Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: Fortitude Part 35

I wrote this days ago, but was so busy mowing the yard last night I didn't have time to post it before I collapsed in bed! Sorry it's a smidge late, but I hope you'll enjoy this update inspired by the prompt: have a character get a massage.

Fortitude Part 35

“All this activity can’t be good for your shoulder.” Teddy was hugging his arm to his chest since I’d removed the sling to undress him, and I could see he was sore. There were shadows under his eyes that hadn’t been there before, his weary expression aging him. “Let me give you a massage.”

I helped Teddy maneuver until he was flat on his stomach, his arm cushioned comfortably on a down pillow. I climbed onto the bed, straddling his thighs. The long, lean muscles of his back led to a generous posterior I’d be more than willing to massage. My face heated when Teddy opened his eyes, peeking at me.


His back.

I cleared my throat, placing my hands on the small of his back and stroking lightly. “Do you want me to use some cream? I have a jar by the vanity.”

“Just your hands on me is good.” Teddy’s eyes were half-open as he stared at me. I dropped my gaze from his, focusing on my hands instead. I pressed my palms to either side of his spine and slowly pushed upward toward his shoulders, keeping the stroke light. Teddy groaned. “So good.”

After that, my focus remained on ensuring Teddy made as many of those sounds as possible. I rubbed circles on his shoulders and lightly caressed along his spine, soothing the tension away until he was ready for the heavy pressure to work the knots out. Teddy was totally satiated, a look of bliss on his face that I was very pleased to put there.

I had an erection—I was touching his bare skin after all—but neither of us had the energy to be intimate. I stripped to my small clothes, too, and slid into bed beside Teddy. “Goodnight.”


The morning brought another surprise, far more pleasant than our visit to the king for tea. Teddy had turned to face me, and I woke to his hand sliding inside my clothing to touch my rigid length. At first tentative, Teddy grew bold and sure, his hand gliding on the loose skin, each stroke an urgent tug.

“Touch me,” he begged.

How could I resist? I didn’t want to. The early morning light from the window couldn’t reach the bed, casting us in shadow but giving me the outline of his body. I leaned forward and pressed our lips together, caressing him with soft pecks, sucking on his bottom lip. Giving in to the desire to touch, I let my hands wander all over his chest, back, and side, tracing the muscles under the smooth skin. 

“No, touch me here.” He thrust his hips forward, his rhythm stuttering.

I breathed in the warm musk of his skin and the rising scent of the arousal generated between us. It was so good. No longer in the mood to tease, I plunged my hand beneath his small clothes and wrapped my fingers around his slim length.


Awkward at first, we fumbled together to find a rhythm that matched our thrusting hips and unsteady hands, but it was enough. Moments after our lips met again, teeth knocking together so that I tasted the iron tang of blood, I was writhing in Teddy’s hands, shooting my spend in my smalls. He followed suit, leaving warm, sticky trails of his seed in my hand. We stopped stroking, but he hadn’t let me go yet, and I did the same.

“Amazing.” Teddy’s voice was a harsh rasp as he panted. He cleared his throat. “Everything with you is just… good.”

I grunted and nodded, still trying to catch my breath.

Eventually the mess pushed us to get out of bed. Washing up with a cold ewer of water shocked us both the rest of the way awake since we could not ring for a servant with heated bathing water. Thankfully neither of us had much facial hair, so shaving was a quick process, though Teddy did nick the tip of his chin, the mark was small.

“We’re meeting that man at the theater today, right?” Teddy said.

“I assume so, though he did not remain to discuss a time.”

Breakfast was a repeated grilling by my mother that I barely tolerated for the length of time it took to eat our hard-boiled eggs and a few slices of toast with marmalade. She protested our leaving, but Michael had no events planned until another late dinner party, so we were able to make our escape.

It was not surprising that the man was lurking in the shadows of the theater after we finally arrived. Our late start, plus a circuitous route with a few decoy stops and doubling back, ensured it was mid-morning before we got there. If we were being groomed already to have our abilities sucked out of us, there could be anyone watching us.

“We saw the king!” Teddy blurted out.

“Did you?” He wasn’t surprised at all. “Why?”

I would bet a month’s income that this man and his so-called group of rebels were watching us, so I’d no intention of keeping the visit from him, but there was no way he could know what we spoke of while at tea. Good to know where his reach didn’t extend.

“Architecture and the properties of sound,” I said. “Boring stuff, really.”

Teddy raised his eyebrows, glancing at me. I nodded.

“We figured out the cell must be in the king’s palace. I mapped it in my head on the way back.”

No Name rubbed his chin. “Then the machine is definitely there. We knew that. Now we have—”

“A way out,” I said. “Without a key, we can’t get out of the cell. But we might find one to get into the cell. So what we need is a way in and a chance to find the machine.”

“Eventually they’ll bring you in.”

I narrowed my eyes. “No. Are you insane? I won’t wait for them to try and steal our abilities.”


Now check out the other Briefer updates this week:
Briefers Website

Monday, June 22, 2015

A New Short! Picking Up Strays

Did you miss GA's summer anthology? I came up with a short story out of the blue for it, and I hadn't posted it here yet, so today's the day! This is a 3.7k post-apoc story revolving around the theme: Road Trip.

Picking up Strays

My lips cracked and bled, but I stretched them out in a parody of a grin. No one had anything to smile about… which made my expression all the more disturbing.

And likely to work. The bloody tang tantalized me when I licked at the cracks, darting my tongue in and out. I was crouched down, squinting at the dark figure backed by the setting sun.

“What you got?”

I cranked my head to one side, as if the question confused me. I placed my fingers on my lips, touching the wet spit and blood, smearing it back and forth. With my other hand, I scooped up a handful of the dry grit covering the old road. My main weapon sometimes failed, if they were desperate enough to risk contamination by touching me when I was bleeding. Today would be a bad day to be wrong.

The man tried again. “Food? Goods? What’s in the mangy pack?” He eyed it, and I crouched lower.

“Want it?” I patted the strap on my shoulder. My voice was as cracked as my lips, disuse more than damage. The man blocking my path glared at me, but that wasn’t anything new.

“You’ve contaminated it; besides, you probably don’t have anything anyway. You move on now. Go away.” He stomped a foot forward, dust puffing around his foot. “Git.”

Scuttling away, I stopped grinning as soon as the man was out of sight. Contaminated. I snorted. That’s what everyone feared: contamination. Like they were pure—like anyone who lived today hadn’t been changed in some way.

I still wore clothes, could talk, and was still myself.

Even if I didn’t look like me.

Once upon a time, I’d been a vet tech in an exotic animal clinic. I’d had a crappy apartment and a job with parts I enjoyed, even if I didn’t love it. But that had been a whole other life, one that would be as foreign to me now as my current situation would’ve been to me then. Now I had one outfit to wear, one as a spare, a few cans of food the so called “pure” would’ve confiscated from the non-human if he’d known I had them, and the one thing I truly treasured… a map.

My knife stayed strapped along my spine; the sheath blended into the dark spots speckling my back, and my hair covered the handle.

The sand trickled out of my hand, tickling my fingers. The city was big; there would be more enclaves in it than the one I’d just encountered, but the need to scrounge about drove me hard. Maybe I was a freak, nosing around society as it was now, but I had a purpose.

Besides, maybe I’d find what I was looking for here. It might be possible; the map showed me where I had a chance of success. My nose twitched; mice were rustling about the dry grass to my left. I could smell and taste the tiny creatures.

My mouth watered.

There was time for a snack.


One new thing I could do was run. Anyone could run before, but now I could really, really run. For days, if I kept the pace steady. Fast as a car used to go, when there were roads to go on, if I needed a burst of speed to get away. Endurance required energy though.

And a few tiny morsels weren’t going to get me very far into the city.

The empty buildings were shells of their former glory. Just eight years took the world a hundred or more years into the past and humans were unable to halt the reclamation. Mother Nature wouldn’t be denied.

I straddled the line between the feral creatures roaming the wilderness and the ragged humans clinging to the old ways in hopes they’d come back.

Cushy beds and running microwaves, television and turkey dinners on special holidays. When a day where you got to feel full wasn’t something to be considered special. That wasn’t my dream; I’d never fit into that world.

Hell, when I’d been human, I hadn’t fit into that world. I’d been a loner, more at home when I was allowing the snakes and lizards recovering from procedures to climb all over my hands and arms than when I’d been talking to other men.

The concrete was chewed up by who knew what chaos had reigned when the world came to an end. The pads of my fingers and palm were rough, calloused over as I grew used to my new gait, but the bite of metal jutting up from the floor of the building I targeted for my search would tear them up. I stood up from my crouch, rotating my shoulders until the muscles shifted and felt more natural since I wasn’t running on all fours.

The smell grew as I carefully sifted my way through the rubble until I found stairs leading downward. It wasn’t right, but close enough to mean I had to go down. I whined, opening my mouth to catch a good breath and then closing it when the stench hit me, but down I went, creeping silently.

Why’d I even bother?

I knew the scent wasn’t right. The mold and mildew had damaged the pods. None of them were intact. But if there was one stash here, there might be at least one more. I had to get back up in the fading sunlight before I could check the map for a second location.

Climbing up the stairs, I hugged the inner section near the wall. The stairs were iron and had rusted in places. Corrosive rain etched everything as it dripped through and seeped below the surface of the world. I stepped wrong, and the metal beneath me broke away.

I yelped as my foot fell through the hole, throwing me forward. Everything shook and groaned, the shrill screech ringing in my head. The metal grate scored my palms, but the stinging pain was nothing to the torn muscles in my calf. I was lucky the whole staircase hadn’t come down.

Retreat into the woods wasn’t an option, not with how much blood covered me. I tore my leg up even more, trying to get it out of the hole. My blood clotted a lot faster now, but I still needed time to heal. Height was my best bet while I was giving off wounded scents.  

If I was lucky, I’d find my favorite nest. I’d passed an equipment yard not far back, and I could probably make it, even with my leg chewed up. Finally off the stairs, I yanked my shirt off my back. I tore off the sleeves, using my hard black nails to tear the seams. I used the main body to bind my leg and then awkwardly tied the sleeves around my hands. It was a waste of a good shirt, but it wasn’t like the cold was coming soon. I could still wear it sleeveless after I gave it a good cleaning.

Luck was with me; not only was there a lift in the equipment bay, the damn thing still worked and wasn’t corroded beyond use. I patted the metal platform once I extended the scissor lift high into the air. The key went into my backpack, which I stuffed under my head. The metal was uncomfortable; there was no give to it at all.

Once upon a time, I’d had a bed with a real mattress. And a pillow. Sometimes, when I was really lucky, I found one of those, but it just wasn’t practical to carry around something so bulky. Occasionally I tortured myself thinking about sinking into bed every night, safe in a home of my own. That might be what I missed most of all. I’d bet—if I could find someone to bet about a bed—it’d feel like sleeping on a cloud. Or a marshmallow. I’d been sleeping rough for a long time, and the ground was baked hard under the fine layer of grit hiding everything. Even when my bed wasn’t a metal platform, getting comfortable wasn’t something a night’s rest included.

My senses were finely tuned to the darkness, and I woke up twice to scrabbling sounds in the building, but nothing came close to my perch. The early morning light, the sun just shimmering behind the horizon, and the last glimmers of light in the evening were my times of day so I was up early. The squeak of the lift was loud in the silence. I darted away from the building in case it brought any interest; the yard was full of rusted hulks of construction equipment, giving me plenty of places to hide.

Once I found a safe distance, I pulled out my map. The city’s grid was keyed up on the display and my location blinked in the center after I unfolded it to its full length. I swiped a quick mark over the building with the broken pods and then began to zoom the map to the second location.

I could either work my way around the city or go straight through.

Decisions, decisions.

Speed or safety?

Looking around, I chose speed. I’d already been here too long. I wanted to get the pods and get out of the city. I folded up the map and stowed it back in my pack. There was no prey close by, so I pulled out a can. I yanked off the lid and grimaced.


The labels long since missing, I didn’t know what I was going to get when I opened a can. I wasn’t picky, but I didn’t like canned fruit. I’d rather have potted meat; at least that was protein. Still, beggars couldn’t be choosers and the sugar in the syrup would give me a good boost of energy for my run through the city.

I slurped down the fruit, carefully licking at the syrup as it dripped out when all the pieces were gone. I stashed the can in a small hole I’d dug with my foot while I squatted against a wall. No sense in leaving a trail if I picked up a hostile.

This trip I was searching for plants that had been designed to hold water. Scientists had feverishly focused on any study that would help combat the growing drought as the planet dramatically shifted and changed and we’d had confirmation that several cities in this region had labs working together on the problem before society completely collapsed and people began changing.

Hopefully the second location would yield what the compound needed. Pan and I had already passed through two other cities, and I was tired of the traveling with him; he was good at gleaning supplies, but he was a pain in the ass.

Running took all my energy. The blocks between me and my goal sped beneath my feet as I kept up a steady pace, even with the limp from my sore leg and hands. I refused to call it scurrying, but when I sank down to run on all fours, I tried to keep to the shadows. Upright, I had the outline of a man from a distance, which sometimes helped when I was avoiding enclaves of so-called pure humans. I hated it when they threw rocks at me when I was caught running in what was becoming more and more my natural position.

As the light grew brighter, I had to stop and put on a pair of dark goggles. I ducked into a dim alley filled with old trash. Piles of mush were built up here and there, paper and other garbage that had broken down when it still rained and then baked into misshapen piles. I didn’t look at them too closely; who knew what there might be in the mess? My eyes couldn’t handle the full light of the day and the relief was instant when I tied the strap for my lenses behind my head.

I sighed. A small chunk of concrete fell at my feet. I crouched, darting looks all around me. No one threw it… that just left straight up.

“Shit.” Upside down on the wall, a good twenty feet above my head, was another man. Not a pure… a contaminated. “What do you want?” I hissed. The guy crawled down the wall, claws finding tiny little cracks in the concrete. Were his ankles… backwards?

A squirrel. This guy had been touching a squirrel and now he was stuck as one. Could he still talk? He was small, even smaller than me, and he wasn’t wearing any clothes. He was covered in fur and had a long, fluffy tail curled up over his back. How the hell did he climb on the wall without scratching up his junk?

He was close enough to jump on me, and I didn’t like it. I backed away to the opposite side of the alley and pulled out my knife. “Stay back,” I warned. I looked around, making sure we were alone. It didn’t look like I’d been cornered in here. “Why are you following me? I don’t have anything.”

“Following?” His voice was small and squeaky. He dropped to the ground and stayed down, flattened and craning his head to look up at me. I reconsidered my first impression; he wasn’t a boy, but he wasn’t much past a youth in size. How’d he survive on his own, as young as he had to be? “Have?”

“Nothing. I just said that.” Was he mimicking me or asking me?

“Can.” He licked his lips, his gaze locked on my pack.

“Shit,” I cursed again, but it was worth repeating. He’d been following me since I ate and I hadn’t noticed him? He was either very good, or I was being dangerously sloppy.

I definitely didn’t have time to waste; if I missed my rendezvous, I’d be in a bunch of trouble. I rummaged in my bag, which was still open, and grabbed a can. I cracked it open; he might not have enough of his human self to remember how to do it without some help, and then I tossed a can back in the direction I came. It hit the ground with a clank and then began to roll. The squirrel-man became still, eyes darting from me to the rolling can, but his tail—the bushy thing the only part of him not waif-thin—went straight above him and flicked side to side.

“Go get it.”

He blinked.

“Go on. Go get it. Git.” The echo of using the same word the pure used on me wasn’t lost on my sense of irony.

He crawled sideways a few steps, and when I didn’t move, the squirrel-man darted to the food and picked up the can. He jammed his nimble fingers in the gap, and then he licked the tips. “Mmm.” He yanked the lid all the way off.

I didn’t have time to watch him; I had to go. I slid my knife back in the sheath, put my closed pack on my back and then, with one quick look back to make sure he was focused on the food, I left. Questions about my stalker kept me occupied as I ran, but I shoved them away and forced myself to focus on my surroundings—making sure to look up as well as all around me.

A cautious man was one who lived to see another dawn; an incautious man could be dead in a heartbeat. I stopped one more time to check my progress on the map after I had to deviate to avoid a building claimed by pures; I’d seen two of them outside holding metal poles like weapons. My makeshift bandages weren’t needed on my hands, but the shirt had stuck to the wound on my leg and dried. I had no way to get it off without yanking it, and that would hurt too much, plus I’d probably just start bleeding again.

“Fifteen blocks. Two straight, four left, one right, five straight, two left, and one right.” I repeated that a few times; the midday sun was already passed and stopping again wasn’t necessary if I didn’t get lost. My leg and the stop for the squirrel-man had slowed me down more than I thought, and this area of the city was pretty congested. There were a lot of broken hulks of cars and hiding places for attackers that I had to skirt.

The watch I’d held on to when everyone switched over to smart phones still worked, so I knew a full hour passed before I was surveying the lab where I hoped to find the plant specimens. A miracle, most of the ground floor was solid, with just the doors broken inward.

I opened my mouth, inhaling as I smelled and tasted the air. Nothing like the other building, though there was an odor wafting on the breeze, I didn’t think it was coming from inside. Before I went in, I did a loop around the building. The entire first floor was concrete, the windows not starting until the second floor. It. was a strange design, but it gave me hope. Maybe the corrosive rains affecting the metal would not have damaged this building.

Creeping silently, hugging the walls, I went inside. I pushed my sun googles up, letting my eyes adjust to the dim light. The darkness farther inside the building, away from the broken doors, was impenetrable. I’d have to use a flashlight. I pulled my slim light out, giving it a few pumps to make sure it was charged. It cast only a small circle of light, but that was enough to see.

Thankfully, the stairs were stone and only went up. I decided to explore all of the ground floor first. Odds were, the research went on down here, where it would be more secure. I’d venture upstairs only if I had to.

Being right brought me a certain satisfaction, though I had no one to share it with when I found the lab. The doors were gone, rusted and collapsed to the floor in misshapen piles of brittle pieces, but the specimens were intact for once. I loaded them into my pack carefully, wrapping the two pods in my spare clothes.

“Homeward bound!” I muttered.

Getting out of the city was a quiet affair; the sun blazed down from midday to early evening, and not many could handle the heat. As long as I could block the light from the sun, I was fine with all the warmth it could blast down on me, but most of the pures and other creatures like me hid in dark places that offered some relief from the heat.

The heat of the day didn’t last long, though, and nighttime was brutal for me. I had the hardest time keeping warm. By the time I made it out of the city and was close to the rendezvous marker Pan left tied to the strut of a bridge we’d have to cross to get home, I’d started to shiver. At least I didn’t need my googles anymore, but I couldn’t wear my spare shirt, since I needed it for padding, and my other one was still torn up and tied to my leg. Pan could take one of the pods, and then I could put on my spare shirt.

“Who’s that?” Pan hissed.

I jumped and then glared at him. I hated when he hid like that, though I knew it was better to be safe than sorry when we were traveling away from the compound. “Me, you idiot. Who else would it be out here?”

Pan rolled his eyes. “Not you. I could hear you coming a mile away with the way you were stomping about. Him!” He thrust a finger, pointing and staring behind me.

Was it the pure? Had he tracked me, deciding to risk contamination for whatever I might have in my pack or found in the city?

Nope, I wasn’t that lucky. A pure we could scare off.

The squirrel-man was frighteningly persistent. And fucking sneaky. Even on my guard, I hadn’t caught him following me; I thought I’d left him far behind, eating a good meal I’d go without if it took us too long to get back to the compound.

Squirrel-man froze, his gaze locked on me. I looked away, crossing my arms over my chest and rubbing my hands up and down to generate some warmth on my pebbled flesh. “He’s harmless.”

Pan snorted. “No one is harmless. He’s survived this long, hasn’t he?”

That was a good point. “Well, he’s quiet. He managed to follow me yet stay out of sight all day.”

“Are you suggesting something?” Pan shook his head. “You really can’t help yourself, can you?”

“What if I’d “helped myself” when I found you while looking for those pills for Amerie?” I reminded him. Pan’s hooves clicked on the floor of the booth, and he looked down, avoiding my gaze. “None of us would have made it on our own; we all need help. This world has gone to hell in a handbasket, and without working together, we’re all just going to die alone and starving.” I’d been found by a man mixed with a canine species while he was traveling to try and find his family. He’d told me about a compound filled with changed ones like us, and when it was the choice between finding them or starving on my own, I’d left my apartment and taken to the road.

It was dangerous, but I’d found a certain comfort when I was traveling that I had no longer found cooped up in the safety of my apartment. I’d been slowly going insane, locked inside the city. The compound was too big and too busy for me to stay there long, but it became my home base.

Amerie forged everyone into a group focused on not just surviving, but living again in the new reality of the world as it was today. I was a scout, a finder… and I didn’t always bring back just what Amerie sent me for. Sometimes, when traveling the road, I found beings who needed my help. Just like I’d never been able to pass up an injured animal as a vet, the same compassion compelled me to help save them too.

The world might have gone insane, but my rescues helped keep me in touch with my human self. Squirrel-man would just have to come with us.

“Hey you. You coming?” 

 The End
So can you figure out what animal he was holding?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Wednesday Briefs: Fortitude Part 34

Yet another week... and now we find out who's grabbing Will! This week's update is inspired by the prompt: "He said what to you?"

Part 34

“Varket.” I tried to keep the surprise out of my voice, but I’m sure I failed. “To what do we owe this honor? Are you here to attend the games?”

“No,” he said shortly. Then he smiled, an unctuous, disturbing expression. “Unbeknownst to most of the attendees, the king was present at the concert last night. He heard of our little discussion, and he was fascinated with your take on the architecture’s impact on the music. He’s been undertaking some structural improvements to the city buildings—I’m sure you’ve noticed some of the decline in areas.” Varket could barely hide his disdain as he looked at my family’s home.

“How very interesting,” I said politely, not meaning a single word. “And this has to do with me, how?”

“As a beta, the king is very interested in hearing your thoughts. I overheard your brother say you were hosting your friend here, so he is more than welcome to attend the tea with the king as well.”

Alarm bells rang in my head. They wanted both of us to visit with the king? Had they found out about what we were doing? Was this some sort of ploy to lock us up and take my abilities? Until I came of age, my abilities were still weak—yet what other use could they have of me? Of us?

I waved hand in front of myself and Teddy, who’d remained silent at my side. “As you can see, neither of us are anywhere near attired to be presented to the king. We shall have to change.” We had to get away from them; the best option was if we could get inside. Maybe we could sneak out through the servants’ quarters.

Varket’s eyes narrowed. “No need, dear boy. The palace chamberlain will have proper suits waiting for you.” The guard holding on the back of his carriage stepped down and opened the door. “Shall we depart?”

Teddy was still silent as he climbed in the carriage ahead of me; I made sure I sat on the velvet seat next to him, leaving the other bench open for the man fetching us. The guard shut the door firmly behind Varket. The first block we were quiet.

“Your friend is very quiet,” Varket said. “A gamma, correct?” He stared at Teddy. “They’re always so… soft.” The look on his face sent a chill down my spine.

“Yes, Teddy is a gamma.” We all knew Varket was already aware of that fact. My chilly tone had no effect on Varket, other than to make him smile again—that same, nasty expression that made me want to be ill. The rest of the ride was made in silence.

We had to go through several gates and up a very long drive before we reached the king’s castle. The tall, stone walls were forbidding and added to my unease. My stomach churned; I wasn’t sure if I wanted this visit to really be tea or not. Trying to eat or drink when I was so nauseated would be risky.

I stepped forward, expecting Teddy to move up to my side. I turned, and saw Varket had him by his good arm and was saying something in his ear. Teddy’s eyes were huge, and he jerked out of Varket’s hold.

“Shall we go? I’d hate to be late, since we still have to dress.” I moved Teddy to my side away from Varket. I knew a predator when I saw one, and the slimy toad wasn’t getting his hands on Teddy ever again.

“Of course.” Varket led the way to a small chamber where two sets of clothes were set out on the bed. We were finally left alone, but who knew if there was someone listening in to our conversation.

“Here, let me help you.” I began to untie the sling holding Teddy’s arm securely to his side. “Are you okay?” I whispered.

“H-he said he was going to teach me my place… under him.”

“He said what to you?” I couldn’t keep my voice down. I shot a glare at the door, wishing Varket would come back in. “Don’t worry about it, Teddy. Let’s just get ready for our tea with the king.”

The lack of guards and the clothing suggested we were actually having a meeting with him. It seemed they hadn’t get caught on to our investigation like I’d feared. Was this part of the process of getting our abilities? Woo us, since we didn’t know any better? Cater to my ego about being a beta?

Well, it wasn’t going to work. My anger only made me more determined to bring the king and his cronies down.


My nerves were shot by the time we got back from the palace. My mother was agog with delight, insisting on hearing about every second of our time with the king. She demanded to know what we spoke about, if I remembered to mention them, if I was refined and gentlemanly during the tea service.

It was as exhausting as the actual tea. Worse, on the way back to the house, Teddy had fallen into a fugue state, and he was still out of it. My mother shot him a disgusted look when I used that as an excuse to escape.

“Hopefully he didn’t act in such a fashion among the nobility.” She sniffed.

“No, Mother.”

Once again, I helped Teddy undress. He was sitting there, naked, when his head snapped up. “The room with the skeleton is in the king’s palace. That’s where the device is hidden.”

“Why do you think that?” I asked, not because I didn’t believe him, but because I wanted to follow his logic.

“We passed the theater on the way back; it was just a matter of considering the direction of the tunnel and the distance. It’s definitely there.”

It wasn’t a big surprise… but it did complicate things. We wouldn’t be able to sneak in through the front door, after all.


Briefers Website

Monday, June 15, 2015

Author Interview: Alex A. Akira with DOJO BOYS!

Today I'm featuring an interview with Alex A. Akira and sharing more about her newest release, DOJO Boys: Dragon and Crow!
Have you ever gone out in public, realized your shirt is on backwards, and just don’t care?
No. Horribly, I’m an introvert so pay close attention to my appearance when venturing into society.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Drawing and painting, running, martial arts, hiking, rock climbing, yoga and sex…not necessarily in that order.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Write daily, research three days or more a week, and meditate if I can’t find the words to express what I want to say.
How many books/stories have you written? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve written about 45 stories, but only 8 were written for publication. Right now 3 books are published with 2 more to be out in September 2015.
I love Dragon and Crow because it was my first full manuscript, but whatever I am working on in the moment tends to get the most love. At this moment that work is Doll Drone, a yaoi android story scheduled to be a webepisode series on my website in September of 2015
What do you think makes up a good book?
I like intense stories that engage a reader and take them places they may not have gone before. I believe a story should get increasing better as it develops; the climax should be good, but the end should be even better. I also like characters that display courage and emotional growth in concurrence with the events of the story.
If you could give advice to yourself when you first started writing, what would it be?
For the love of God, get an editor… and a beta reader.
Did something inspire you to write a story that involves martial arts themes?
I’m a martial artist, so I figured I’d start with a subject I know something about.
Did the characters or the plot of Dojo Boys: Dragon and Crow come to you first?
I’d have to say the characters. I knew I wanted to write about a young American martial artist falling in love with a visiting martial artist from Japan. But once I envisioned Michael and Kiyoshi… well the storyline just kind of took off to where the characters wanted to go. Of course they wanted to go everywhere, so I had a lot of research to do to make the eventual plot work.
If your Dojo Boys was made into a movie, who could you picture playing the parts for Michael and Kiyoshi?
Wow, the writer's dream question huh? I'm going to answer by revealing the real-life inspirations for these two characters.
The character of Kiyoshi was inspired by: Hyde, Mizushima Hiro, Sato Takeru, Oguri Shun and David Chiang.
The character Michael was inspired by: Pablo Morais, Simonas Pham, Cameron Gentry and Michael Ealy.
So any actors that can capture the charming personalities and exquisite beauty of those mentioned, step on up… let’s talk.
Can you share anything about your current or future projects?
I’m currently reworking the two-volume sequel to Dragon & Crow, Dojo Boys: The Italian Connection, scheduled to be released in September 2015. I’m also writing an anthology of Dojo Boys shorts, which I’ve temporarily named Dojo Boys: The Lost Chapters, scheduled for a 2016 release.
Besides the yaoi android web series, Doll Drone, I’ve got a drug dealer-college student action-romance called Sweet in the works.
I’m also writing and illustrating another yaoi action series for my website, called Smithy which chronicles the adventures of a yahoo from the Midwest who gets scouted by a modeling agency. He discovers his mother, who raised him, is in a witness protection program when his modeling job unintentionally exposes her. Soon Smithy is using his unique “survival skills” and his international modeling gigs to track down her killers. This series of anecdotes will be appearing monthly on my website in Autumn 2015.

Title: Dragon and Crow - Deluxe 2 Volume Set

Series: Dojo Boys
Author: Alex A. Akira
Publisher: Triple A Press
Cover Artist: Alex A. Akira
Length: Volume 1 – 275 Pages; Volume 2 – 390 Pages
Release Date: 25th May, 2015
Blurb: Twenty-three-year-old, Native American, Michael Black’s well-ordered life is disrupted one evening when he is ambushed at the dojo he frequents by a mysterious Japanese youth who goes by the name of Kiyoshi.
Soon circumstances have the gorgeous teen staying with Michael at his apartment. The gifted nineteen-year-old is an intriguing mix of angst, innocence and crafty intelligence, but Michael is honor bound by a promise to his sensei to keep his distance. Michael tries to keep his desire in check, but what can he do if the exquisite teen keeps kissing him?
Volume two finds Michael in deep water when, in trying to help Kiyoshi, he is persuaded by his sensei to participate in a joint government undercover operation to bring down a Yakuza lord.
Before long Michael is immersed in beautiful men, martial arts and espionage all to gain the trust and love of Kiyoshi. Secrets, lies, sex and action combine in this racy, romantic, adventure of two men, Michael Black and his sensei, Ichiro Kimura, navigating a dangerous path for true love. 

Michael groped for the light switch, a smile of triumph playing at his lips. Damn, I did it! I beat him! Flicking the switch, he turned, eager to view his skilled opponent and to bask in the accolades that he was sure to receive from Sensei Kimura.
His triumph descended to dismay in a flash. Who the hell is this?
A slight figure lay crumpled at the center of the practice room. Cautiously approaching the limp form, Michael’s heart sank even further. Lying unconscious on the gleaming bamboo floor was a Japanese boy. He looked to be about five-foot-seven, was very pale, and quite young.
“A kid? I beat up a kid?” Quickening his pace, Michael knelt beside the slim figure. Jesus, he’s like fourteen, fifteen? Beautiful. He looks like Ichiro. Better, actually, Michael admitted, surprised at his internal betrayal of his long-held crush on his sensei. He continued to stare down at the slight, fragile boy, eyeing the long blue-black hair that trailed sensuously around the figure’s unfamiliar gray karategi.
Who the hell is he? Why would they have me beat up a kid for my test? Puzzled, he glanced around the room, noting that he and the boy were alone. Ignoring his impending alarm, he gazed back to the unconscious figure.
The youth’s face was truly beautiful. Michael’s inner artist drank in the smooth, pearly skin, the long, sooty lashes, and the pale apricot color blushed across the boy’s delicate cheekbones. God… An aching hunger preceded the lurch of Michael’s cock, which nudged his lower abdomen telegraphing its interest. Get it together. He’s like … twelve! Suddenly realizing that the boy showed no sign of regaining consciousness, Michael snapped from his trance and shook his opponent’s shoulder.
“Hey!” He leaned over the placid body, hand stretching toward the longish neck for a pulse. The telltale thump throbbed beneath his fingers, but his proximity to the boy’s face had him pausing to stare at the youth’s sculpted lips. Christ, get away from him before you do something you’ll regret. Frowning, he started to shift upright when a relentless grip clutched his hair.
Caught off guard, Michael fumbled helplessly as his head was tugged abruptly toward the face beneath him. The beautiful mouth claimed his lips, stealing his breath and muffling his gasp as a hot tongue invaded his mouth. The agile member eagerly caressed its counterpart, igniting Michael’s senses. The tantalizing scent of ripe apricots surrounded him, dizzying him with sensual promises, and urging him to surrender.

Alex A. Akira is the author of the yaoi romance series Dojo Boys, racy tales of young, male martial artists navigating some unorthodox and adventurous paths to find love. The Deluxe two-volume box set of Dojo Boys: Dragon and Crow are available at Amazon:



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