When a Character Begins Talking….
Yes, my characters talk to me. That isn’t the problem. The problem is…I don’t always listen to them. As a result, they tend to come up with interesting ways to get my attention. I’ve had them use dreams, comments from friends, even scenes for other books, but the most interesting method was a fast food run. Yup, a fast food run.
I wasn’t expecting it and it was quite eye opening. There I was, just driving down the road to the nearest golden arches and wham! I hear:
“She won’t let me do it.”
Huh? Yeah, I about ran a red light when I heard that deep whisper. “Do what?” I asked.
“Aimee won’t let me kill myself.”
And that’s how Vance started his story. Now, if it had been one of my already familiar stories, I would have had no problem driving another eight miles to the next McDonald’s to talk about his story, but then he dropped another bomb on me.
He was in love with Ben. Ben? Murphy? The bartender at the Diablo Blanco Club?
What the—? I don’t write male-male romance.
Then I could see the expression on Vance’s face. I could have smacked him, the grin was that annoying.
“You do now.”
Yeah, I figured that one out real quick.
That simple trip to get a Big Mac ended up in a forty minute drive that resulted in a 37,000 word novella. One of my favorite books, because Vance and Ben are two very compelling men who deserve a happily ever after, but Vance had to believe he deserved that happily ever after. And ugh!! talk about a man who couldn’t forgive himself. Ben is a healer, but he definitely had to work overtime on this guy!
Under Control, the second book in the Diablo Blanco Club series was originally published through Loose Id, LLC in May 2009. This year I received the rights back to the book. I revised it slightly, adding only ten pages to the original story, then self-published it. And Vance couldn’t let me be during revisions either.
Oh no. He had to pipe up again during revisions and turn everything on its head. He was determined I make sure everyone understood how important Aimee really was to him and Ben, which I did. I’m quite proud of the changes I’ve made to the story, but I’ll let you all decide if pushing past my comfort zone to write in a genre I’d never tried before and letting my character harass me into adding changes I hadn’t intended was worth the effort. I hope you enjoy this excerpt from Under Control.
Excerpt (For Adults only):
Voices buzzed and hummed throughout the central lounge of the Diablo Blanco Club, but Ben Murphy paid little attention to it. The same jumble of emotions that he’d been dealing with for the last six months limited his interest in the numerous bits of drama and play taking place around him.
When he’d gotten the news from Lennox, Ben wasn’t sure which hit him harder—Vance’s injuries or Aimee’s death. The conversation replayed in his head at the oddest times, distracting him, like now.
“Gunny’s hurt, Cap. Took some shrapnel, but they say he’s gonna make it.”
Before he could respond the static on the line cut off part of what Lennox was saying. “Say again, Lennox.”
“The Kirk girl. She’s dead. Gunny’s freakin’ out. We had to tranq him for evac, sir.”
“Hey, Ben, pass the Grey Goose.” The request from the bartender working with him dispelled the memory, but the ache stayed.
He passed the bottle of vodka and stared absently at the crowd filling the Club, wondering how much was real and how much simply acting. A new visitor sat on the edge of the room, his gaze moving around the room, stopping to look at something before slowly continuing on. Ben absently made a note of his dark hair, pale eyes, and the neatly trimmed beard and mustache covering his chin and jaw.
On the sofa facing the bar, one of the club’s owners, Bryce Halsey, smiled as his wife knelt before him, her mouth sliding up and down his cock until he stopped her. He’d definitely met the submissive to match his Dominant when he married Mattie Lawrence, Ben almost grinned at the groans from the people watching as Mattie rose and mounted her husband, riding him with her back to his chest, her breasts exposed. No acting for those two.
In another part of the room, Bryce’s younger brother, Mike, and five other Doms played poker at a table near the closed dining area. He watched Mike graciously send away a woman vying for his attention before Mike glanced at the sofa Bryce occupied. It lasted only a moment, but Ben spotted the way Mike looked at his brother and sister-in-law. Pain and envy mixed in Mike’s gaze before he hid it behind a charming mask for his companions. Ben was more than aware that Mike’s envy of his brother’s wife wasn’t based on wanting her for himself, but because the woman Mike did want was Mattie’s older sister. Lyssa Lawrence, who happened to be Ben’s neighbor, was determined to avoid entangling herself with a man six years her junior. So intent that she’d sworn Ben to keep a secret she should have shared with Mike.
Richard Bennett, Bryce’s business partner in the Club, also seemed to be hiding something as he avoided being seen by Bryce. The tight expression on the other man’s face didn’t encourage conversation as he nodded at Ben before heading down the hall toward the stairs to the dungeon below. Ben knew the familiar black bag Richard carried held an assortment of whips and floggers. He’d watched Richard wield them, even taken a lesson or two on how to throw a few.
Ben was no different than the people around him. He had his own reasons for wearing a mask, hiding secrets from those he was closest to. He’d learned early in his teens that a man who was attracted to both women and men was not welcome in the Murphy household or in Virginia. Ben had attempted to placate his father’s anger over his bisexuality by joining the Marines and serving his country. It hadn’t helped.
But it had introduced Ben to Vance Justiss. That, in turn, led to his invitation to San Diablo, Vance’s home town, and being introduced to the owners and members of the Diablo Blanco Club. It hadn’t taken him long to realize how much freer he felt in San Diablo than with his family. Not to mention his growing feelings for his fellow Marine.
Six years ago, when Ben left the Marines and decided to pursue a degree in medicine, he moved away from Virginia and as close to Vance as possible. In the two years they served together, Vance’s bisexual nature hadn’t been a secret in San Diablo, even if it was never mentioned around other members of the military.
Ben settled in, earned his degree as a physician assistant and enjoyed spending time with Vance whenever he was on leave. At least, Ben had liked it until Vance’s unit was deployed overseas fifteen months earlier. Now, since hearing about Vance being wounded in a skirmish with terrorists somewhere in Iraq, Ben was waiting for the stubborn bastard to come home. Losing Aimee was going to be hell on his friend.
A drink request from a patron pulled Ben from his thoughts. He allowed himself to get lost watching the varied reactions of the members to the different activities playing out around the room, waiting on customers, and turning down two guests curious about meeting for drinks after he got off shift. After the second offer, Ben realized it had been a while since he’d last had sex.
Pausing, he ran a damp towel over the taps on the draft beer dispenser and took a few moments to actually remember when he’d last been with anyone. Despite the frequent offers he’d received lately, he’d had no problem turning the interested parties down. The truth behind his lack of interest was that he found it difficult to maintain a hard-on while his best friend, the man he loved, was halfway around the world fighting a bloody war.
After hearing how close he’d come to losing him, Ben decided it was time to finally tell Vance the secret he’d been keeping for years. How the object of his affection would handle the confession was another issue entirely. Although he didn’t doubt Vance’s friendship and he had long ago identified his friend’s attraction and interest in members of both sexes, Ben was unsure how accepting of his feelings his friend would be.