Yeah I know, I said the next episode of “Rob the Daemon” was coming next. And it was, really! It’s sold seven copies so far (thanks, you guys, you know who you are!), and that’s it. Rob may not be what the market wants, or he may need three stories out there before they start selling. I know what’s selling in gay paranormal is shifters/werewolves, and sorry but I’m just not into that bag, man! Just doesn’t frost my cupcakes, you know?
I have had my PERSONAL BEST sales month ever in November thanks to “Given the Circumstances” and the rising tide from it that’s lifted all my other boats. THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING AT BRAD-MART WHOOOO!!!!
So I realized, duh, I need to get another contemporary gayrom out there now! Definitely by the end of December, in time for what we selfpubbers call “Kindlemas” – the boom in sales that comes when everyone gets their new Kindles, and their Amazon gift cards, for Christmas.
And, the other night I had a story idea that’s practically writing itself. So look for the new novel, “The Worst Best Luck” by the end of December.
Now, as you know, I serialized my progress on GTC through September and October, and before I could go to press, there were suddenly a ton of college/pro gay football player stories on the gayrom ebookshelf. Correlation causation coincidence who knows… So the hook of this book might get beat to the bookshelf by those who write even faster than me… As long as y’all know I was the innovator, not the imitator, I can live with it 🙂
So there’s risk of course, but the thing about serializing is that it keeps me going, knowing I’m getting the positive feedback I need desperately to continue, to know I’m on the right track.
AND SO, that being said, here is your first taste! HAPPY LONG WEEKEND!
THE WORST BEST LUCK
“Do you have that ready for me?” Jeremy asked as he flew past Peter’s desk, not looking up from his BlackBerry.
“Have what ready for you?” Peter asked, palming a small object before Jeremy could see him do it. He had a pretty good idea what Jeremy was talking about, but he was trying to break him of the habit of starting his sentences in the middle of an idea. It probably wasn’t going to work, mostly because Jeremy enjoyed the confusing effect it had on most of his co-workers. But in an office this busy, “that” could mean a half dozen things at any given time. Peter had learned not to join in the general panics that seemed to spread like a virus every time there was a deadline.
Jeremy stopped and scowled at him. “The USB drive with my presentation on it.”
Peter opened his hand, like a magician showing off. “The magic bean, ready to plant.”
Jeremy smiled despite himself. “You rock.”
“Yes,” Peter agreed. “Yes, I do.” He turned back to his computer, where he had his hands full fixing some broken web links in a Flash training video. It had gone through three review cycles and nobody had seen it, until Peter had received it to post it to the company website, and had decided to click through it first. He’d thought about putting out an email to everyone who’d missed the glaring error, then decided it wasn’t worth it.
Creative types, he shrugged. Always cooking brilliant meals, and never cleaning up the kitchen afterwards. Well, that label was a stretch around here sometimes, he reminded himself. Using “advertising” and “creative” in the same sentence was enough to make his friends guffaw, never mind adding “brilliant” to the mix. Peter usually laughed with them, too.
He saw Katie at her desk, her red hair like a signal fire visible from the other side of the floor. The office was (other than the partners’ offices) one big gleaming white open plan space, no cubicles, all shiny glass desks and the latest Aeron chairs parked in front of huge Apple monitors.
He flipped his window to his instant messenger and pinged her to see if she was up for lunch. >Let your appetite run wild, at MacAfee’s! he typed with a grin.
She didn’t look up from her computer, but immediately typed back, >Special after five o’clock! Two seniors can eat for the price of one!.
>What a great deal! Because senior citizens love to leave the house after five!
>Seriously, where do you want to go? And it has to be after one, because I’ve got to get the B of R storyboards done for Martin.
Peter groaned. One of the agency’s accounts was a nationwide jewelry retailer, whose ads featured elderly people nodding and smiling approvingly when young men spent a month’s pay on a shiny geegaw, or showed a stepfather buying the love of his new wife’s little girl with a diamond necklace. Like Peter, Katie felt that if you really loved someone and wanted to blow a lot of money on them, a couple thousand bucks could be better spent on a European river cruise or some such, and not on an overpriced gift from Bradley of Rialto, whose products Katie secretly referred to as “Boxes of Rocks.”
>That’s fine. At least we’ll miss the lunch rush.
>Lemons, lemonade, she responded in her characteristic shorthand.
>Always. Like a diamond. Forever.
>I kill you now.
Peter laughed, then scowled as his phone rang. Dammit, it was Larry.
“Hi, Larry.” He steeled himself for the unreasonable request to come.
“Peter, I need you to punch up the WebMax material. Jane’s plane is stuck in a holding pattern and the plane’s wifi is out. I need it by 2 o’clock.”
“Larry, I’m an assistant. I don’t write copy.”
“Peter, I am asking you to step up here. This is a very important account and I need everyone to bring their A game.”
Peter rolled his eyes. He used to think people were just bullshitting when they spoke in CorpSpeak, that nobody actually talked like that outside of meetings and press conferences, that it was a smoke screen, that nobody really thought in the same language you’d use in a brochure. Then he met Larry, who not only drank the proverbial Kool-Aid, his veins ran purple with it.
“This could be a very big get for us, and I know you can do this.”
Peter knew now that he never should have let anyone (other than Katie) know that he blogged about theater as a hobby, and even had a reasonable following. Suddenly the agency knew he could write, and mistakenly assumed he’d naturally want to be an advertising copywriter, because who wouldn’t?
He sighed. “Larry, WebMax is gross.” It was true – the company was responsible for taking scams and near-scams and “maximizing their web presence.” If there was an AdSense ad that said ‘Your Town Mom makes millions whitening her teeth at home using this one simple weight loss rule!’ that was WebMax at work.
Larry paused, stunned. “They could be a very valuable client, Peter.”
“Well, valuable and gross, then.”
“So you’re telling me I can’t count on you.”
“I am telling you that you can count on me to do my job. I am not writing something about how terrific some sleazy outfit is, using words like ‘leveraging synergy for total quality value maximization’ or whatever.”
“Fine. And you can expect your bonus to reflect your unwillingness here.” Larry hung up, hard.
“What bonus?” Peter asked the air. The bonus he received last year was worthy of the Duke brothers from “Trading Places” – two trillionaires giving their butler five bucks for Christmas. Not five bucks each, either.
His screen was flashing with a message from Katie. >No lunch today. Box of Rocks PPT now needs animations. Must! Make! Shiny!
Peter sighed. Katie’s gift for making presentations beautiful was a curse sometimes. >OK. I’ll just go get some dirt and eat it in a ditch by myself.
>Sounds great! Have fun!
“Ahem,” said a slinky voice behind him.
Peter smiled. “Who can it be?” He turned around.
Kyle was gorgeous as ever, and he knew it as always. Tall, built, lean, with the broad shoulders and narrow hips that Slim Fit dress shirts were made for, he leaned against the white pillar as if he was made to stand next to columns, like the classical statue for which he could so easily be a model.
“Your secret gay lover,” Kyle purred, idly fingering open a second button on his shirt to reveal the cut channel between his smooth, golden pecs.
“You wish,” Peter said, but grinning as he did. Kyle was a flirt, and Peter knew that yeah, he half meant it, and given a holiday party, one too many eggnogs, and an invitation, Kyle might be willing to have him over the copy machine. Of course then he’d lose interest, be as cold to Peter as he was to that poor starry-eyed intern who’d sucked him off in the supply closet last week. Which Peter knew because he’d caught them, inconveniently running out of printer toner just then.
Besides, Peter told himself, it would only be because you’re convenient. You’re a bland looking bowl of mush, Peter, and you’d never make the first move anyway. Peter knew what he was, as his ex, Cody, had always made sure he knew. “Peter Rabbit,” Cody used to say, “scaredy cat, little mouse.” Some part of him wanted to contradict that if only because of all the mixed metaphors, but the other part of him, the scaredy cat he supposed, didn’t have the nerve. Cody used to say those things as he held Peter, but not as a lover would hold another – more like the way a predator would play with its dinner, letting Peter know how lucky he was to have someone as gorgeous as Cody, who should have known better. Funny how a man’s touch could make you feel colder.
“I need you,” Kyle whispered, closing his eyes and running his elegant hand through his wavy, $200 haircut.
“At your service, m’lord,” Peter said with a mock bow.
Kyle opened one eye. “Hmm. Yeah, I bet you like that. You’ve got such an attitude when people try and command you around here, I bet in the bedroom you love being bossed around.”
“That’s different,” Peter said, and Kyle’s eyes widened in shock. Then he burst out laughing.
“You are full of surprises. Listen, I do need a favor. My car needs to get serviced. Too.”
Kyle pulled his billfold out, and extracted one of the many hundred dollar bills he kept there at all times, as Peter well knew, having made deals with Kyle before.
“Take your lunch hour and get Miss Yvonne to the garage, would you please?” Kyle knew the answer because the Benjamin was already in Peter’s hand.
“Right, keys.” Kyle tossed them and Peter caught them easily. “And I’ll text you the address of the new place; I’m not using the dealership anymore. Make sure you get my guy there, ask for Matt, nobody else is to touch her. Oh, and don’t look in the glove compartment.”
“Any time.” Truth be told, he probably would have done it for free. Kyle was one of the few creative directors who actually treated Peter well, and who never considered verbally abusing people to be motivating or effective. Though given his financial situation, he wasn’t going to turn down the hundred bucks, either.
Especially since the errand required driving in Manhattan, definitely the least relaxing activity Peter knew of. But it was nice to play king for a day, he thought as he eased the all-too-comfy two-seater Mercedes SLK onto Madison Avenue from the building’s parking garage – or king for a half hour, anyway.
He had to laugh when he stopped at the light at Central Park South and saw two gorgeous male models crossing in front of him, carrying bags from the Apple Store. Both of them turned to look at him, magnetically drawn by the shine, the curves, the low purr of the Darth-Vader’s-helmet-black car. He knew they were models because he’d spent half a day last week rearranging their pictures on a storyboard.
Peter always sighed painfully when he heard himself described as “nice-looking.” Nice-looking was what guys in most commercials were, as he well knew from working at Ball-Smithson. Handsome enough to be appealing, but not so perfect that they would keep the customer from identifying with them. A beer commercial level of good-looking, not that glossy, glowing beauty of the guy selling suits. And besides, you don’t even have that kind of looks, he told himself. You’ve got a face for comedy, as Cody used to say.
These two guys had what the industry obliquely referred to as “aspirational” looks. You saw them driving a Lexus and you wanted to be that guy, gorgeous and rich, and you know what? If you drove a Lexus, hey presto you would be. And they were looking at Peter because for that one moment, he was that guy. The Mercedes made it so. He laughed – hell, in this industry, even the models drink the Kool-Aid.
Then they were gone, and the light turned green, and he made a right on 51st to head down towards Hell’s Kitchen. He’d taken the car to the dealership before, but this was the first time he’d gone to this garage.
He liked this neighborhood – it was real, a place where real people did real things, no symbolic analysts or knowledge workers down here. This was where the cars got fixed, the repair shops were located, where half the buildings had entrances with roll-up doors, because trucks were always coming in and out with actual stuff – a million miles from Madison Avenue, for sure.
He pulled into the garage and got out. There was nobody in the office, and he walked through it into the shop. The place was busy, for sure, with gleaming foreign imports up on racks and machinery whirring and spinning and clackaclacking as these guys did…whatever guys did with cars, Peter thought.
“I’m looking for Matt!” he nearly yelled over the death metal music at a guy in safety glasses.
The guy cocked his head. “Back there, last bay.”
Peter walked carefully through the garage, looking down so as not to trip on the hoses and channels and…stuff. In the last bay, there was a man with his back to Peter, and he couldn’t help but notice the incredibly fine ass that even a saggy pair of black Ben Davis pants couldn’t hide as the man bent over the engine of a vintage yellow Merc SL, the great-granddaddy of Kyle’s model.
“Matt?” Peter inquired. “Matt!”
The man didn’t look up. Then Peter noticed the earbuds, knew what they were because he had a pair himself – Bose noise-cancelling earphones.
“Ahem!” he shouted, knowing from many a plane trip that the cancelling function wouldn’t cancel out loud human voices.
Matt turned around, pulling the earbuds out as he did.
Peter blinked. Cat eyes, he thought for a moment as Matt’s face came into full view and his emerald green eyes locked on Peter’s sea-green ones. He had a face that made the models Peter had just seen look like chopped liver. High cheekbones, finely drawn nose, perfect eyebrows that weren’t, didn’t need to be, plucked or modified. A razor sharp jaw, perfect lips…
And worst of all, the part that killed him, a great smile, like a blast of sunshine on a cloudy day. “Hey, you must be Peter. Kyle called this morning and said you’d be coming.”
Normally Peter would rolled his eyes, thinking about Kyle’s presumptuousness in scheduling his errand before asking him. But Matt had him floored. Sure, mechanics were hot, inherently, and usually had decent bods like most people who didn’t have to sit at a desk all day. But Matt had the chiseled look of an athlete, veins running down his cut biceps and channeled forearms like rivers on a map. His light brown hair fell down to his earlobes, clean and shiny, its blond highlights from the summer sun only adding to his catlike glamour.
“Yeah I um that’s me.”
Matt blinked, then the corner of his mouth turned out – not up, in a smirk, but sideways, as he realized Peter was hot for him. It was a look that said “Yeah! All right!”
A look that said, “Let’s fuck!” Peter thought, his insides relocating their blood to his groin. Could this guy, this gorgeous butch dude, be gay? And into me?
No, stupid. He sees that you’re hot for him and it amuses him. Get over yourself.
“I’m Matt,” he said, extending his hand. Peter reached to shake it and Matt retracted it. “Oh, sorry, I should wipe it off first.”
No, Peter thought, I want to take your hot dirty greasy hand and run home and use that same hand to beat off with. “No problem,” Peter said regretfully as Matt pulled a wipe out of a yellow plastic container labeled GOJO.
“Now I can shake your hand.” Matt’s hand was like a shock to Peter’s system, strong and hot, and was that just a Dr. Lecter-ish caress of his fingertip as he let go?
“You okay?” Matt asked, still smiling. “Because you don’t look so good.”
“Oh! Sorry. I just…” Fuck it! He thought. “You are so amazingly handsome. And I’m just saying that,” he babbled hastily, “because I work in advertising, well, not really but I work in an advertising agency, and I see good looking guys or at least pictures of them all day and…”
“Takes one to know one!” Matt replied, and it took Peter a moment to process it.
“Oh, I get it. Because you think I’m…” No, of course not, think, dammit. That’s not what he…
“Yep! You know what you’re doing Friday night?”
“Um, not yet.” Hanging out with Katie, he thought, same as always, probably binge viewing some TV.
“Yeah you do,” Matt said, his eyes telling Peter something, something deep, something…crazy and wrong, because what they were saying was, I like you, I want you.
“You’re going out with me,” Matt said, just like you’d say, you’re going to work today.
Peter laughed. “I’m going out with you?”
“Okay!” They stood there, laughing, Matt in pleasure and Peter in shock. Peter could hardly, could not, believe his luck. This doesn’t happen to YOU. This happens to other people. Better looking, confident, happy people.
But it was happening, it did happen. Then it occurred to him. Don’t worry, it’s all bullshit, he’ll blow you off, another flake who won’t even call to cancel, just…won’t show up. The thought cheered him, freed him from fear. Yep, everything would happen exactly as he’d foreseen!
“Well, I have to get back to work now. Do I need to sign anything or…?”
“No, Kyle’s on file. Tell him I’ll give him a call tomorrow and let him know what the damage is.”
“Will do. Well…it’s nice to meet you.”
“You too. See you tomorrow night. Oh, yeah, I need your number.”
“Right! Duh, huh?” Matt handed Peter a clipboard and he wrote it down on a scrap of paper. “Okay, then.”
“Okay, man. Have a great rest of your day.”
Peter walked out of the garage looking as if he’d been hit by a truck, at least, if the truck was made of marshmallows and sunshine. He’d been single for so long now, hadn’t been laid in…wow, you could almost count it in years and not months, pretty soon. Not since Cody had…
Oh fuck that! He thought with a smile, banishing the bad memory. If anyone could lay the memory of the Worst Boyfriend Ever to rest, Matt would be the one to do it, Peter would bet on it. Yeah, but he’d have to be the Best Sex Ever too, wouldn’t he, a little voice said inside him, if he was gonna make you forget that part about Cody.
Still. Some part of him, some part that hadn’t been entirely beat down, wanted to believe. Wanted to live this fantasy as if it was real, if only until Friday night, when it would fall apart. Just let me have a few days, thinking about that face, that smile…
He stopped in a deli to pick up a sandwich before grabbing a cab back to work. The paper’s headline screamed at him from its eye level perch. JACKPOT RIOT! Twelve injured in melee over empty machine!
He’d seen the story on NY1 – the Quadrillions lottery jackpot had reached $700 million, and a ticket machine at a bodega in Queens had run out of paper, with nearly a hundred people left in line a half hour before the drawing. He shook his head, thinking about it – getting your arm broken because you couldn’t throw your money away fast enough.
“And nobody won last night anyway,” the guy behind the counter said. “Seven hundred million now. Biggest jackpot ever.”
“In the US,” his co-worker said, wrapping up Peter’s sandwich. “Bigger ones in Europe before.”
“But those get split by design.” Everyone was suddenly an expert on lottery history these days. “This could all go to one guy.” He held Peter’s change out. “Could be your lucky day.”
Peter laughed. It was his lucky day, wasn’t it. He’d met Matt, had at least had a moment of flirtation for the first time in a long time. Wouldn’t it be just wrong to ignore that?
“Okay, fine. One quick pick.”
“You got it buddy. Good luck.”
“You’ll need it,” the lady behind him grumbled, hands full of tickets with numbers she’d painstakingly chosen personally. “Quick picks don’t win jackpots.”
“We’ll see,” Peter laughed, folding the ticket and stuffing it in the back of his wallet. If he could meet a guy like Matt, and be going on a date with him, just like that? Anything was possible.
Dreeep! went the sound of Jose’s drill. Dreep dreep! responded Lenny’s.
Then all the drills in chorus, dreeep dreep dreep! Then silence. Then six voices all together. “OH YEAH! BONE IN!” Dreep dreep dreep dreep dreep!
Matt bent over laughing, holding his gut. “You sick fuckers.”
“You’re gonna drill that ass, we know it, man,” Jose said, putting his drill down to high-five Ricardo. “You like the man beef, we know that dude, it’s all good.”
Ricardo turned to high five Matt. “Bone in! No meatless Friday for you, man!”
Matt was grinning from ear to ear, but then, that was the state of his face most of the time anymore. And why not? He had good friends, he had a great job, he had his health, a reliable paycheck, a decent apartment in a quiet building, and now, if his luck held, he was gonna spend Friday night deep inside an amazingly hot piece of ass.
Take it slow, he told himself. Don’t jump in.
Fuck that! his cock replied. Dreep dreep!
Matt shook his head and kept walking back to the office. Time to get his focus back. Take a leak, take a break, check your phone, take a little walk, get a sandwich – shit, it’s lunch time! He couldn’t believe how fast the morning had flown by. He got in at 7 and here it was 12:30. No wonder he had to piss.
He took a few deep breaths as he held his dick to piss, trying to relax – it had gotten semi hard in seconds, just from thinking about pulling it out on Friday and sticking it in Peter’s mouth. I hope it’s not too big for him, he thought. Which rarely happened, because who hates a huge cock, right? But it was a man’s job, taking a big dick, he thought, mouth curling out again. Not everyone’s up to it.
But there’d been something about Peter, something that Matt knew when he saw it. Peter was one of those ostensibly mild-looking types, like the actors Edward Norton or Tobey Maguire on first glance – nice boys, you’d think…unless you looked in their eyes, not at their floppy hair and their puppy dog faces. Then you could see the darkness, then you could see “The Perv” as Matt called it. Peter was checking him out hard, scoping his body, and the way his pupils dilated when Matt shook his hand – yep. Perv! Awesome!
He’d been a shy boy, too. Awkward, and with that…folded-in thing guys got sometimes when Matt hit on them, as if retreating from a blow when all he wanted to do was give a caress. And yeah, that got Matt hot, too – the thought of gettin’ his pollen in there, watching the shy flower open up and spread his petals…Fuck! I’m gonna have to beat off three times tonight before I can get to sleep.
And smart, too – that was a lot of the appeal of the shyness, how often it concealed a blazing intellect. It was rare to find someone shy who was stupid; stupid people didn’t think enough to be self-conscious like that. Fuck, he loved a big brain…
Back to work, dammit. He checked his phone, smiled at a text from his friend Chadrick, made his coffee up right and took it back to his bay, his earbuds already back in, the signal to his co-workers, Not Now. In The Zone.
He flipped through the songs on the iPod. He kept his music on a separate device from his phone, didn’t want the distraction of calls or texts while he was In The Zone. Some Bach, he thought. Something precise. Not the cello pieces; those were too warm and soft right now. Something metallic, something to dampen the sexual flames, get his head straight. Harpsichord concertos, he decided.
Bach’s Italian Concerto began to ring out in his ears, the rest of the sounds around him gone, blocked or filtered. He looked blankly, or what would seem like a blank stare, at the engine in front of him, as he started to reassemble the pieces of the puzzle in his mind into the form they’d been in when Peter had shown up.
He used the diagnostic computer for the things you couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, the parts of the car beyond the senses, managed by firmware on circuit boards. But most of what he did was via his senses, when it was time to take the earbuds out, start the car, listen to the engine, hear the music.
Because it was music, and Matt was a conductor, and the parts of the engine were the performers. The designer of the engine was the composer, but it was up to the conductor sometimes to take liberties with the piece, to change something here or there, put his own stamp on it. The car’s performance when he was done with it was his performance. You could blindfold him and rev up four engines in four cars of the exact same make and model and year and he could tell you which one he’d worked on. And sometimes, what work needed doing on the others.
How the other guys could listen to heavy metal was beyond him; how could they hear what the car was saying with all that fuzz and roaring in their ears? How they could they laugh and joke and screw around while they worked…well, different strokes for different folks. They treated him with respect, odd man out but still part of the team, the way a talented but eccentric pitcher is treated on a baseball team, accepted as, maybe expected to be, weirder than the rest, but still one of the guys.
Of course an engine has many parts, and the engine that drove Matt had a little circuit board that was running its own program. A program ignored by the main routine, but which nonetheless was busy planning a Friday night to remember. Almost unconsciously Matt reached over and picked up a pen and wrote bacon on a piece of paper. Because he’d be cooking one of his breakfast specialties for Peter late on a Saturday morning, after a long night of hard fucking…
Then his hands and mind were back in the machine, where they belonged, at least until the next piece of the plan came to him.