Writing Wednesday — Re: Solutions

I used to be a bigger fan of resolutions when I was younger, and I generally kept them, but the older I get the more I try to think of them more as solutions to things that are impeding me in some way. So, last year I managed something pretty amazing: I completed writing two book-length works in one year.

And I shouldn’t have tried.

OF ECHOES BORN - 4

So. Pretty.

Don’t get me wrong, one of those was a collection, Of Echoes Born (and yes, I’m going to post the cover again because Inkspiral is freaking amazingly talented), so really it was like I wrote a novel-and-a-half, but I knew going in that it was maybe pushing my limits. Then we renovated part of the house, my head decided to have a bad year, and…

Yeah. I got them done. That’s fantastic. But the new limit is firmly in place: One novel (the pitch for which I’m working on now, so hopefully it’s accepted); a novella project (without a contractual deadline); and short fiction in between as I can. No overload. Lots of wiggle room. If my head melts down again, there will be breathing space.

Solutions. Not resolutions.

Triad Magic

Speaking of the novel writing part, the next goal is to bring the Triad boys home with Triad Magic. Writing Wednesdays is when I check in with how things are going, and things are going well. I’ve not sent off the official pitch yet, I’m still working on the synopsis, but I’ve more-or-less decided on the blurb, which is this:

The law of three is everything: three vampires for a coterie, three demons for a pack, and three wizards for a coven. Those who travel alone or in pairs are vulnerable to the rest. Luc, Anders, and Curtis—vampire, demon, and wizard—sidestepped tradition and formed a bond that continues to defy those who have ruled for centuries.

When a series of kidnappings target those who can glimpse the future, the powerful do what they’ve always done: close ranks. But for Luc, Anders, and Curtis, the missing include members of their chosen family, and they alone seem willing to risk themselves to seek whoever might be capable of such a feat.

Outwitting an enemy who can seemingly get the drop on the prescient is no easy task. The powerful of Ottawa scramble to take advantage of the chaos, leaving Luc, Anders, and Curtis to find a way to undo a darkness far crueler than anything they’ve faced before.

The triad of blood, soul, and magic is their greatest power.

The future might not care.

Word-count wise, I’m ahead of the goal (that always happens at the beginning) but the more cushion the better. And on the theme of solutions, I’ve packed more wiggle room in there, too.

Faux-Ho-Ho

My other project, which I’m writing without a home and no plan to look for a home until it’s done, is another holiday novella. I loved, loved, loved having Handmade Holidays out there in November/December, and I won’t lie: it was a selfish love. I got to talk about the holidays they way they are for queer me, and it was an actual joy. I don’t think I’ve felt that way about the holidays in a very long time, and I want more of that feeling, so I’m working on a “fake-relationship” holiday story. I’m still going to try and hit some of my key focus points: queerness, chosen family, and making your own way, but this time it’s going to be more about how we sometimes navigate toxic people to keep the people we love in our lives, and maybe there are better ways.

It’ll be different not to do a vignette style story, too: this one is going to happen over the space of a week or so leading up to the holidays and a family wedding, rather than over the course of fifteen years. And Ru (at least) will have a cameo.

Also there’s a really hunky kickboxer-type who agrees to pretend to be a boyfriend over the holidays.

Writing for this project is also more-than-on-track.

Short Stuff

I’m going back to my usual goal of submitting something short once a month for the year, and also trying to remember reprints are a thing. I haven’t submitted anything just yet, but January has barely begun.


Open Calls for Submission

I also try to list off calls for submission I find (and find tempting) every week on Writing Wednesdays, so without further ado:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500 to 5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • A World Unimagined— Left Hand Publishers; 4,000 to 9,000 word count limit. Speculative fiction, deadline: January 21st, 2018.
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k to 120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • MLR Press—Quite a few different themes are open; 10k to 40k word count limit; deadlines vary, but the earliest right now is April 30th, 2018.

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Writing Wednesday – Ideas!

For those playing the home game, I didn’t make it through to the last round of the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction contest, but it ended up feeling as much as a relief as it did a disappointment. I did make an honorable mention for my queer Ganymede re-telling of a Greek myth as a mystery, but it went a bit too far off the mark for some of the judges, who felt it wasn’t traditional a mystery enough. That also didn’t feel like a loss, really: I knew I was taking a risk, and I wanted to still write something the way I like to write, which is to say to add some magic, psychic, or other.

Also? I don’t have to madly scramble to write a flash fiction piece over the weekend, and that’s kind of awesome.

But it did put me in mind for ideas. And wow, do I have about a million ideas. In my notebook of potential “next things,” I ended up scribbling the following:

  • Faux-Ho-Ho (Fake relationship holiday romance).
  • Triad Magic (Third paranormal novel in the series). This is absolutely the next thing I’ll be pitching as a novel to my publisher.
  • Triad Tales (Triad short fiction anthology—and yes, anthology not collection—because I know a few people who I’d love to ask to contribute). This is basically a pipe-dream, but.
  • The Village Series (Novella series, starting with A Little Village Magic, five of them, a wee bit of magic in a contemporary romance, all set in a fictionalized version of the gay village here). I’ve finished two of five thus far, and I want all five to be done before I release.
  • Ringmaker (SF Novella, Earth’s first colony on another world, wormhole gates, a bit of politics, also kissy stuff). This would let me write something closer to hard SF, which I’ve never really done.
  • Plus One (Vague idea for a 1NS novella centred around needing someone for a wedding date). I’m starting to think it could be Kevin needing a date for Ru and Nick’s wedding, actually.
  • That tooth/mafia caper romance story (I tried to write a short story for Anthony that got way too long and needed to be a novella where the guy gets an envelope of teeth in lieu of roses and it goes off the rails from there).
  • OF ECHOES BORN - 4Silver & Blue (Ian simon novella, a psychic mystery set on the train from BC to Ontario). With Ian about to appear in three novellas in Of Echoes Born, I keep thinking about him.
  • Flame (sequel to Light; a pyrokinetic starts torching bigots). Also? Pregnant Karen.
  • Key (YA, a boy finds a key that lets him use any door to enter a strange home that seems to have rooms in all sorts of different time periods). This is a re-write of a three day novel writing contest I did.
  • Love by the Book (Paranormal rom-com, a guy ends up with one of the books from the library of Alexandria and it turns out reading it can change reality. So far he’s figured out how to make things cerulean blue).
  • Demon Interruptus (The first in a demon-hunter paranormal series, Arcana Major, with tarot-card based witches fighting demons; think Charmed only really gay). The first one of this series is all but written. I should get on that.
  • Third’s a Charm (Erotica collection of paranormal/magical/psychic threesomes, because apparently I write/wrote a bunch of those).
  • A reunion themed romance (where a guy goes to his high school reunion a great success, a date on his arm, and though money has changed hands, it’s not what you think).
  • Served Cold (a proximity romance between a guy dodging some legal trouble for all the right reasons and the man who is hired to serve him with papers).
  • LeFou (A queer retelling of Beauty and the Beast).
  • Oh! A recent online chat had a bunch of us discussing some sort of geek gamer nerd novella romance series that begins with the setting up of a tabletop board game shop/cafe, and then moves through all sorts of geeky games.

Also, more Fuca stories, a novella with Jace and Matt from the Triad series (and maybe another with Mackenzie), and and and and and…

Yeah. Ideas. You gotta love ’em.


Open Calls for Submission

Writing Wednesdays are supposed to be the days I track open calls for submission I’m keeping an eye on, as well as keeping honest with how the year in submitting things for publication myself has gone.

Previously this year: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), with 1 acceptance (new) and three acceptances (three reprints); in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April saw 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that). July: 1 submission (1 new). August: 1 submission (1 new). September and October: 2 submissions (2 new), and 1 acceptance. November: 1 submission (1 new). December has been 2 submissions (1 new, 1 reprint) and 1 acceptance. So, I officially managed to submit something at least twelve times this year, but not quite at once-a-month pace near the end there.

And now, the open calls:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500-5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k-120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • MLR Press—Quite a few different themes are open; 10k to 40k word count limit; deadlines vary, but the earliest right now is April 30th, 2018.

Writing Wednesday – The Most Wonderful Update of the Year

Okay, it’s possible I’m overstating, but here’s the thing: as of this week, both Of Echoes Born (which now exists as a pre-order!) and Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks are drafted. They’re off in the wheels of publishing, awaiting the next steps, and that means both my major deadline projects are done.

OF ECHOES BORN - 4

Now available for preorder!

So, scratch that, it is totally not overstating that this is the most wonderful time of the year.

What Next?

With both major deadline projects off my plate, and with the holiday novella released, I’m kind of in a lovely bubble of not having something with a due date to work on at the moment. I mean, there are the open calls for submission (which are below, as usual) and I’m still considering some of those, but honestly? I might just take December to percolate.

If I had to answer this moment? I believe I’m going to pitch Triad Magic to my publisher, and I’m going to work on my village novella series (those poor things have been beyond back-burner for so long) and I’m also going to attempt another holiday novella for next year. Releasing Handmade Holidays was a lot of freaking fun, and an idea occurred to me with a fake relationship trope, and… well, we’ll see what happens.


Open Calls for Submission

On Writing Wednesdays I also track open calls for submission I’m keeping an eye on, as well as keeping honest how I’ve done thus far for the year in submitting things for publication myself.

Previously this year: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), with 1 acceptance (new) and three acceptances (three reprints); in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April saw 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that). July: 1 submission (1 new). August: 1 submission (1 new). September and October: 2 submissions (2 new), and 1 acceptance. November: 1 submission (1 new). December has been 1 submission (1 new). So, I officially managed to submit something at least twelve times this year, but not quite at once-a-month pace near the end there. Also, if I made it through to the last round of the NYCMidnight Flash Fiction contest, I’ve got one more flash fiction piece to write.

And now, the open calls:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500-5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k-120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.
  • Happiness in Numbers—Less than Three Press; Polyamorous LGBTQIA+ anthology, non-erotic polyamorous stories that explore the idea of “Family”; 10k to 20k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.

Friday Flash Fiction – The Next When

The wonderful Elizabeth Lister‘s Friday Flash Fics challenge continues. Today’s picture suited perfectly for a moment that takes place in Ian’s life shortly after the events of one of the stories in my upcoming collection of short fiction, Of Echoes Born, so I decided to flesh it out a bit for the challenge. I have a feeling you’ll see more of the characters from that collection as these challenges continue.


Flash Friday 3

Ian woke early. Three hours ahead as far as time zones were concerned, he had all the joy of watching the sunrise and none of the grogginess. As far as first days on vacation went, it didn’t completely suck. He had a whole week on his own ahead of him.

He eyed the other side of the bed. Empty.

Okay, he had the whole of forever on his own ahead of him.

That hadn’t been the plan. But this morning? He didn’t mind.

That Ian had a lot to look forward to at the end of the week didn’t hurt. Friends. Big decisions. Huge ones.

The kettle whistled. He made a pot of tea, grabbed a hoodie, and settled on the deck of the cabin, waiting. The pale light in the distance gave way over two cups of tea, living up to the website’s promises. The strait blazed with reds, oranges, golds and, eventually, yellows.

He smiled to himself, thinking of colours, and pushed.

There wasn’t much here, but his gaze caught on the edge of the deck, near the steps, and the world fractured where he looked.

A couple appeared. Much later in the day, and unless he was mistaken, a warmer time of year. He couldn’t quite pinpoint the when, but the two were in their seventies or so, holding hands as they stepped down, the man pausing at each step for the woman to catch up.

Ian rose, holding on to the sight. He followed them down gravel path, and then along the road itself. They were in no hurry. Twice the man pointed at something. The woman would look, often smiling at him after, nodding, and touching his arm.

A bird? A flower?

Ian smiled, content to never know.

They held hands again, walking on.

Ian followed, sliding his hands into his hoodie pocket, feeling the rising sun start to nibble some of the chill from the air. A light rain began to fall—not touching the older couple—and Ian pulled up his hood.

It was getting easier. He shouldn’t be surprised, of course. Not that long ago, it had been second nature to look the way he could look. The colours had never gone, the auras around people, those he couldn’t shut out, but this other thing, this way to see into another when

He’d closed that door.

The couple paused again. Ian almost glanced where the man pointed, but there’d be nothing there. Not in the now.

He’d come a long way down the road with them. A sign ahead noted a curve.

Ian stood still, watching the couple once they started walking again, and only letting go of the vision once they slipped around the bend, a little piece of a sunny when.

The fractures in the air mended.

Even he couldn’t see around corners.

It made him smile.

Ian turned, and started back for the cabin. Breakfast. And then…

Then whatever happened after would happen.

 

Writing Wednesday – Prose and Cons (and Echoes)

Hello again! Yes, I’ve been very remiss lately on the blogging front, but in my defence, uh… Actually, I have none. I was working my butt off to hit some deadlines and anything that could go did go, and this was one of them.

That said, the fallout of said working included Can*Con being a blast, getting my first ever short story collection finished on time and delivered to the publisher, and I even managed to submit a few things throughout the time I’ve been offline, too. So, huzzahs all around.

Speaking of Prose, you can now see a particular listing for Of Echoes Born at the Bold Strokes Books website, which, let me be clear, gives me so much joy I cannot tell you. Twelve stories, half of them new, three of them almost novella length, basically, that book is so very full of my favourite things. Check it out. And come June of next year, it can be yours!

Speaking of Cons, Can*Con was great, Naked Heart is next week, and I shall be writing about both when I get back and my final deadline for Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks has passed and I’ve successfully handed it in. There, how’s that for the power of positive thinking? Put that confidence in a bubble and release it to the universe or whatever. Poof.

Now, Writing Wednesdays are supposed to be about me keeping myself honest about my writing and hitting deadlines and submitting things, so here we go…


Of Echoes Born

OF ECHOES BORN - 4

So. Pretty.

Done! Well, as done as done can be with a draft handed in to the publisher. Now I await edits, and oh wow did it feel good to do that. I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy Ian, Dawn, Bao, Danya, Michel, André, and all the rest of the characters that wander my noggin and were kind enough to let me let them out onto the page.

And, as I said above, it’s now listed on the Bold Strokes Books website, so if you wanted to pre-order it, you can make that happen right over here, where you can also see the amazing cover done by Inkspiral. You can also see that cover right here because I love it so much it needs to be seen everywhere, all the time.

That guy on the cover is the aforementioned Ian, Ian Simon (or Christian Simon, as he was named at birth), and given the shattering that’s happening all around him, that means he’s currently seeing the future. Or the past.

Did I mention I love that cover?


Exit Plans for Teenage Freaks

I did a thing I’ve never done before, and asked for an extension on a deadline. It’s funny, but I had myself more worked up about this than anyone else, and I gave enough notice that I hoped it would be fine and the result was an amused response from my publisher telling me to take a freaking breath and it would all be fine. So, yeah.

The end result of releasing that stress and pressure is I’ve got about 5k words left to go, some re-organizing of the plotline and smoothing out some of the issues that will cause, and almost no stress.

I cannot stress this enough, but my takeaway here was this: communicate with your publisher, and as early as you can, when things aren’t working right. I know I’m going to make this the best I can now that I have that extra breathing space, and even better? There was no actual delay to anyone’s schedule. Publishers aren’t monsters. Everyone knows everyone is a human being, and holy crap was it worth it not to drive myself mental.


Open Calls for Submission

Okay, so the other thing I do with Writing Wednesdays is keep track of open calls for submission I’m keeping an eye on, as well as track how I’ve done thus far for the year in submitting things for publication myself.

On the latter front? Previously this year thus far: January was: 6 submissions (4 reprints, 2 new), 1 acceptance; in February was bare minimum: 1 submission (1 new); March brought 1 rejection, and 1 submission (new); April saw 1 submission (new) and 1 acceptance; May: 1 submission (new), 1 acceptance. June: BUZZ! (Let’s not talk about that). July: 1 submission (1 new). August: 1 submission (1 new). September and October: While I was more or less offline here, I did manage 2 submissions (2 new), and I had 1 acceptance, but all that pretty much happened in October. My goal is to average one a month, and I’m still ahead of that, but only because I started the year off with a bang. Still, it counts.

And now, the open calls:

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul—Various titles, various themes, various deadlines, 1,200 word count limit.
  • Mischief Corner Books—Open to submissions for various themes, including Legendary Love, Everyday Heroes, Cowboys and Space; these are open rolling calls, so no deadline.
  • NineStar Press—Open to submissions for various length prose, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy and horror; Click “Currently Seeking” header for details; word count limit variable.
  • Spectrum Lit—This is an ongoing patreon flash fic provider, 1,500 hard word count limit; LGBTQ+ #ownvoice only; ongoing call.
  • Apex Magazine—Super-short flash fiction, theme of “Valentine’s Day Invasion.” 250 hard word count limit; deadline November 30th, 2017.
  • Quantum Shift—Annual celebration of quantum-inspired call for flash fiction; 1000 word count limit; deadline December 1st, 2017.
  • Best Gay Erotica for the Year, Volume 4—Cleis Press; 2,500-5,000 word count limit. Original stories strongly preferred; deadline January 5th, 2018 (but the earlier the better).
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to F*** Them—Circlet Press; Erotic short stories with magical beasts and shapeshifter tropes; 3,000 to 7,000 word count limit; deadline February 1st, 2018.
  • Lost—NineStar Press. LGBTQIA+ romantic pairing. Both HEA and HFN are acceptable, Click “Lost” header for the theme. 30k-120k word count limit; deadline April 30th, 2018.

Friday Flash Fiction — Morning After, After Mourning

The wonderful Elizabeth Lister‘s Friday Flash Fiction challenges continue. I missed last week, but I’m back for the third, with this lovely piece of inspiration, below. These involve characters you’ll meet in my upcoming collection of short fiction, Of Echoes Born, from Bold Strokes Books. I went a bit over word count this week, but come on. Look at that guy.


Flash Friday 3

“I have tea.” Michel held up two cups.

Clive barely moved his head, cracking a small embarrassed smile. “You’re a saint.”

Michel put one on the bedside table, turning to go.

“Wait,” Clive said.

Michel stopped.

“Thank you.”

“It’s just tea,” Michel said.

Clive shook his head. He stretched in the bed, and Michel worked hard to keep his eyes on Clive’s face. Shirtless, with the covers so low Michel was afraid to find out what else Clive shucked overnight, the bartender had an actual six-pack. The tattoo Michel had only glipsed fully revealed itself, crossing Clive’s left arm and shoulder, and some of his chest.

Michel felt tiny.

“Not for the tea.” Clive’s grin was somewhere between sleepy and amused. “For stuff I’m only vaguely remembering from last night.”

“Ah.” Michel’s face burned.

Clive shifted—eye contact, eye contact! He picked up the paper cup, taking a generous swallow.

“From NiceTeas?”

“One of Ivan’s ‘recovery’ blends.” Michel nodded.

“I’m okay,” Clive said. “No hangover.”

“That’s so unfair,” Clive said. “I had a headache like you wouldn’t believe, and I only had three drinks.”

“Did I throw my shirt at you?”

“Uh. Not… I mean, yeah, but…” The question tripped up Michel’s tongue. “Yes. It was raining after the wake…” He sipped. Maybe ‘recovery’ worked on brains.

“So you took me home to have your way with me?” With Clive’s hair tousled like that, the smile, and his beard, he was pretty much the sexiest guy ever, and…

Wait. What?

“No!” Michel said. “Of course not. You were a bit…”

“I was a lot.”

“Okay, yes. A lot drunk. My place was close. I couldn’t use my umbrella and help you walk—you’re heavy—and…”

“Breathe, Michel.”

Michel breathed. “Sorry.”

Clive looked around. “I don’t remember you joining me.”

“I slept on the couch.”

Clive’s eyebrow rose. “I fell all over you, you carried me home, I threw my clothes at you—”

“Because they were wet and I have a dryer.”

“—and you gave me your bed?”

Michel nodded.

“And now you get me tea. How’d you know I liked tea?”

“You said you only drank tea when Danya offered coffee after the wake.”

Clive lifted himself into a seated position. Muscles played along his chest and stomach. Michel stared into Clive’s eyes with nothing but prayer and willpower.

“I don’t normally get drunk.”

“You said that, too.” Michel couldn’t help but smile.

“Are you teasing? Is this you teasing?”

“Little bit.” Michel blushed. “It’s okay. You and Hans were close.”

“Like a second father. Or first, honestly, given what mine was like.” Clive took a deep breath. Michel tried not to watch what that did to his chest, and failed.

“Hans was an amazing man. If not for him, I’d never have opened the gallery.”

“Really?” Clive said. “Wait. We talked about that last night.”

Michel nodded, sipping.

“And you called me a hottie?”

Michel choked. He recovered after a moment, and put his cup down. “So, I don’t normally drink, either…”

Clive patted the empty space beside him. “C’mere. It’s Sunday; it’s raining. Relax. Drink tea. Tell me your Hans stories. And maybe a few more confessions. Sober ones.”

Michel stared for two long seconds before he stripped off his shirt, and threw it.

Clive caught it with a grin.