A huge thanks to Lizzie for hosting me today, and to everybody who’s followed the CRW Mystic Month of May Blog Hop so far. We’re so happy to have you all with us!
Living in Colorado, there’s a lot about May to love. It’s warm and bright and absolutely beautiful. The sky is the brightest blue you’ve ever seen and the air is heavy with the scent of blooming trees. Later in the summer, it’ll be too hot for me to sit outside, but right now, it’s perfect.
Also, these are the last weeks of the school year, which means I have to relish my free time while I have it. Starting in June, I’ll have an eight-year old dogging my steps. :-)
I’d like to share an excerpt from my novel Between Sinners and Saints. This book won the 2011 CRW Single Title Award of Excellence. I’ll be giving away an ebook of Between Sinners and Saints to one commenter today.
First, here’s the blurb:
Levi Binder is a Miami bartender who cares about only two things: sex and surfing. Ostracized by his Mormon family for his homosexuality, Levi is determined to live his life his own way, but everything changes when he meets massage therapist Jaime Marshall.
Jaime is used to being alone. Haunted by the horrors of his past, his only friend is his faithful dog, Dolly. He has no idea how to handle somebody as gorgeous and vibrant as Levi.
Complete opposites on the surface, Levi and Jaime both long for something they can only find together. Through love and the therapeutic power of touch, they’ll find a way to heal each other, and they’ll learn to live as sinners in a family of saints.
And here’s the excerpt. At this point in the book, Levi and Jaime are visiting Levi’s large Mormon family for Thanksgiving.
The weather had been unseasonably warm, and that was what gave Levi the idea. It was a bit childish, but that was part of its appeal, and he hoped it would allow Jaime to get a decent night's sleep. He waited until everybody else had gone to bed. Once the house was silent, he got up. Jacob's son Roy looked up at him from his spot on the floor. That was good. It meant Levi didn't have to wake anybody up.
"Hey champ," Levi whispered to him. "Why don't you sleep in the bed tonight?"
"Don't worry about your dad," Levi told him. "I'll tell him it was my idea."
"Will we get in trouble?" Roy asked.
"No trouble," Levi told him. "I promise."
Once Roy was climbing into Levi's bed, Levi took the empty sleeping bag out into the hall. He left it by the linen closet and crept to the spare bedroom, where Jaime slept. He was a bit worried about how to wake Jaime up without scaring him to death, but it turned out to not be an issue. Jaime was wide awake and staring at the ceiling.
"What's going on?" he whispered to Levi.
"Come on," he said to Jaime. "Follow me."
In the dark room, he couldn't tell if Jaime was confused or curious, but he got out of bed. He watched silently as Levi nudged Carter awake. Carter didn't need any convincing to give up his bag in lieu of the empty bed.
Levi took Carter's bag and pillow, and handed them to Jaime. He led Jaime and Dolly down the hall, grabbing his own sleeping bag on the way. They went down the stairs, and across the linoleum floor of the kitchen with Dolly's nails clicking softly behind them, then out the sliding glass door and onto the patio.
"What are you doing?" Jaime asked, but Levi could hear the smile in his voice. "Are you crazy?"
"There's nothing wrong with sleeping outside." He started around the table on the patio without thinking about it, but then heard a thump and a muffled curse from Jaime. "You okay?"
"I can't see anything."
Levi reached back. His hand landed on Jaime's arm. He was pleased that Jaime didn't try to pull away. Levi slid his hand down and gripped Jaime's wrist. He led him around the first table, and past the giant potted strawberry plant that his mom had grown every year for as long as he could remember, now withered and brown. Then around the kid-size picnic table, down the steps and onto the lawn.
The air was cool and comfortable, and the grass felt cold and prickly against his bare feet. Once they were past the obstacle course of the patio, he let go of Jaime's wrist, but to his surprise, Jaime grabbed his hand instead. Levi turned to look at him, wondering at the sudden intimacy, but in the dark, he couldn't read Jaime's expression at all. He could tell only that Jaime was looking up at the half-bare branches of trees above them.
"Here?" Levi asked. "Or do you want to see the sky?"
Jaime's voice was soft and hopeful. "Sky."
"Good choice." Still holding his Jaime's hand, Levi led him toward the open side of the back yard, away from the swing set that had been there since he was a boy. There were a lot of tall trees in the back yard, but he knew there was a spot near the back of the yard that would afford them a clear view through the branches.
He stopped when he got there and spread out his bag, and Jaime followed suit, and they climbed into them. It reminded Levi of a hundred different times he had done this as a kid, with one of his brothers or sisters. Sometimes with all of them. Dolly lay down on Jaime's other side, and Levi looked up past the trees at a tiny patch of sky. They couldn't see many stars, but a silver sliver of moon floated above them.
Jaime sighed, sounding content. "This was a good idea."
Levi smiled. "I thought so, too."
"I haven't slept outside since..." His words trailed away as he thought about it. "Since the summer before my senior year of high school." The way he said it was odd. Sad, and yet, with a hint of fondness.
Levi turned toward him, propping his head up on his elbow so he could look at him, although it was too dark to read his expression. He could see just enough to know that Jaime was staring up at the moon. It was so rare for Jaime to volunteer information about his past. He waited, wondering if he would have to prod him to get him to say more, but after a minute, Jaime started talking again.
"It was a lot like this, actually," he said. "My friend Craig knew I had nightmares. Sometimes he'd invite me over and we'd sleep in his back yard." Jaime stayed on his back, but turned his face toward him, and Levi resisted the urge to lean closer in an attempt to read his expression. "Did you ever read Christine?"
The apparent change of subject surprised him. "By Stephen King? No."
"I read that book when I was sixteen, and I always felt like I was Arnie and he was Dennis. I was the loser and he was the popular kid who somehow ended up being my friend." He looked back up at the night sky. "He lived around the block from me, so I'd see him a lot in the summer. He had a lot of friends though, and girlfriends. Once school started, I'd kind of fade away."
"That's shitty," Levi said.
In the low light, Levi could barely see Jaime's shrug. "Not really. It wasn't that he was an asshole or anything. He had a life. And I didn't. But he was the best friend I had back then." He stopped for a minute, and then said, quieter, "Especially that year. Sleeping in his back yard is the only thing about Cleveland I've ever missed."
The way he said it sparked a twinge of jealousy in Levi. "You were in love with him."
"I guess I was. I didn't really think of it in those terms at the time, but yeah. I used to live for those nights."
"So what happened?"
"Same thing that happens to everybody at that age. We graduated, and he went to OSU and I came down here."
"And that's it?" Levi asked.
"That's it." He turned toward Levi again. "I haven't seen him since."
"I'm so sorry, Jaime." He knew as soon as the words were out if his mouth that he shouldn't have said them.
"For what?" Jaime asked in surprise.
For not being there. For not meeting you sooner. For not protecting you all those years ago. But of course, he couldn't say any of those things.
Jaime watched him silently. Now that his eyes had adjusted to the dark, Levi could barely make out the features of his pale face--his strong jaw, and soft lips. His eyes were lost in shadows. And suddenly, Levi wanted him so much, it took his breath away. He'd grown used to being close to Jaime, even sleeping in the same bed without letting his feelings get the best of him. But now, lying in the moonlight in his parents' back yard, he felt he couldn't stand to wait another minute. He ached for him.
They were in separate bags, with less than a foot of space between them. He imagined leaning across that gap. He imagined kissing Jaime, claiming the softness of his lips, stealing his breath. He imagined feeling Jaime's arms around his neck, and he felt his body respond.
He wanted to kiss Jaime's neck, to whisper in his ear. The bags would be between them. Was it possible that would give Jaime the barrier he needed to feel safe? Even as he thought it, Levi knew he wanted more. He wanted to unzip Jaime's bag and slip his hands inside. He wanted to feel Jaime's skin against his fingertips. He wanted to slide his hand under his waistband, to cup his soft, round ass in his hands, to pull his slim body tight against him. He wanted to hear Jaime gasp, to make him squirm, to hear him moan. He wanted to slide down his body, to suck him deep into his mouth, to feel Jaime's fingers clench in his hair. He wanted to make him come undone.
He had to try. He had to risk it. He reached out, moving his hand slowly across the grass toward Jaime. He wanted to touch Jaime's hair, and run his fingertip down his cheek. If that didn't scare him away, it would be easy to lean closer. His heart pounded in his chest as he anticipated feeling Jaime's lips against his.
Buy it here:
At Amber: http://tiny.cc/wztlp
At ARe: http://tiny.cc/ejrfh
Ebook on Amazon: http://amzn.to/jNa2Zt
Marie Sexton lives in Colorado. She’s a fan of just about anything that involves muscular young men piling on top of each other. In particular, she loves the Denver Broncos and enjoys going to the games with her husband. Her imaginary friends often tag along. Marie has one daughter, two cats, and one dog, all of whom seem bent on destroying what remains of her sanity. She loves them anyway.
Visit Marie’s website at http://mariesexton.net/, or join her for Coffee and Porn in the Morning at http://cupoporn.wordpress.com/.