WIPpet Wednesday: That Old-Time Religion

I nearly forgot about this. Good thing it’s still early in the day (not even 9:30am EST).  I’m still posting bits from this novel because I haven’t gotten my last chapter back from my beta readers yet, and there’s a ton of work to do getting this thing whipped into shape once it goes to the second round of readers.  Really, though, I’m just not ready to let it go.  Anyone else find that your characters become like extended family?  We’ve been together for so long that I’m reluctant to end that relationship.

Anyway, today you get 12 lines.  And my math is cool!  Today is the 12th, but if you add all the digits in today’s date, you get…12!  (Hey, I married a math teacher; what do you expect?)

Warnings for swearing.  When he’s not working, Phin’s got a mouth on him.  I think it’s in rebellion against his snooty upbringing.

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By pham xuan nghi, via Wikimedia Commons

 

“You brought me to a fucking church?”

“You may wish to filter your language a little.” Alex looked sideways at Phin. “This is where I go on Sunday mornings.” He offered no further explanation. He got out of the car and stood next to it.

“You could’ve warned me. What if I were Jewish or something?”

“I know you’re not.”

With a sigh, Phin climbed out of the car. He didn’t want to be rude, but he didn’t want to go in, either. “I’m not really the church type.”

Alex shrugged. “You don’t have to come in.” He started walking.

Another challenge. Phin frowned and said, “No, I’ll go.” He followed Alex toward the building and quickly caught up. “God. I haven’t been to church in—what, fifteen years?”

“I promise, we don’t bite.” Alex tilted his head to the side. “You used to go to church?”

“My parents are Presbyterians, yeah.” Not that it made a goddamn bit of difference in their lives. “You’re Catholic?”

With a chuckle, Alex replied, “You’re joking, right? No. This is a Lutheran church.”

“Ah. Catholic lite.”

Alex swatted his arm. “Jerk.”

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Wonder what Phin will think of his religious experience.  For the record, I do not think Lutherans are “Catholic lite.”  I happen to be Lutheran, and I’ve heard it before.  Repeatedly.  If you’re going to say something stupid to me, be warned it may appear in a future story. *evil grin*

As always, go here to read the other WIPpet entries and add your own!

WIPpet Wednesday: Girl Talk

Happy Wednsday, everyone!  I’m linking up with another great WIPpet.  If you’d like to play along, just click this link or visit our host, K. L. Schwengel.

Speaking of that, I got to do a fun WIPpeteer interview! You can read it here.

In other exciting news, my penultimate (ok! I admit it! I like that word!) chapter is with my beta readers now.  Once I get the last chapter back, I have a few more beta readers lined up for round two, and then I get to decide what to do with it (publish it; duh).  I’m going to admit my complete, massive fear here because I’ve never published a whole book before.  Being able to say (in a very deep voice), “Why, yes, I am a published author” is a real possibility now.  **INSERT MASSIVE FREAK-OUT HERE**

Ahem.  On to my excerpt.  When we last left Phin, he was in the company of Gia on a whirlwind tour of the town.  Just what did those two kids get up to, you may be wondering.  Well, I’m not going to spell it out for you.  Just read the two lines (for the first WIPpet of the 2nd month) of dialogue between Dani and Gia and let your imagination fill in the rest.

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“We came back here and messed around a little while we watched a movie. Oh, my god, Dani, guys my age are so selfish, but he kept asking if I liked what he was doing. Seriously, dudes need lessons from Phin on how to give good—”

“Gia!” Dani squeaked. She felt herself flush. “Stop. Too much information.”

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Sounds like they had a, um, nice time there.  See you all next week!

Lilacs

The whole park smells wonderful. I love the scent of lilacs. The timing is perfect this year; there are thousands of them in bloom.

I walk along the path to the greenhouse. I always like to see what’s growing in there. Lost in the pleasure of the warm spring air and the beauty of life bursting before me, I almost run into the people coming the other way.

“Oh, excuse me,” I say.

But as I go to pass them, I get a good look at one of the men. He sees me too, and his face morphs into a puzzled expression. “I’m sorry,” he says, hesitation tugging at his voice, “but you look familiar.”

I study him for a moment, and then it registers. “Oh my god. Jay Weingart? It’s me, Shel Harrison.”

He smiles. “How long has it been? More than ten years.”

Thirteen, I want to say. Nearly thirteen years since you left.

“You look really…different,” Jay comments.

I’m sure that I do. My hair is much longer, for one thing, and I wear makeup now. I’ve given up hiding my body under overly large t-shirts with rock band logos. I do a lot of things I never would have done back then, including having uncomfortable run-ins with old boyfriends.

There are three other people with him. The girl with honey brown hair and eyes the color of the ocean in winter can’t be anyone else but his daughter. Her face is sweet and honest. She smiles shyly. The other man looks familiar, but I can’t place him. Actually, he resembles no one so much as Mr. Clean. He is entirely bald, although it looks more like he shaves his head that way to hide his receding hairline. He’s compact and muscular. I can see a tattoo peeking out of his shirt sleeve, but I can’t tell what it is. There’s also a slender black-haired girl who stands to the side as though she would prefer not to be noticed.

“I don’t think you’ve ever met my daughter, Alison,” Jay’s saying. He puts his hand on the brown-haired girl’s shoulder, pressing down slightly in affection. “This is Bill.” He gestures to the other man without giving any further context for This-Is-Bill. He doesn’t tell me the black-haired girl’s name.

I feel the lump pressing on my throat. Forcing a smile, I nod politely. I swallow, hard. “Nice to meet you,” I say.

“Likewise,” he says, extending a hand.  He arches an eyebrow, and I can tell he knows—or thinks he knows—something about me.

“Bill graduated a couple years ahead of us. I don’t know if you remember him.”

Ah, now the familiarity made sense. But he’d had hair back then. I think I make a non-committal sort of noise.

“How’s Julie?” I ask.

Jay shrugs casually. “Fine, I suppose.”

“You suppose?” I glance at Jay’s wedding band.

He notices. “We’ve been divorced for a long time. Julie lives in California. I haven’t seen her in years.”

Ah, remarried, then. I desperately want to get out of this awkward conversation. I make some excuse about needing to be on my way. Jay cheerfully waves over his shoulder as the three of them continue on the path.

I no longer feel much like looking in the greenhouse. My insides feel stretched. I wander through the park, trying not to think, without much success.

He acted as if nothing had ever happened. As if we were never more than old classmates. As if he didn’t remember all those days spent fooling around in his bedroom after school when his parents were still at work. As if it was insignificant making each other feel good and pretending, just for a little while, that we were free.

Thirteen years since he’d told me Julie was pregnant. He said he planned to “do the right thing” and marry her. Back then, I thought he was cheating on me with her. It turned out I was his dirty little secret. And now where is she? He’s married to someone else. Someone who should have been me but never could have been.

I was so sure I was over him before today. But as I walk, my hands deep in my pockets, I think maybe I’m not. Except that I’m not in love with him; I’m only in love with the memory of us. But why, oh why, can’t I get those eyes out of my mind?

I stop along the path to listen to a group of musicians. They’re playing a familiar folk song, one I like. Only one other person is listening—an old man sitting on the bench across the path from them.

There are two women and two men. One of the women is playing the violin. She has the longest hair I’ve ever seen; it’s down past her hips, hanging in dark waves that ripple as she fiddles. The other woman plays hand drums and the two men are playing guitar and some kind of pipes.

I hum the tune softly, closing my eyes. My parents used to bring me to some music festival when I was a kid. There would be all these people, playing and singing, making music together. We would camp there for most of a week. The park musicians are playing one of my mother’s favorites.

The song ends. I open my eyes to find the musicians smiling at me. The guitar player catches my eye and winks. I feel my face heating up.

“You sing?” he asks.

“I used to,” I admit. I wasn’t bad. I don’t know why I gave it up. Real life, I suppose.

He mentions a song. “You know that one?”

“Yeah, my parents used to sing that one all the time,” I say.

“Well, come on then, we could use a voice,” Guitar Guy says.

Feeling self-conscious, I join them. Guitar Guy is still watching me, his face unreadable. I can feel my heart rate increasing.

He tilts his head to the side and gives me a smirk. “What’s your name?”

“Shel. Shel Harrison.”

“Well, Shel Shel Harrison, you ready?”

And suddenly, I think maybe I am.

WIPpet Wednesday: To Ask a Question

It’s Wednesday again, and you know what that means!  Time for another little bit of my novel and an update on my progress.  If you want to join in the fun, link up here or pop over to K. L. Schwengel’s site and find the linky there.

I’m pretty excited because this novel has been in beta forever and the first draft is finally almost done!  There’s a chapter out now and three more to go.  Meanwhile, I’m trying to get back to writing short/flash fiction for this blog, and I have an old NaNoWriMo novel that I can play around with to improve its quality.  I’m also working my way through my 2014 reading list–my goal is to read only novels that are from authors I’ve never read before.  I have two in my queue and one more I want to buy, two of which are self-published.  I’m aiming for a dozen new books this year…we’ll see how that goes!  Obviously, I’m looking for 9 more, so if you have a novel out and you want to plug it, feel free to do so in the comments.

Now for my WIP.  When we last left Phin, he was about to get down with Gia and the old folks.  Today, he seems to have other ideas about what he and Gia might do for some…er…extracurricular fun.  That is, if he isn’t already smitten with someone else (or maybe even if he is).  My WIPpet math: (29-1)/14=2, so 2 paragraphs from the next section.

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He would take her home and walk her to her door, where she might coyly suggest he come in for a bit. They would pretend to watch a movie while they made out on her couch. They wouldn’t have sex; she wouldn’t want to, and he wouldn’t pressure her. But she wouldn’t turn him down if he offered her pleasure with his hands and his mouth. She might be willing to return the favor. The thought made him stir a little; it had been too long since he’d enjoyed mutual stimulation. When they were through, they would finish the movie, half watching, leaning against each other. In the quiet place after orgasm, if he asked the right questions and offered her just enough to draw it out, he might be able to find out who knew about his father’s company and how much information they had.

They reached the bottom of the hill and Gia turned to him expectantly. All it would take was a few simple words, but they stuck in Phin’s throat. Even studying her lovely face and her open, warm hazel eyes, he was torn. He knew that she understood this wasn’t permanent—just two people, crossing paths. He also knew that it was just a job. But something nagged a little; something made him hesitate. For the first time, he wasn’t sure he wanted to resort to his old methods. A memory of the night before, of Alex offering a tentative genuine smile, came unbidden. He didn’t want to entertain thoughts about what it would take to court Alex’s trust the way he had already started to with the women because if he did, he was afraid he might want it to mean more than a business transaction. Heading down that path was far too painful.

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And there you have it.  That’s certainly one way to get information out of someone.  Hey, I never said Phin was the most scrupulous person.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Taboo, Part 4

This is the final part of my series Taboo, based on this cartoonYou can go back and read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you haven’t already seen them.

Warning: Both the cartoon and the stories are NSFW.

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Moira arranged and rearranged everything in the bedroom to make it just so. She still wasn’t comfortable experimenting with new things, but for her own sanity she needed to try. Freeing herself from a lifetime of expectations wasn’t easy. Fortunately, Jeff was patient with her. He understood why it was important.

When Jeff arrived home after a late meeting, Moira thought she was ready. They both needed to unwind after a long day. The kids were all in bed, and they had time to themselves. Moira led Jeff to their room.

“I have a surprise for you,” she said.

He looked at the bed warily. It was no wonder; Moira’s “surprises” were notorious. There didn’t seem to be anything amiss, so he relaxed. “What is it?”

“Well, remember what a disaster it was when I tried to follow all those rules in the marriage and sex book?” She flushed at the memory.

“How could I forget?”

“I thought we could try something different.” She sat down on the bed and patted the space next to her.

Jeff joined her on the bed. “Okay. Is it another book? I mean, there are some good ones out there.”

“Nope.” Moira reached around behind her and took out a long, slender box. “Here.”

“Uh…what is it?”

“A game.” She lowered her voice. “A sex game.”

“Geez, Moira. It’s not a dirty word, you know. And I can see it’s a sex game, but that doesn’t tell me much.”

“Let’s open it and find out.”

She pulled the lid off the box and set the contents on the bed one item at a time. Jeff picked up the timer and turned it over in his hands. “I have no idea why anyone would need a timer in a sex game,” he remarked.

“I don’t know either.” Moira made a face when she held up the buzzer. “I wonder if it’s like that game where you have words you can’t say. Do you buzz your partner when you don’t want to do some sex thing?”

“Who knows?” Jeff opened the deck of cards and rifled through it. “Looks like I’d be using the buzzer a lot, then. I probably wouldn’t do half of what’s in here.” His eyes widened at one of the cards. “How do people even do that?”

Moira peered over his shoulder. “No idea. Just skip that one, then.” She pointed to the next one in the deck. “Oh, what about that? It’s different, but not in a bad way.” She blushed. “I wouldn’t mind trying it. I mean, if you’re okay with that.”

“Sure,” Jeff replied. “Just give me a few minutes to get comfortable, okay?” He stood up and bent down to kiss Moira on the top of her head.

A short time later, they lay in bed together, the game pieces on the bedside table. Jeff reached for Moira and they spent a long time kissing and simply enjoying reconnecting after a long day. Soon, they moved together, heat and desire building between them. They shifted so that they lay together differently, experimenting with their position. Just as they found a rhythm, an angry buzzing startled them both, and they flew apart.

They lay on their backs, panting—unfortunately, it was out of fear rather than a more pleasant sensation. Eventually, Moira looked around. She spotted the buzzer at the foot of the bed and wondered how it had ended up there.

“That thing scared the living daylights out of me,” she said.

“Uh-huh,” Jeff agreed, still too breathless to speak.

“I guess I kicked it or something.” She rolled onto her side and put her arm across Jeff’s middle. “I hope you didn’t think I wasn’t enjoying what we were doing.”

“No, no. I figured it was an accident.” He kissed her.

One kiss led to another, and in no time they were ready to try again. As before, they changed position and moved together, both enjoying the feel of the new angle until—

Buzzzzz.

This time, Jeff actually yelled.

Moira grabbed the buzzer, which had somehow worked its way up the bed until it sat right next to them. She gave it a little whack, and it buzzed feebly.

“There is definitely something wrong with that buzzer,” Jeff muttered. He picked the box up off the floor and put the buzzer in it then swept the rest of the game pieces off the bedside table into the box. He held it in his hands for a moment. “Where did you say this came from?”

“A friend of mine went to that conference a week ago or so and brought some back. Free samples or something.”

Jeff turned the box over and examined it. He burst out laughing. “Well, that explains it.” He showed Moira.

“Who are these people?” she asked.

“They do a lot of this stuff. Must have something to do with that abstinence app they put out last year. Something tells me this isn’t your typical sex game.” He set the box on the floor and gave it a good shove so he wouldn’t trip on it if he got up in the dark.

Moira sighed. “I’m sorry. I seem to be zero for two here on finding anything to spice up our sex lives.” She flopped back against the pillows.

Jeff lay back down and put his arms around her. “If you really want a book, I probably still have a copy of The Joy of Sex somewhere. But I’m not sure we need it, Moira. I like being with you. I don’t care if we do anything different or not. I know it’s important to you—and heck, I’ve certainly benefited. Honestly, though, I’m not feeling like anything is missing.” He kissed her.

Moira smiled against his lips. “I liked what we were doing before that buzzer so rudely interrupted us. Could we start with that?”

“Absolutely.”

With that, they spent the rest of the evening making love and pointedly ignoring the pitiful sobs of the devastated game buzzer, alone and neglected in the corner.

WIPpet Wednesday: Dance Fever

Hooray!  It’s Wednesday again, and you all get a BONUS!  In addition to today’s installment of WIPpet, you can also read the first 3 parts of my new short story series, Taboo (also linked at the right under Story Series).  Warning: The series features lots of implied sex, and not all of it is your typical married missionary position type (which is kind of the point of the series anyway).

Anyhow, today is the 22nd, so you get 4 lines (2+2) of the next chapter.  Enjoy!

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Léon Bazille Perrault [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It took several minutes to find Gia’s dance class, but when Phin finally located it and peered through the window in the door, he had to laugh; he understood why Alex had poked fun at her. He had no idea what exactly she and her class were doing, but somehow, it involved three elderly women and two elderly men hopping around to the beat of something vaguely techno-punk. Whatever it was, it didn’t look like any traditional form of dance he had ever seen. He watched for another minute or two until the song ended then knocked on the door.

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And there you have it!  I can’t decide if I feel sorry for Phin getting sucked into so many odd things or whether I think he kind of deserves it.  You be the judge.  Happy writing, everyone!

Taboo, Part 3

This is part three in a series based on David Hayward’s cartoonIf you missed them, here are Part 1 and Part 2.

Warning: The cartoon and the posts are NSFW.

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The movie ended, but Claire and Lindsay missed it because they were occupied with other pursuits. The sudden silence distracted Lindsay momentarily, and she reached around Claire for the remote. Claire stretched.

“Maybe we should move this upstairs,” she suggested.

“Sure.”

They padded up to their bedroom, and Claire flopped on the bed. She was tired, but not so tired that she couldn’t admire how graceful Lindsay was. She smiled. “How do you still look gorgeous at this hour? I’m positively frumpy by five o’clock.”

Lindsay smirked. “That’s my secret. I’ll never tell.” She stripped down to her underwear and slid into bed next to Claire.

Remembering something, Claire sat up. “I almost forgot. If it’s not too late, want to check out what I got?”

“That depends. What is it?”

“A game.” Claire giggled then pitched her voice low. “For lovers.”

Lindsay laughed. “Cheesy. And do we really need it?”

“No, of course we don’t need it. It just looked like fun. I’ll show you.” She snatched the box off her nightstand and set it in the middle of the bed.

Eying the box warily, Lindsay said, “It looks like something out of the fifties. That illustration is weird. Are you sure there’s anything in here we can use? It looks kinda aimed at, you know, straight couples.”

“It says right here that there’s something for every couple,” Claire pointed out. “They probably have different stuff inside. Let’s open it and find out.”

Lindsay sighed. “Fine.”

Claire opened the box and they pulled out the contents. Dropping the timer on the bed, Claire tore the plastic wrap off the cards. Lindsay held up the buzzer and arched an eyebrow at Claire.

“Why would anyone need a buzzer for a sex game? Is it that kinky that you use it instead of a safe word?”

Claire shrugged. “Well, fake BDSM is popular these days. I guess that’s for people who want to pretend to play it rough.” She drew a card out of the deck. “Huh. Well, here’s one.” She passed it to Lindsay.

“I’m not sure we could do that.” She turned the card upside down. “Is that even physically possible?” She put the card back and took a different one. “We could try this, I suppose.”

Meanwhile, Claire was sifting through the rest of the deck. “Seems you were right. I mean, some stuff works for pretty much anyone, but a lot of this is pretty bland het stuff. What a bizarre game. I have an idea—let’s do the one you picked out but spice it up a little.” She grinned wickedly at Lindsay.

Before long, they were thoroughly enjoying themselves, experimenting with variations on the card they had chosen. Just as Lindsay maneuvered to change their position, the loudest buzzing she’d ever heard startled her. She knocked into Claire, causing them both to collapse onto the bed in a heap of limbs.

“Ow!” Claire complained. “What the heck was that?”

“Stupid buzzer from the game. Must be something wrong with it.” Lindsay frowned.

“Strange. Well, give me a minute to calm down from my heart attack, and we can pick up where we left off.” Claire adjusted so she wasn’t crushing Lindsay anymore and they wrapped their arms around each other.

They kissed lightly and resumed their lovemaking. Lindsay trailed a path downward from Claire’s lips, moving lower and lower—

Buzzzzz.

“Argh! Damn it. I am going to shut that thing up if it’s the last thing I do,” Lindsay declared. She grabbed the buzzer and made to hurl it across the room.

“Wait!” Claire reached out her hand to stop Lindsay. “Just stick it back in the box. If we can’t use this thing, maybe someone else will want it.” She sighed. “At least it was free.”

Lindsay huffed. “Fine.” She tossed the buzzer into the box along with the cards and the timer. “Worthless piece of crap. I’m glad you didn’t pay money for it. Actually, where did you get it?”

“A woman I know said she got it at church. Someone apparently brought a bunch of these back from some conference.”

“A conference for extremely uptight people, obviously. Never mind. We don’t really need it.”

“No,” Claire agreed, “we don’t.” She set the box aside and reflected that at least she was now fully awake to enjoy spending quality time with Lindsay.

They returned their attention to each other, focusing on enjoying their night. As they tumbled into passionate oblivion, they both missed the buzzer’s miserable howls from inside its cardboard prison.