure Toby got exactly what he wanted.

The holo stuttered again, preparing to relaunch the display. Grabbing Toby’s hand, Kale tugged him beneath the marquee and into the store. “C’mon, let’s go inside. I’m gonna have an epileptic fit if I stand out here much longer.”

“And thought I was the dramatic one.”

Kale pressed a kiss to Toby’s temple. “I learned from the best.”

“Welcome to Destination Weddings!”

Kale had expected to be greeted by another holo. The woman standing in front of them defied reality in every other way, however. She wore a white robe with a thigh high slit on both sides. The neckline plunged toward her navel. Twist the fabric, and she’d fall out. A wide belt of blue and gold cinched the waist. A sash of matching fabric hung about her shoulders.

Toby surged forward like an over excited puppy. “Oh my God, is your hair real?” From another band of gold set with blue jewels, hair as black as space fell all the way down her back. Uninhibited as always, Toby caught a strand between his fingers. “It’s so smooth. What products do you use?”

Leaving Toby to discuss hair and shampoo—a conversation that could extend from minutes to an hour, he was a stylist, after all—Kale wandered deeper into the store. Small, more constrained holo displays flickered from nearly every surface. Photos of happy couples tying the knot, interspersed with images of famous landmarks. Kale let each display capture his attention in turn, but despite the bright colors and cheerful smiles, there was something off about every destination. He couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong until he saw the Vegas display.

Behind a cycling holo of smiling couples was an aerial photograph of Las Vegas Boulevard at night. The glittering path of The Strip was easy to pick out—and shouldn’t be. The desert had reclaimed the valley eighty years ago. Las Vegas wasn’t a viable destination.

Kale turned to look at the displays he’d just walked past and frowned as he recognized landmarks no longer in existence. The ruins of Pompeii were buried under another layer of ash and the Golden Gate Bridge had been swept down by the tsunami of 2089. Giza was closed to visitors, and had been for over seventy years.

He looked at the bright lights of Vegas again. The background image had switched to a daytime view, each casino still a jewel against the desert. Of all the lost places, this would be the one he’d most like to visit. A city carved from the sand, in defiance of all natural law. A culture built out of sin, now dead and buried. Oh, the stories those ruins could tell if anyone cared to dig through the shifting sands of the Mojave. A dead city wasn’t exactly the most romantic wedding destination, though.

“Kale!” Toby was beckoning him—and bouncing on his toes. “What do you think?”

He still stood next to the woman, whose costume now made sense. She was dressed as an Ancient Egyptian something. The reenactment idea was pretty cool, but Kale really didn’t want to get married on a movie set. He wanted his wedding to Toby to be real.

“Not sure this is what we had in mind,” Kale said, trying to keep his tone light. What if Toby thought it was a great idea? He loved dressing up.

“I know it’s not what we discussed, but this could be way cooler. Our special day will be truly unique!”

At the package price of… How much did these illusions cost, anyway? “Toby…”

The light in Toby’s eyes was dimming, but also sharpening. Wrapping slender fingers around Kale’s biceps, he turned to their hostess. “We’ll be right back.”

Crap. They were going to do the adults-need-to-talk thing before they even got married?

Toby tugged him into a corner, coincidentally near the Vegas display. “What’s up?”

Kale captured Toby’s beautiful face gently between his palms. “I want to make you happy, but this doesn’t feel right to me. I want our wedding to be real, Toby, not some scripted play. I want to go to an actual place, somewhere we can revisit whenever we’re feeling sappy, so we can remember the day we exchanged our vows.”

“I love your romantic soul.” Which Kale tended to keep well buried. Engineers generally weren’t hired for their idealism. Toby covered his hands, lacing their fingers together. “But, babe, these places are real. Destination Weddings is a time travel agency.”

Kale tried not to wince as he added a couple of zeroes to his imagined price. “Time travel?” Keeping the strain out of his voice proved just as difficult. “That’s…” He glanced over his shoulder at the shining seductress of the desert, Las Vegas at its height. “Is it safe?”

Time travel had been an inevitable development, really. Once dimensional doorways had become a reliable form of transport, a dozen or more agencies had funded research into moving forward and backward through time, instead of simply from point to point. But like trips to Mars, time travel had been always seemed the provenance of the wealthy and the daring. Or stupid. Kale hadn’t realized it was available for vacations. Affordable vacations.

Their hostess had drifted close again. “Destination Weddings has been transporting happy couples to the past for over five years.” But had any of them come back? “It’s as safe as walking through the d-door from the first level to the fiftieth of Minneapolis Deep. And we’ll provide you with everything you need for the time period and location you choose. We’re a full service agency.” Her smile was bright and very white.

Kale prepared to broach the subject of money. Of course, Toby had adopted the eager puppy look again. Damn him. “I…can we afford it?” Could you really put a price on happiness?

Toby stepped back, turning his hands so their fingers remained entwined. “Ultimately, it’s not where we go. I know that, you know that. But I think this could be really neat. Did you know men weren’t even allowed to marry men in some of these periods of history? Not that I want our wedding to be us thumbing our noses at our ancestors. I’d rather go where we can celebrate.”

“We could go to the Lakes.”

“The Puddles, you mean.” No one called them the Great Lakes anymore. “I don’t want to get married by a reminder of just how badly we’ve messed up our planet. I’d rather risk a trip to Mars. But this…” Pulling one hand free, Toby made a dramatic, sweeping gesture that encompassed the Vegas display, among others. “This is when we were great!”

“That’s kinda depressing, Tobes.”

He sobered. “Yeah, I know. Think of it this way, then. Time travel is a way to revitalize our present. To set us to dreaming again.”

Kale felt a sideways grin pulling at his mouth. “And that’s a lot of philosophy for one wedding.”

“Ah hell. I just want to get married and you haven’t stopped looking at the pictures of Vegas since we got here.” Toby had both of his hands again. “Hang the expense. They’ve got payment plans. This will be the trip of a lifetime. It will be unforgettable!”

Toby could come across as frivolous, but when he really wanted something, he would work at it from every angle until it happened. And just as Toby loved the soft stuff Kale hid inside, Kale loved the core of iron within Toby.

He squeezed Toby’s fingers. “Let’s do it.”

Two white dices isolated on white.Las Vegas was hot. Ungodly hot. And completely surreal. The entire place made no sense. Each casino was like a village—completely self-contained and culturally distinct. Kale felt as if he’d time-traveled again every time he stepped through a new pair of doors. They’d been to the tropics, Egypt, and New York City. They’d seen animals that only existed in these towering institutions of greed and vanity. After five hours of sightseeing, they’d seen more of the world than either of them had expected to see—except it wasn’t real. Any of it.

For Toby’s sake, Kale refused to acknowledge the small curl of disappointment hidden beneath what could only be described as awe. Artifice or not, Las Vegas was amazing. He’d never forget the experience of being here.

“Let’s go to Paris next.” Toby held up a glossy map. He looked like a tourist, but so did everyone else surging up and down the wide sidewalk. They’d been told to dress down a little for 2015, but Toby loved color. His hair stood out from his head in crimson spikes and the green lenses in his eyes flashed brightly every time he blinked. The shirt he wore combined both colors in a lurid pattern of palm trees and sunsets. According to their guidebook, the shirt was appropriate to the culture and time. Kale had yet to see anything quite like it, but while the sometimes bland world of Minneapolis Deep needed the brightness of people like Toby, Las Vegas seemed designed for him.

Kale touched the corner of the map, expecting a menu to coalesce in the air in front of it. For about the tenth time that afternoon, he started when it didn’t happen.

Toby pointed to a spot somewhere along the boulevard. “It’s here.” He moved his finger down a way. “We’re here.”

Half a kilometer away, and not a glidewalk in sight. “I can’t believe we’re really eighty-five years in the past.”

“It hits me every now and then too. I mean, being outside in the sunshine is weird enough.”

“Right?” And sort of thrilling. “Speaking of which, how long before we need to replace our SPF patches?”

“We have another hour.”

Kale studied the map again. “It’s a long walk to Paris.”

“Yeah, they could use a d-door or two along Las Vegas Boulevard.”

The futility of it all hit Kale, then. Glancing up from the map, he murmured, “It’s kind of eerie, isn’t it? Knowing all of this will disappear in five years?”

Toby smacked his arm. “Don’t. We can’t do anything about it, you know that. And that’s not why we came here.”

“But don’t you feel a bit, I don’t know, icky? As if we’re taking advantage. Trading on their doom?”

Toby gaped at him. “I feel like every other tourist here.” He gestured the crowd. “Besides, none of these people would listen to us if we told them what the future holds. We’d either be ignored, spat on, or locked up. And, you’re forgetting the most important fact.”

“That we can’t change history?” There’d been a brief lecture on the fallacy of paradoxes and multiple continuums. Or had it been the fallacy of continuums and multiple—

“No! That we’re here to get married.”

Blushes didn’t show well on Kale’s dark skin, but Toby always said his cheeks glowed when he was embarrassed. And that he looked like a chastened bulldog. “Toby, I…”

“Shh.”

Toby stood on tiptoe to press a quick kiss to his lips. Kale caught him around the waist and hauled him closer, deepening the kiss. He stopped short of making love to Toby’s mouth—he wasn’t an exhibitionist—but he was always ready to show his lover the depth of his desire.

“Fucking queers.”

Jostled from behind, their mouths came apart. Kale tightened his hold on Toby before looking around.

Toby caught his chin. “Ignore it. This was a less tolerant time, remember?”

“But they just ruled same sex marriage legal in all states.”

“And how long did it take for black men to gain respect in this country?”

Kale growled under his breath. “I’m starting to wonder why we came here. Maybe a holo wedding would have been better. Or the Roman Empire. Did you know two of the emperors were married to men?”

Toby smiled. “I love that you’re so passionate about history. But while we might have lost much of this, we’ve gained a lot too.” Bigotry seemed to be a hardwired aspect of human nature, but their present—nearly a hundred years in the future—was a time of tolerance, respect and unequaled enlightenment.

Kale squeezed Toby a little tighter. “Love you.”

“Love you too. Now put me down so we can go to Paris. I want to check out the wedding chapel there.”

He set Toby back down on the pavement. “It’s kinda neat that we’re getting to do Vegas and Paris in the same trip.”

“See? This is the future, baby.”Two white dices isolated on white.Paris turned out to be just another casino, and less culturally distinct than many of the others they’d visited. Or maybe all the bright lights and ringing slot machines were starting to blur into a mind numbing symphony. Either way, Kale was disappointed. He was also tired. He and Toby lived in one of the largest underground cities in North America, but the streets of Minneapolis Deep were lined by moving pathways and joined by lift tubes. D-doors allowed commuters to traverse fifty levels at a time.

After inspecting another disappointingly bland wedding chapel, he pulled Toby out of another over-caffeinated crowd and into a corner of relative quiet. A space behind a pillar. There was a reassuring scuff of dust on the floor.

“I’m done in.”

“Yeah, me too,” Toby said, leaning into him. The tips of his spiky hair tickled Kale’s chin. “Let’s check out our hotel room and maybe indulge in some virtual tourism.”

They had the internet in 2015. It didn’t come alive, projecting holograms and three dimensional maps into the air, but after an afternoon of casino floors and tourists, that would almost be a relief.

Destination Weddings had booked them into a room at the Bellagio, which was just across the boulevard from Paris. Across the boulevard could turn into a distance of a kilometer or more by the time they exited one hotel and entered another. Half an hour later, they reached their room, which overlooked the fountains Kale had been too weary to appreciate as they passed.

Toby sidled up next to him and leaned into his side. “The fountains will be spectacular at night.”

“Mmm,” Kale agreed. He turned to survey the pleasingly large bed. “Where are our bags?”

Their luggage was supposed to have been delivered while they did their sightseeing. “Unpacked and stowed,” Toby said. “I could get used to this luxury living. Let’s check out the bathroom!”

It was small, but well appointed. And it had a tub. Kale swallowed any comments about the amount of water required to fill it. They were here to celebrate their wedding, and… “Think we could both fit in there?”

“You and me and not so little you?” Toby fondled Kale’s crotch.

“Mmm-hmm.” Kale rocked forward into Toby’s palm. “Now I kinda want to test the bed too.” He bent down to kiss Toby’s brow, nose, and lips. Then he picked up his lover and carried him to the great expanse of creamy linens, intending to muss them into irrevocable wrinkles.

After testing the bed, bath, and shower, they returned to the bed dressed in robes made of an odd, furry fabric Toby identified as cotton. The towels had had the same thick feel. Sprawled across the rumpled sheets, Toby activated the bulky tablet computer their tour assistant had assured them was all the thing in 2015, and followed the instructions for gaining access to the internet.

“Do you think it’s always this slow?” Toby muttered as they waited for the results to his search for Vegas wedding chapels.

“Dunno. Try this one.” Kale pointed to flashing advertisement under the map of Vegas that had appeared on the right side of the screen.

Toby tapped the picture and a video interface opened. Together, they watched the dashed circle in the middle chase its own tail. Finally, the video loaded. It was advertisement for cat food, featuring singing cats.

Giggling, Toby touched the screen. “Aww, this one is so cute.” As he stroked the gray and white tabby, the screen reloaded to show a second video, this one of a fat orange cat forcing its way inside a box that might accommodate one of its paws. Then the screen split into a preview of six new videos, all of cats. Toby touched another and they watched a series of cats falling from tables, in between couch cushions, and behind bookcases. They moved on to a video of a woman dressing her cat in ridiculous outfits, then another about a cat with a sad, sad face, who spoke of resignation, boredom, and the silliness of humans.

Kale fell asleep listening to the sound of Toby’s chuckles, and awoke to the feel of a cat’s tongue licking his cheeks, only to realize Toby was nuzzling him.

“Hey, sleeping beauty.”

Kale grunted.

“Hungry?”

Nosing his way toward Toby’s ear, Kale caught the delicate pebble of flesh between his lips. “Always hungry for you.”

“Mmm, I did mean the other hunger, though.”

Kale’s stomach added its opinion, growling loudly. “I could eat.”

“Then I think it’s time to do the buffet and maybe a show.”

“Did you find a chapel, or did you watch another million cat videos?”

“I have a list of three places to check out and they’re all open at night.”

“Awesome.” Kale nosed below Toby’s ear and sucked on his neck. “Do we need to go right away?”

Two white dices isolated on white.After another round of bed, bath, and shower testing, Kale stood in the midst of continent of food. He’d never seen such variety, such plenty. Fruits and vegetables he couldn’t reliably name, and meat in shapes suggesting it had been cut from an actual carcass. Bread of different colors and textures. Baked casseroles. A pasta bar. Seafood.

“Oh my God, they have fish.”

“I want to move to the past,” Toby said.

“Against the rules,” Kale reminded him. “I’m glad they issued us with digestives. We could kill ourselves eating all of this.”

“We don’t have to eat all of it. But I’m going to taste as much as I can.” Toby plucked a plate from a teetering stack and began arranging fruit around the rim.

“We can come back as many times as we like, right?”

“That’s not the point,” Toby said.

Kale smiled. No, it wasn’t. Regardless of how many visits he could make, Toby would want each plate to look pretty.

Grabbing a plate of his own, Kale arrowed toward the island of seafood and spent half a minute dithering between snow crab legs and jumbo shrimp before remembering he could sample both. And clams, calamari, and little gray nuggets of flesh in black shells called oysters. He peeled slivers of firm, pink flesh away from a display arranged to look like a fish.

With his plate more than half full, he veered toward the vegetable island and layered seven different kinds of leaves with thin slices of cucumber, tomato, radish, and carrot. Like seafood, and meat that actually bled on the plate, fresh vegetables were a luxury deep city dwellers rarely saw.

He met Toby back at their table and they passed a lively half hour sampling everything from both plates. Then they went back for more. Kale’s tummy started rumbling before he finished his second plate, but he’d discovered the dessert bar and wanted to taste at least four of the delectable treats on offer. Maybe five. Six if he wanted to include some fresh fruit.

He managed one dessert, a slice of apple pie. Beside him, Toby was working his way through a sundae he’d constructed himself. With his gut stretched beyond satiety, Kale found the sight of all that ice cream vaguely nauseating. But he enjoyed Toby’s enthusiasm. As he sipped his coffee, though, a vague sense of melancholy wound through him. At first, he thought it might be homesickness. The amenities of the hotel far surpassed the tiny apartment he and Toby shared, sixty-one levels below the surface of what had once been a thriving city. But Las Vegas was loud, and the city seemed to move and breathe around them. The sun shone so brightly—almost relentlessly on it all. And the heat, the smells. People sweating and… He eyed the buffet again. Consuming.

His belly grumbled again.

The excess bothered him. Not just because it would all be gone in five years. More, it was that no one around him seemed to care. They didn’t understand.

They didn’t know.

“Hey.” Toby elbowed him gently in the side.

“Watch it. Dig that elbow any deeper and I might show you what I ate last.”

“So gross.”

Kale smiled.

“You’re looking a bit too thoughtful,” Toby said.

“Just a little homesick.”

Toby opened his mouth, expression set to friendly rebuke, then he stopped, smiled, and reached up to caress Kale’s cheek. “We’ll be home soon enough, big guy.” He grabbed Kale’s hand. “C’mon. I want to go see the fountains.”

The push through the still crowded casino floor wore on Kale’s nerves. Lingering heat from the day stole his breath when they finally emerged into the night. There was a slight breeze, but the press of so much humanity stunted its effectiveness. The crowds of Minneapolis Deep had never bothered him this much. He must just be tired.

Toby used his smaller stature to elbow through the throng. Kale wedged his bulk into each opening. Every disgruntled sound from the people they passed scratched against his psyche. Then the fountain show started and a collective gasp quieted the night.

Music, color, and water surging upward in symphony. It was beautiful. It was tragic. Kale blinked against tears that made no sense, and decided that perhaps he’d caught some spray in his eyes. But the ache in his chest couldn’t be explained so simply. He hadn’t realized he’d stepped back until Toby looked up at him, bright eyes reflecting the leaping plumes of water.

“What’s wrong?’

Shaking his head, Kale directed his lover’s attention back toward the fountains. Toby pulled him backward instead. They worked their way through the spectators until they reached the fringe, then Toby asked his question again.

Biting his lips, Kale considered his response before giving it. He didn’t want to break Toby’s heart, but… “I don’t want to get married here,” he finally said.

The hurt he’d expected flashed through Toby’s eyes. “But why?”

“It’s too sad, Tobes. It’s amazing. I’m glad I’ve seen it, but I can’t stop thinking about the fact all this will be gone in a few years. The waste and the futility. That’s not how I think of us.”

“We’re going to be together for longer than five years, Kale.”

Kale sought the right words to explain what felt like irrational thoughts. “But Las Vegas won’t be here. Not like this.”

Toby was silent for a while. Around them, the music continued to swell and dip, and the water that would eventually evaporate beyond humanity’s ability to recover it, cavorted and played in rhythm. He gazed toward the fountain, something like longing on his face, then he squeezed Kale’s hand. “Okay. Let’s go home.”

Two white dices isolated on white.The colors were brilliant, the rising sun picking vibrant hues of red and gold from the sand and stone. Kale wriggled free of his sleeping bag and pushed to his feet, turning his face toward Sunrise Mountain. A vivid lip of sunlight blazed between the peaks. Below, the desert was quiet and serene, the dawn air almost cool. A breeze stirred against Kale’s skin. He could smell only dirt and sand and warming sunshine. And Toby, who always smelled the same to him, regardless of how often he changed his cologne.

Kale nudged his husband’s sleeping bag. “Rise and shine, babe.”

Blinking, Toby sat up and tugged on his sleep flattened hair. He mumbled as he encouraged a wide, green brush to stand straight up from his scalp. The rest of his skull was covered by a soft orange fuzz that glowed in the morning light. He’d changed the style for their wedding, which they’d had at home. Kale had been right; Minneapolis Deep needed the color of men like Toby, and exchanging their vows there, where they lived and loved, had felt good.

But so did their choice of honeymoon destination.

Kale held out his hand and Toby struggled out of his sleeping bag and came to join him. Together, they gazed out over the valley. The ruins of Las Vegas threw long shadows across the desert. The casinos were there, half buried, and between them, you could still trace The Strip. Las Vegas Boulevard. A roller-coaster curled above a drift in the vicinity of New York, New York, and Paris’s Eiffel Tower drew a more complicated pattern across the rising tide of sand. Kale couldn’t pick out the colors on the turrets of Excalibur, but he remembered them.

“It’s beautiful,” Toby said.

Kale looked down at his husband. “And sad.”

Toby cocked his head. “Still?”

“A little. Not like it was then.” A week ago for them, eighty-five years in the past for the rest of the world. “It’s more like a held breath now. As if it’s waiting.”

“For what?”

For us to come back and remember it.

Sand covered most of what had been outlying suburbs and industry, but with a holographic overlay map, you could match the smooth areas, bumps, and depressions to old landmarks. But the valley would never be reclaimed by humanity. Not in their lifetimes, anyway. And the substructure beneath the desert was too unstable for a dirt scraper.

Kale squeezed Toby’s hand. “Maybe it was waiting for this. Our first dawn as husband and husband.”

Toby’s smile was as bright as the rising sun. “My romantic fool.”

“Mmm.” Kale nosed Toby’s temple. “It’s wondrous and unforgettable, which is what I wanted for our wedding. And it’s a monument to what we’ve been able to achieve. Who we were. Who we still are. Who we will always be.”

“You’re saying we’re going to keep trying to build cities in the desert.”

Kale extended a finger toward the sky. “Frozen deserts now, millions of kilometers away, but yeah. And some of what we’ll build will be useful and some of it will be just like this. A city with no real purpose.” Of greed and lust and waste. “Something just for fun.”

“And that’s a good thing?”

“I don’t know, Tobes. But isn’t that what makes us human?”

“Well, I kinda liked that city of sin.”

“I did too. But not as much as I like this. Us, together, with the rising sun painting pictures across the sand. It’s quiet now. Restful.”

Toby turned back toward the view. “Yeah. And it’s not going to change much in five years, is it?”

“Nope. Or ten, twenty, thirty. The casinos might just be lumps beneath the sand in fifty years.”

“I’ll still love you then,” Toby said.

Kale’s chest swelled with the joy of his husband’s simple statement. “And I’ll still love you.” Tugging on Toby’s fingers, he drew him back toward the sleeping bags. “C’mon. I think the sun can finish rising without us.”

 

Two white dices isolated on white.

 

KellyJensenIf aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do. In the meantime, she plans to keep reading, writing about reading, and writing stories of her own.

Find her on Twitter @kmkjensen, or visit her website at http://kellyjensenwrites.com.

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#HAHABT Winner!

HAHABT 2015Group hugs and a huge thank you to everyone who made this year’s hop a success! A hop like this one takes a lot of planning, and a lot of participation–and everyone did an amazing job.

Random. org tells me Angela is the winner of one of my backlist books! I’ve emailed you, so if you don’t see it check your spam folder. 🙂 Thank you for visiting, Angela!

Thank you to everyone who visited, shared, and commented on my post. My TBR list has grown over the past week, and that’s always a good thing!

rainbow rose

Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia! #HAHABT

 Welcome to this year’s Hop, and Happy Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia!

The first year I participated in this hop it was the Hop Against Homophobia, last year saw the addition of Transphobia, and this year we’re also working to combat Biphobia. The last two are things I encounter on a daily basis, so in my humble opinion this hop gets better every year. 🙂

In my post, I’m going to talk a little about biphobia and give away winner’s choice of one of my backlist books. All you have to do to enter is answer the question by commenting on this post, anytime between now and May 24th at midnight Pacific time.

I hope you all have a lot of fun on the hop, and get some good conversations going!

First, there seems to be a bit of confusion about what bisexuality actually is. And since understanding is an important step toward acceptance, here it is in a nutshell. Bisexuals are not reinforcing society’s artificially-imposed gender binary solely by existing, we don’t dislike or exclude the trans community (many trans individuals are also bisexual) and we’re not, as a whole, indecisive or greedy.

So what does it mean to be bisexual?

It means being attracted to people of the same gender, or a different gender. That last bit is important. “A different gender” doesn’t mean a specific gender, it means “a gender by which the bisexual in question does not identify.”

It’s that simple and that complex.

I understand it can be difficult for monosexuals to wrap their heads around—just like I can’t fully understand what it’s like to only be attracted to one gender. In the spirit of the Hop Against Homophobia, Bi- and Transphobia, I’ll try to explain my own experience.

What it starts and ends with is the individual, their personality, shared experience and interests, and whether or not we click.

In my five decades on this planet, i’ve had… a couple of relationships. When I was with a man, I was still bisexual. When I was with a woman, yep, you guessed it—still bisexual. Some people out there might be nodding and thinking I’m promiscuous, but they would be wrong. (Probably… depending on their personal definition of promiscuous. ;))

All things being equal (although we know they never are, please come along with me for the ride :)) I am just as likely to be romantically and/or sexually attracted to someone who identifies as female as to someone who identifies as male or genderqueer/fluid or agender, or any of the other variants that exist. It depends on the individual. This makes it almost impossible for me to use online dating services, by the way. If I say I’m looking for a woman and identify as bi nobody responds; if looking for a man and say I’m bi, I get couples looking for a threesome or a unicorn.

Biphobia makes a lot of bisexuals feel as though we have to hide our true identity or be rejected. Some choose to identify as queer to get around that, some don’t; some folks who identify as queer are not bisexual. This is why it’s important to push back against biphobia, so we can identify as we wish, without fear. I’ve come out of and been pushed back into a lot of closets since the ‘70s—by members of the mainstream heterosexual community and by the LGBTQ+ community. Neither is any fun, but it’s far more difficult to be given the stink-eye by someone (or a whole lot of someones all at once) who also identify somewhere along the queer spectrum.

 

Well, I think that’s enough for one post. Now I’m going to ask you a question, and if you answer in the comments you’re in the running to choose a book from my backlist.

By the way, the choice also includes the Harmony Ink Press anthology First Time for Everything—US residents can get a paperback copy if they’d like to pass it on to a teen or a library after reading it. Click here for a list of my adult backlist titles.

Okay, it’s not really a question, more like a task: name a book with either a bisexual or transgender main character. Name one that has never appeared on any bestseller list, and that’ll get you two entries.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to visit the rest of the blogs on the #HAHABT, participate in the dialogue and maybe end up with a prize. 🙂

Click here to go to the #HAHABT blog and find the list!

rainbow rose

 

 

 

 

 

Team Taste the Rainbow Blog Hop!

If you’re looking for my snippet, click here or scroll a little. Or, you could read on and then click or scroll. 🙂

Welcome to my Team Taste the Rainbow Hop post!

Draven St. James organized this hop to celebrate one year as a published author. Thanks and congrats Draven!

This hop is all about celebrating the lovefest that is the LGBTQ reading/writing community. It feels like I’ve been looking for this all my life (and no, I won’t be taking numbers here ;)).

Back in the 90s—when all submissions were on paper, and a rejection where the editor/agent didn’t half-destroy your manuscript before cramming it into the SASE was a big deal—I wrote queer fiction. My protags were usually bisexual women, but they had friends and family across the rainbow. With every “the writing is great but I can’t sell this” I felt a little more discouraged.

Fast-forward to 2012. With the encouragement of a lovely friend, I submitted to Dreamspinner. That first sub didn’t fit the anthology call but by February of 2013 DsP had contracted my first novella, and in one month they’ll release my first full-length novel!

Okay, now it’s time for the good part. My hop prize is any of my Dreamspinner stories that are released. Your choice! All you have to do is tell me the last queer book you read and why you chose it. Easy-peasy.

Don’t forget to visit all the other stops and spread the love!

Click here to get to the linky list!

DsP logo

Hop Against Homophobia and Transphobia

Welcome to my HAHAT post!

I’m happy to be a part of this hop again, to celebrate and raise awareness of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The hop is over 130 strong this year! We’ll be at it through May 24th, which gives you plenty of time to hop around and tell all your friends. Visit as many stops as you can, because everyone is hosting a prize!

My prize is a $10 Credit to Dreamspinner Press!

All you have to do is answer my question at the end to enter. If you want to Like my FB Author Page that’ll get you another entry.

 

Why you’ll never see me with my asterisk hanging out.

It’s become popular to include an asterisk after the word trans when you mean transgender. I get how it started—the asterisk is a wildcard, because not every trans person uses the same modifier. But not everyone is on board and I want to tell you why.

Definitions abound, but I copied this one from Dictionary.com (emphasis added):

asterisk

as·ter·isk

[as-tuh-risk]

noun

1. a small starlike symbol (*), used in writing and printing as a reference mark or to indicate omission, doubtful matter, etc.

2. Linguistics . the figure of a star (*) used to mark utterance that would be considered ungrammatical or otherwise unacceptable by native speakers of a language, as in * I enjoy to ski.

3. Historical Linguistics . the figure of a star (*) used to mark a hypothetical or reconstructed form that is not attested in a text or inscription.

4. something in the shape of a star or asterisk.

Asterisks are commonly used to direct a reader’s attention to a footnote or other explanatory text. My daughter is not a footnote. She also is not hypothetical, doubtful matter, or otherwise unacceptable, thanks very much.

I understand the thought process that led to this usage but I don’t know anyone personally who is trans and who isn’t put-off by it. Every time I see it, I have to remind myself not to look at the bottom of the page—because there won’t be anything there.

I’m not saying every trans person on the planet has, or should have, the same opinion. I’m only saying that in my experience, the asterisk following the word trans is not something a cis woman such as myself has any business using.

I’m not perfect, but I listen, and I try.

One more thing before I go. A lot of people I know IRL know my daughter is trans; a lot don’t. A week doesn’t go by without someone saying something transphobic where I can hear it. Many times I can’t call them out on it—the person has power over me in such a way that I can’t afford to embarrass them and/or tick them off. When I do speak up, or often even when I just don’t go along and laugh at the “joke” the people involved look at me differently. And not in a good way. I’m glad this hop exists; we need more events like this, online and in meatspace, and for the events to be inclusive. I’d love to see an event called the Stop Bigotry Hop, or the Accept Everyone Hop—or something that’s a little catchier. 🙂 I’m sure it’s possible to figure out a cool title that includes Aces and Bisexuals and Genderqueer folks—the whole Rainbow Brigade. Someday, someday soon, I hope we get together celebrate how far we’ve come.

To enter my contest for a $10 gift card to Dreamspinner Press/Harmony Ink Press, all you have to do is tell me what your preferred pronoun is. You can state your orientation as well, but it’s not mandatory for an entry.

DsP logoMy winner will be chosen by Random.org, and I’ll contact them within 24 hours of the end of the hop. If I don’t hear back within 48 hours I’ll choose another winner.

Okay, I think that’s all.

I’ll start.

I’m the cisgender bisexual mother of a trans lesbian, and my pronoun is she/her.

Now you!

Oh, and don’t forget to head back to the main site for the full list of particpants!

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I must be crazier than I thought…

Because I signed up for way too many things this weekend! *lol*

The Spring Fling Blog Hop is still going strong, and my weekly snippet is here.

But that didn’t seem like quite enough, so I’m participating in the Rainbow Gold Reviews week long Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt!pot-of-gold-rgr

Today’s scavenger hunt theme is…Food & Sweet Romance!

Rules and information are here. While you’re there, scroll to the bottom of the page and find the list of participating blogs for today!

Somewhere in one of my blog posts you’ll find my “word of the day”: Angel Food Cake.

When you find it, snag the URL and shoot it to Rainbow Gold Reviews at the rules and information link above.  (The form has instructions.)

There will be prizes for the ones with the most words or phrases found daily. If you’d like to participate, and get your very own word/phrase of the day, there’s still time.

SIGNUP OPEN

Break a leg! 😀

Spring Fling Blog Hop!

Welcome Spring Fling Blog Hoppers!

You know the drill—hop around to a bunch of cool blogs, leave comments, maybe win a prize!

Grand Prize is a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

My prize is a $10 Amazon Gift Card. For a shot at it, all you have to do is answer my question. The hop runs through the 20th and I’ll let Random.org choose the winner on Monday, April 21st.

Enter for the Grand Prize using the Rafflecopter link at the end of my post.

Good luck, Manlove lovers!

shutterstock_77522287I realized, as I pondered what to blog about for this hop, that a lot of my stories are set in the Spring. It’s not my favorite season (that’s Autumn :)), but I do love it when the weather starts warming up and the flowers start blooming. I spend a lot of dough on allergy meds in Spring, but I love it anyway.

Since I’m buried under deadlines of all kinds (and couldn’t think of anything more entertaining) I’ll leave you with a couple of Spring excerpts–one I haven’t shared yet from my Love’s Landscapes story. This will be the last one, I swear! 🙂

In Curious Sustenance, Ross and Miles meet in the winter, but they get to the good part in Spring.

Ross passed twin trees on either side of the walk—thick trunks supporting neat umbrellas loaded with pink buds—and up the two sets of steps to the porch—red brick, and wood painted to match the blue trim. The door opened before he could knock, and he was invited in by the most gorgeous man he’d ever seen—bar none. Miles wore faded jeans and a T-shirt with a tree on it. And he was barefoot. That struck Ross as endearingly vulnerable and intimate.

 

Better Than Newcoffee cup with pixel hearth, the story I wrote for this year’s Don’t Read in the Closet event, also takes place in the spring. Here’s an excerpt I haven’t shared before. It’s still one step short of finished, so any errors are all my fault.

My hero, Theo, is at a volunteer meetingsorry, no plot points or juicy bits. I’m saving those for Jenna and the official release day! The “I” is Theo. 🙂

 

“Okay, now that we’re all here,” Hil grinned and patted my shoulder, “nobody’s leaving until all shifts are covered. And I mean nobody.”

“I’ll take one during the parade.” I pumped coffee into the heavy snow leopard mug. Sharon sat opposite me; she slid the cinnamon-sugar shaker across the table. It stopped right in front of me and she grinned. Her grin said either she’d figured out Ben was the guy I liked, or she noticed how high-schooler looked at me. Maybe both. “Thanks.”

“Okay, one down, three of the nasty slots left to fill before—”

A chorus of snickers rose around the table.

“You guys are horrible!”

We talked about who was going to be stuck inside the fences manning booths with me during the Pride Parade. Everyone had an excuse, so it took the next two hours to cut through all the crap. High-schooler’s mom arrived about an hour into it, and she grabbed a coffee and a muffin and sat down with her Ereader to wait. Nobody messed with Hil’s meetings—some people get what they want because they want it.

I’d done my part, but wasn’t in any hurry to try and get out of there. If enough people had the evening free, we might even end up going in on dinner and playing board games until Ben kicked us out. That would be worth sitting through a meeting of any length, especially since I missed the check-in. Hil, aside from being fabulous and the darling of every non-profit serving the rainbow in the Portland Metro Area, was the proud owner of a wild and overactive imagination. At the beginning of every meeting we all had to introduce ourselves, state our orientation and preferred pronoun, and then answer a question. The orientation and pronoun were optional but the questions, never, and even though I haven’t figured out how, they reveal far too much about what’s going on inside my head on any given first Tuesday of the month. The last one was, “What texture are you today?”

Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to catch up with Theo (and Ben), you can find more excerpts here.

Now for the question. Answer this for a chance at a $10 Amazon Gift Card:

What texture are YOU today?

Don’t forget to enter the Grand Prize drawing:  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to go back to the linky list and hop on!

tilted rose

The Power of Love Valentine’s Day Blog Hop!

Welcome to The Power of Love Blog Hop! I’m glad you stopped by to help us celebrate Valentine’s day, M/M style. Once you’ve looked around my place, don’t forget to check out the other stops. You can get to the list by clicking the graphic above, or the button at the end of my post.

What do you get for all that reading & clicking? My prize will go to someone in the US who answers my question and chooses between chain, parachute cord, or ribbon. (To hang your pendant on, of course! What did you think I meant?)

If the random number generator chooses an INT hopper, they’ll get $10 to ARe or Amazon!

photo credit: Diana Topan via photopin cc

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Those are three words I haven’t said much in my lifetime. Even when I was young, I didn’t feel like this holiday was for me…and now I usually mark it by starting my annual search for Cadbury Creme Eggs.

But this hop isn’t about me, it’s about Love and Romance. Most of my heroes are older, or otherwise don’t fit into the standard Romance Hero mold. I have a soft spot for the guys who, for whatever reason, made it into their thirties (or forties, or beyond) without finding The One. It feels strange for me to consider a man in his late thirties an older man but in Male-Male Romance, that’s practically ancient. Maybe I’m looking in all the wrong places, but in most of the books I find the heroes top-out in their early thirties—if that.

In the 21st Century, the general wisdom is that everyone spends their teen years figuring out what kind of love they’re after, armed with all the info on the internet. I think some people have a hard time believing a man wouldn’t know who he was—that he wanted to spend his life with another man, or two men, or maybe a man and/or a woman—by the time he graduated from high school. Another assumption is that everyone goes to college, finds acceptance with the family of their heart, and tromps happily-ever-forward to find The One. All by the age of 22. No pressure.

I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in real life but I can tell you, a lot of people aren’t driven to find someone to settle down with (or even mess around with) during their teens and early twenties. A lot of people don’t spend their time watching internet porn and learning how the logistics go, or navel-gazing about what their type is. I have nothing against internet porn or navel-gazing (if you could only see my cache…) but I don’t want to write about people who are overachievers in matters of the heart. I think it’s more interesting to write about the folks who don’t perfectly execute their carefully planned lives.

Take Ross and Miles from Curious Sustenance; Ross spent most of his life overweight, in part because his focus was on his activism and not on himself, and Miles had to overcome a deep sense of failure that wasn’t even his own. They both pursued their dreams and had full lives with friends, family and fulfilling work, but both felt like something was missing…until they found each other. They’re both in their late thirties and I think they’re pretty sexy.

Cover-CuriousSustenanceRoss Jenson is looking forward to a little midmorning delight to celebrate making Lifetime in Weight Watchers, but after he spent eight months losing ninety-eight pounds, what his lover gets him is a triple-layer chocolate cake. When Ross refuses to eat it, the newly minted ex leaves the country and dumps him via e-mail, with three sentences and a link to a chubby chasers web site. A few days later, Ross’s best friend and workout buddy takes him to her favorite club for drinks. Ross is shocked when he realizes it’s a sex club but warms to the idea in record time when a mysterious Japanese man and his silken ropes sweep him off his feet. Ross has never thought of himself as adventurous, but he can’t stop thinking about the man who makes his bones feel like gummy worms.

In this excerpt, Ross and Miles ran into each other at Powell’s City of Books and went to the cafe for coffee. “Shaggy” is the pseudonym Miles uses at the club.

“So, Shaggy? How’d that happen?”

Miles half turned toward Ross. He’d been looking up at the second-floor windows across the street just as Ross had and now looked a little pale.

“Sorry. I mean, if that’s supposed to be secret, or— Ah, never mind.” Ross sipped his coffee, but his throat didn’t feel capable of letting it pass. He almost spit it all against the window in front of him when Miles leaned closer.

“It’s a nickname I got in middle school. My last name is Shigihara, so you can see how very imaginative it was.” He raised an eyebrow and sipped his coffee, eyes smiling above the rim of the cup. “But it turned out to be strangely appropriate. I’ve never been afraid of running into any of those people at the club, but maybe I should think about that.”

“So you were a big fan of sandwiches?” A part of Ross cringed inside his head, but for once, he was able to shut that guy up and have a little fun.

The look Miles shot Ross before he took another drink said he’d never heard that one before.

Before he could answer, Ross moved on, pretty smoothly considering his nerve endings seemed to be reaching out to the gorgeous man whose elbow was so close it touched his arm whenever they both exhaled at the same time.

“Let me guess—you were named for Buddy Miles?”

It was Miles’s turn to narrowly escape painting the window with his coffee. He nodded as he coughed, and Ross expended a lot of energy resisting the urge to pat his back. Or grab his hair and pull his head back so he could lick a line up his throat and nuzzle that fledgling beard.

“Hello?”

“Oh, sorry, what?”

“I said most people guess Miles Davis and asked if you like Buddy Miles.”

“Oh, um, my sister has the Band of Gypsys album, and I think she used it to play me to sleep when I was little. Every time I hear a cut from that album, I get sleepy.”

Miles nodded and sipped carefully.

Ross felt impossibly proud that his silly guess turned out to be right. So much for thinking before speaking, it didn’t seem to be the absolute after all. He watched as Miles sipped his coffee, his eyes wandering again to the window across the street.

“So what do you do? When you’re not….”

Sweeping people off their feet with your smoky gaze and tapestry bag of silken rope.

Thanks for reading!

If you’ve made it this far you deserve something pretty to look at, so here you go!

photo credit: masterdesigner via photopin cc

One more bit of housekeeping and I’ll let you get on your way to the rest of the stops on The Power of Love hop! What album makes Ross feel sleepy? (Hint: scroll up)

Do you have a song or album that gets you in a particular mood?  Share! Mine is Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (it really mellows me out).

The hop runs through Feb. 16th and I’ll contact my winner by Tuesday the 18th. If I don’t hear back within 48 hours I’ll choose another winner–by random number generator. 🙂

QTA Christmas Blog Hop!

If you’re looking for a snippet, I’m taking this weekend off.  The good news is you’re getting two excerpts for the price of 8 sentences!  Or something like that.

If you’re looking for my BTS Christmas Paws Blog Hop post, scroll down one or click here.

If you’re looking for my QTA Christmas Blog Hop post, you’re in the right place! This hop runs from Dec 8th through the 13th (EST), and the list of prizes is too large to mention!   At the end of my post is a question–follow the Rafflecopter link & you’ll find the place to enter your answer.  It’s a one-word answer, and should be an easy entry!

 The list of prizes on the QTA site is impressive, and I’m adding to it with a tiny leather saddlebag key chain for US entries (okay, the whole thing is 4″ x 2.5″) and a $5 Amazon GC for the INT crowd.

2013-12-08180328_zpsd6c2e66fHappy Holidays Hoppers!

Ian Bowen, the main character in my Dreamspinner Advent Calendar story “Toy Run” is a man of few words. So few it’s not easy to get to know the guy, so I’ve pushed him to center stage for this hop and he will share a holiday memory or the spotlight stays on. And quit that grumbling…

Okay.

*sigh* Granddad wasn’t big on holidays, except Christmas. He and his buddies always collected toys to drop off at the firehouse or went on toy runs—they’d hit two or three in the state if everyone could get the time off work.

When I was a kid, he’d cook for days—cookies and cinnamon rolls and a huge breakfast that morning. He wouldn’t let me open one present until after I ate, either, the hardass.

My favorite Christmas cookie is still pfeffernüsse—dipped in chocolate or dusted with powdered sugar…not that Granddad approved of fancying them up. Before I learned how fast he’d cave and break out the chocolate I ate a shitload of those spicy Scrabble tiles plain.

Charley wants me to share the recipe, so here it is. This recipe makes about 120 little cookies. I’m not the cook Granddad was so I can’t guarantee your results. Just don’t skimp on the chocolate or powdered sugar. The kids will thank you.

Ingredients

2 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup candied ginger or candied fruit, finely chopped

1-1/2 tsp grated lemon rind

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 pinch ground cloves

1 pinch allspice

1 pinch salt

1/3 cup icing sugar

Preparation

In large bowl, beat together eggs, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until slightly thickened and light in color, about 6 minutes. Fold in candied ginger and lemon rind.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, pepper, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt ; stir into egg mixture with wooden spoon. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead until combined.

Divide into 12 portions. Roll each portion into 10-inch rope; cut into 1-inch pieces (be careful if you want them to stay round, but they taste just as good square). Place, 1/2 inch apart, on 2 parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheets. Bake in center of 325°F oven for 15 minutes or until light brown. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes.

Into bowl, sift icing sugar. Roll cookies in sugar, a few at a time, to coat. Let cool on rack. (The recipe card says they’ll last for up to a month, but you’ll have to take their word on that.)

Thanks, Ian!  I know that wasn’t easy for you. 🙂

Here’s a little excerpt, and then I’ll share the links.

SUNSHINE STREAMED through the open curtains about five minutes later. At least that’s what it felt like. Ed was still dead to the world, so I helped myself to a shower and then prowled his refrigerator. That kitchen belonged to a man who was happy to stay on his property. Even with my relatively limited skills, I had a half-dozen choices of breakfast. He peeked in as I poured eggs into a skittering-hot frying pan.

He just looked at me for a long time, then walked behind me and sat in a kitchen chair. His appliances were all new, state-of-the-art, but his round oak table and the four chairs around it were as old as the house. Maybe older.

“Sleep okay?”

When he didn’t answer, I looked to make sure he wasn’t coming at me with a knife, and his face looked like Granddad’s after I fixed his bum leg for him. Only not like that at all.

Thanks for reading!

To enter the grand prize giveaway, take the answer to this question and enter it in the Rafflecopter:

Who baked Christmas cookies for Ian when he was a kid?

Don’t forget to click back to QTA and keep hopping! Each blog has a question for the Rafflecopter and a recipe to share!

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BTS Christmas Paws Blog Hop!

Welcome to my Christmas Paws Blog Hop post! The hop will run through December 10th, and feature posts about books and pets! Two of my favorite things.  🙂

The Grand Prize is $200 and something special for the winner’s pet!

My prize is a copy of my Christmas story “Toy Run”.

IMG_5919

It’s no secret I’m a cat-person, I love my old lady and little guy. Both of them were rescues, as were all but two of the animals I’ve had over my entire life. I’ve always identified with the underdog, so it makes sense.

When I started writing “Toy Run” I had no idea three large dogs would show up and try to steal the show. I wanted to write to the theme “Heartwarming”, though, and animals seem to work at least as well as kids in that department.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from my short story, because my two masters are telling me it’s time to go pick up the kiddo!

Ed watched me cook a moment and then cursed under his breath.

“Turn that down and come with me a sec?”

I covered the pan and turned it off.

“You okay with dogs?”

I nodded, relief canceling most of the adrenaline he’d whipped up with his first question.

He opened the door at the far end of the kitchen, and I followed him out to the barn. The walkway was covered by a roof that seemed wide enough to keep a man dry most of the year, but I still would’ve been happier wearing more than a T-shirt. The front half of the barn held the truck and my bike, a fire-engine-red Buick Skylark convertible that had seen better days, and a shop with quite a few bells and whistles. He went straight through and in the back half was a dog palace. I had enough time to notice it was heated and make out a sofa, and then three big German shepherds sat in a row in front of me. “Big” didn’t quite do them justice—the smallest easily weighed a hundred pounds.

“Hey, guys,” he said to them, “this is my friend, Ian. Say hi.”

They came over and checked me out, and Ed introduced them as Perry, Paul, and Della. I grinned, and he shrugged.

“The week after I moved in here, someone dumped a sack in the ditch along the main road. I watched a lot of daytime television back then.”

“Take in a lot of strays, do you?”

The dog wearing a pink tag slipped her head under my hand and leaned against my leg. I scratched her behind the ears while I avoided eye contact with Ed.

“When something good comes along, I try not to let it pass me by.”

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Thanks for reading!

To enter my contest, share a pet-rescue story!

To enter for the grand prize, click below to get to the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to hop around & check out the rest of the entries!

Many thanks to BTS and Wild Child Publishing for organizing this hop to honor our furry friends!