The holidays are a busy time of the year for everyone, so this will be fast (I hope. I’m a wordy mothahfuckah). The voting has begun over on the M/M Romance Group Member’s Choice Awards on GoodReads. If you haven’t gotten a chance, here’s the link. From what I understand, you have to have been a member before November this year to be able to vote in the polls. Lots and lots of good authors and books in those lists. It’s very, very difficult to pick.
So, there’s some travel coming up for me, and I predict being pretty scarce (though I will try not to be). I’m working hard at the moment, though life seems to be getting me in the teeth lately. The paperwork to bring Kate to my side permanently hit a snafu (because people keep mistaking me for an adult, which duh, no) and I am seriously missing her, especially through the holidays. Forget the car trouble, the medical bills, the fucking up my back (again! JEEZ) and Amazon paying royalties late (first time in the three years I’ve been doing this, and their timing couldn’t have sucked more). That is just annoying. Her absence is what hurts late at night, when the house is dark, the glow of other people’s Christmas lights slat through the blinds in painfully cheerful blinking patterns, and the only heartbeat I hear is mine. If I’m cold, I have furbabies to snuggle with, but they have paws that have sharp things on the end. They’re not Kate’s soft embrace, or her warmth, and while I’m an open kind of girl, Kate doesn’t tend to lick me on the face. Furbabies aren’t the same.
I have also been diagnosed with severe sleep apnea, on top of the asthma, and wow, this year can go fuck itself gently with a chainsaw. I know a couple other people whose hands would fly into the air if I asked who else thinks 2014 can suck a live wire. So if you’re having a difficult time of things? You’re not alone. But hang in there. There is good out there. Like this:
I promised to donate a portion of sales of my last release, Consent, to Lost n Found Youth in Atlanta, GA, a shelter and homeless youth center for LGBT kids, and because of the generosity and awesomeness of my readers, we’re getting close to $1,500 on that check. I’m extending the period of sales for the donation tally until December 10th to coincide with a giveaway that will run beginning December 4th for a week. Keep an eye out for the link on Thursday.
To thank you all for your general awesomeness and to say happy holidays, I’m giving you an early Christmas gift, albeit a rough draft of one. Someone in Ben and Gavin’s world has been whispering in my ear, and while this is not another Power Exchange book, I’ve begun a story in which Ben and Gavin play a part, albeit a small one. You all remember McKnight, right? The pimp from Consent?
McKnight needed his own book.
One Year Ago
The check had more zeroes than McKnight had ever seen, and his mouth went dry as Dr. Benjamin DeGrassi finished writing it with a flourish of his pen. Suddenly, those zeroes were fatter and heavier for the weight of responsibility they carried, pregnant not only with promise and possibility, but with the risk of failure and intense disapproval from the two men McKnight respected most in this world.
“You sure about this? You’re willing to leave Chicago, move to St. Louis?” Ben’s husband, Gavin DeGrassi, asked, standing behind Ben with a hand on his shoulder. “You want to trade the life you’ve led up there for this one? Be at others’ beck and call virtually a hundred percent of the time? Have very little privacy, your every move scrutinized and critiqued not only by those who care for you but by those who want to see you crash and burn? Are you absolutely sure?”
McKnight swallowed and wiped his palms on his suit pants, the strains of music outside the winery’s barrel room creating a strange soundtrack to such a momentous decision.
“I want to be better,” he assured, pleased his voice held the conviction his gut hadn’t caught up to yet. “I want to do something, be a part of something bigger than myself. You guys have that already, and in a way people respect.”
Ben’s eyes crinkled in amusement and he glanced at his husband, who straightened and crossed his arms over his chest.
“That’s stretching it, but let’s pretend,” Gavin acquiesced. “You are positive? Last chance.”
Blinking calmly in the face of the fork in the road before him, McKnight nodded. “I’m positive. I want to do this. I need to do this. I want to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
Gavin nodded. “Okay, then.”
McKnight’s chest nearly burst with a giddy kind of euphoria, the kind he’d only ever felt taking risks, living in the moment. But this was bigger. This wasn’t selfish or self-absorbed. This was giving a piece of himself to others in a way he had never done. This was his surrender to a better life, a higher purpose than himself.
Ben cleared his throat, and McKnight looked at him, anticipation breaking an impossible-to-suppress grin out on his face.
“So this is the first installment, which will help you get the credentials you need, the certifications, and initial expenditures, just like we discussed. Gavin and I will be researching potential properties and when we find something suitable, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, you’ll handle your own moving expenses and those of your friends willing to move with you, and if you need help selecting neighborhoods to secure housing, let us know.”
“I will. I can’t thank you enough.”
“Oh, you will. This isn’t a loan. This is an investment. One we expect a return on, even if it’s not in dollars and cents.” Gavin’s stern expression sobered McKnight, and he tamped down on the excitement boiling in his veins.
“Gavin,” Ben playfully admonished. “Cut him some slack. This is a good idea, and it’s going to help people in the long run. I have faith in Mac.”
Gavin subsided with his glare of imminent death. Marginally. “I do, too. Or I wouldn’t be entrusting this to him.” He spoke directly to McKnight. “Your unique skill set puts you in a position to do great things with this investment. Please do not disappoint us, or worse, put a stain on Marshall’s memory.”
That, the reminder of what was at stake, of what all the promise was meant to make up for, sobered McKnight like nothing else.
“I won’t let you down. More importantly, I won’t let his memory down. You have my word,” McKnight promised.
Just then, Cole DeGrassi stuck his head in the door. “Gavin, are you and Ben going to miss the entire rest of your wedding reception? Get out here. You have shenanigans to get up to.”
Gavin rolled his eyes and waved his brother away. “Be there in a bit.”
“Trust me, guys,” McKnight implored. “I’ll do right by you and by Marshall.”
“Okay, then,” Ben said, his own smile splitting his face. “I just need one more thing.”
“What’s that?” McKnight asked.
“I have to know your name to make the check out to you,” Ben said, eyes twinkling.
“Oh! Sorry. It’s Drew McKnight. Or Andrew. Bank deposits either.”
Gavin gathered their three glasses from where they’d been forgotten on the table by the door and uncorked the bottle of wine he’d swiped from the reception when they’d snuck away. Pouring a healthy bit in each glass, he passed them out.
Pocketing the check enabling the biggest opportunity of his life to date, McKnight followed their lead when they raised their glasses.
“To the Marshall Schofield Youth Center,” Gavin said quietly.
Ben and McKnight repeated it, and they sealed their futures with a drink.