Friday, February 20, 2015

Sneak Peek: Wedding Favors

I'm a bit under the weather today, so I thought I'd offer up a teeny, tiny, totally unedited and unexpurgated (whatever that means) glimpse at a short story I'm working on. This is from "Wedding Favors," the sequel to "Perfect Day."

I repeat, it is a short story, so those of you who don't see the point in short form fiction, keep moving. It is also romance with no mystery. What can I say? Sometimes even I just don't feel all that homicidal!

I hope to have it out sometime in March, but there are taxes to be paid (so very many taxes) and houses to be hunted (so very many houses). So we'll see.

Graham thinks Wyatt would feel more secure if they were married. Wyatt doesn't want to spoil Graham’s wedding plans. So who’s really doing who a favor?


I was holding a bag of frozen peas against my eye when Graham walked into the kitchen.

“No use,” he said. “Mind control won’t work on pea-brains.”

“You’re telling me.” I lowered the bag of frozen veggies.

Whoa. What happened to you?”

“Tenth grade biology.”

He dropped his leather utility tote on the table, and moved to where I sat. His work-roughened hands were gentle as he tipped my head back to study the puffy bruise on my cheekbone. “Ouch. How the hell--”

“I walked into it.”

“You walked into a punch?” His touch was still gentle, but his gray eyes were searching.

“Yeah. I did.” I replaced the cold bag against my hot face. “So stupid I can’t believe it.”

“What happened?”

“Mitch Frankel tackled Richie Nunn.”

“What, your two football stars? I thought they were best friends.”

“They are. Were. Since they were kids. Little kids, I mean.”


I moved my head in negation. “Who knows. Hormones probably.”

“Is it mating season?”

“It’s always mating season when you’re sixteen.”

“True.” Graham’s smile grew thoughtful. “Five days before the wedding.”

I said shortly, “I know. It’ll ruin the photos. Maybe we should postpone.”

I was kidding, of course. Until I said it, I thought I was kidding. Graham thought I was kidding. Or at least he laughed. But then his smile faded. His dark brows drew together. He stared at me for a moment.

“You okay, Wyatt?” he asked finally.


“No,” Graham said slowly. He drew out the chair next to the table and sat down, facing me. “No, you’re not.”

Not much for talking, Graham, so this was a major effort on his part.

“I’m just stressed.”

“Okay. Well…”

I huffed out an exasperated breath as he trailed off.

“What’s going on?” His gaze met mine, serious and steady.

I shook my head. I didn’t begin to know how to explain this to Graham, when I was still trying to explain it to myself.

“Cold feet?” He sounded curious more than anything. The geologist observing shearing forces, noting pressure and temperature.

“Do you think maybe we’re…rushing into this?” I watched his face, but Graham didn’t give anything away unless he chose to. Even after more than a year together, I couldn’t always read him.

He said finally, evenly, “You do.”

“Maybe.” I took a deep breath. “Yes.”

“You don’t think maybe you should have brought this up earlier?”

“Yes, I should have brought it up earlier.”

“Why didn’t you?”

I said with a hostility that caught even me off guard, “It was hard to get a word in edgewise between the discussions of cake flavors and wedding favors.”

His eyes narrowed. “I see.”

I don’t think he did though.

Because I didn’t. A few months before I wouldn’t have been able to think of anything that made me happier than the idea of being married to Graham. I’d been overjoyed when he’d brought the subject up. Proposed. That was the official term for it. But that was before I figured out that we were getting married for the wrong reasons. Marriage as relationship therapy.

Probably not a good idea.

Certainly there were cheaper methods -- given that a relatively small wedding cake started at around a grand. Thank God it was June, because out-of-season flowers? We could probably landscape the front yard for what we’d spend. Not that we would ever landscape the front yard. Not that we’d ever change so much as a shrubbery or a lighting fixture at the house on Startouch Drive. The house Graham had shared with Jase.

“Do you want to call it off?” That was practical and straightforward Graham cutting right to the heart of the matter. And cutting my heart out at the same time.

My swallow was audible. No. I didn’t want to call it off. But I didn’t want us to be married for the wrong reasons either. Marriage was difficult enough without entering into it because we were afraid we wouldn’t make it if we weren’t legally bound and gagged.

I mean, a few years ago I hadn’t even thought marriage was a possibility. Let alone imagined what was turning out to be my big fat gay wedding.

“I…don’t know,” I admitted.

The planes of Graham’s face grew harder, the lines more pronounced. But his voice was level as he said, “That sounds like a yes to me.”

“I love you.”

“But you don’t want to get married.”

I said again, “I don’t know.”

“I do.” The chair scraped noisily as Graham rose. His back was to me as he went to the sink and stared out at the redwood deck and the green clouds of tree tops.

I rose too. “I do want to get married,” I said. It was hard to get the words out past the increasing tightness in my throat. “But I want it to be at the right time for the right reasons.”

He said without turning around, “And love isn’t the right reason?”

“It’s not the only reason to get married.”

He finally turned. “Then what do you want?”

“I…” I didn’t understand the question.

That must have been obvious because he said with that same unfamiliar hardness, “Are you moving out?”

It felt like the gleaming floorboards cracked beneath my feet. I unobtrusively placed my hand on the table to steady myself. “Is that what you -- that’s not what I want. That’s not what I’m saying.”

“What are you saying, Wyatt? If you don’t want to get married, what do you want? What are we doing? Because to choose not to make a commitment at this juncture feels serious to me.”

At this juncture? He was angry and getting angrier by the second, which I hadn’t expected. Probably because Graham had never been genuinely angry with me before. That I was aware of anyway.

“I don’t want to end anything.”

“But you don’t want to move forward.”

How was it possible that we were having this conversation? That I was somehow in the position of being the one who didn’t want to move forward? By rights that should have been Graham’s line. Graham was the one who had initially had doubts, concerns, hesitations. I fell in love with Graham before Graham fell in love with me. Not that I was keeping score. But it’s not like I didn’t remember.

“I am committed to us. To this relationship. I don’t want anything to change.”

He just stared.

“I mean that.”

He laughed. Or at least he made a humorless sound that was probably supposed to be a laugh. “Okay. You tell me what you think happens now.”

All the work he’d put into this. All the planning and preparation. The expense. We would never get our deposits back. It was way too late. It wasn’t about the money, but even so, that disregard for his time and effort, that would be part of why he was so furious, and I didn’t blame him. Why the hell hadn’t I spoken up?

“I’ll…take care of everything,” I said. “I can call and let everyone know we’re postponing.”

“That would be helpful.” Anyone else and I’d have known they were being sarcastic.

I said tentatively, hopefully, “At least there’s no deposit on a reception hall.”

“Yeah, what a relief,” Graham said coldly, and walked out of the kitchen.


  1. Whoa, what a teaser! I really want to know more...!

  2. Seriously? Leaving it THERE?! Leaving us hanging? #howrude

  3. Ouch! You couldn't, maybe, have blogged their epic make-up scene instead? ;) I'm just going to trust you to get them through this. Until the story is finished, whenever that may be, I will just sit here smiling serenely, humming, 'la-la-la,' with my fingers in my ears. :D

    1. Where's the fun in that?!

      By the way, that fingers in the ears thing is how I spend most days. :-D

    2. Then you type with your toes?

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  5. Hi Josh,

    Sorry you are not feeling well. All I can say to cheer you along is this: at least you didn't have to wake up to a 2 degree temperature like some of us did this morning. See...there always is a silver lining. :)

    I love your short stories because you actually know how to write them. And, because they are all such treasures, I have not read the above excerpt. I'm sure it is glorious, but I want the full experience in one gulp—not to be teased to death! :)

    Take care, Josh.

    1. 2 degree temperature and I think I would still be in bed! :-D

  6. Wish you better soon! Wow, this is powerful stuff. I used to think I didn't really like short stories, but that was before you showed us how it should be done.

  7. You just made me feel sicker!!! Feel better but how could you leave us like this!

    1. You need rest and chicken soup and orange juice. I have been watching you run around Facebook while you're sick. In fact, I think I caught this from you!

  8. Damn! How could you do this to us? I have to wait how long to find out what happens?

    1. The story will be out before you know it. Or that's how it feels to me every time! :-D

  9. Just cause you don't feel good ... you had to make the rest of us uncomfortable too!!! Wow ... and we have to wait to get your curative medicine! I sincerely hope this is done now!!! Can't wait to finish reading it!! Hurry & get well so we can too! 😂😂😉😉💖💖

  10. Arghh, such a good teaser! :-)

    Please take care of yourself, rest, and drink lots. I hope you feel better very soon!

    1. Thank you, KC! I have consumed gallons of chicken soup now. And sparkling water. So those germs should really float away.

  11. You could totally have a cameo from Griff, planning their wedding. Or better yet, write a Griff/Hamar murder mystery/wedding novella. Not that I'm begging. :-D Okay, I'm totally begging.

    1. Well, other than the fact that he lives a few states over... :-D

  12. I knew it before reading, that I should wait for the whole story!! :-) Now I have many scenarios playing in my mind. You are so good on catching the helplessness, one knows that the discussion will fail, but can't find the right way to have a real comunication with the other person. ( Apart from that it would been so much better, if Wyatt had voiced his concern a little bit earlier!)
    Dear Josh take care!

    1. Thank you, Sabine. I figure if my cold is no better after two days, it is time to get up and start working. That usually does the trick.


  13. That's it. I'm definitely going to call off your Wedding Favors banners. How's that for TEASING!!!


    Alright, alright, I loved it. But I'm seriously considering some cruel, virtual punishments like... cutting off your virtual hugs and your virtual ice cream for a while...

    :-D :-D

    I can't wait to read the whole story and to find out how you're going to fix the situation between them. And I don't have any doubt that you're going to make us even much more desperate before that. 'Cause you're so terribly good at that. Yes, that was a compliment. :-)

    1. I think this will be a story about arguments. Because in romance fiction we don't really see enough authentic debating of problems. And yet in real life this is how we work out those differences of opinions. :-)

    2. This is definitely one of the things I fell in love with in your writing in the first place — you make it all feel so real. What a treat we're going to have in Wedding Favors! :-) I'll start preparing myself for the whole scale of emotions you're no doubt going to put those guys (and us, your readers!) through. Virtual hugs and ice cream coming your way... :-)

  14. Not feeling homicidal? This is a wedding we're talking about, right?
    You're just trying to convert me to a romance reader....well, you're succeeding.
    Feel better soon. Eat lots of ice cream.

  15. wow, i can't wait to see how this turns out! thanks for the peek

  16. Thanks for the sneak peek and can't wait for you to publish Wedding Favors. March is only two weeks away, but I've purchased plenty of your previously published books (I love alliteration!). :-D

    Rest and drink plenty of fluids. Live long and prosper, Judy S

  17. Aargh, and now we have to wait?
    We might start to feel homicidal ;-))

    Just joking, get well soon!



    1. ARGH. That is me for the last two days. Followed by UGH. I hate being sick. Especially when I have so much to do.

  18. Thank you. Even in your sick bed you were still able to squirt out a ficlet to tease your audience and let us know you're still alive and kicking and that you will have something published soon. I agree with Susan, even if you were to pop out a 1 page story it would still be a great read because your writing is that awesome. Also, as a fan, it was so cool of you to give us a little someim, someim to tied us over. Oh, congrats on the house hunting, I hope it's the "I'm moving on up to the east side in a deluxe apartment in the sky." Jefferson type of move and not the "This Old House" type. Take care and drink only hot liquid to unthaw your congestion. Looking forward to your next great read. 8-)

    1. Frankly, this old house IS falling down around my ears, but the idea is to trade up. :-) Thank you for knowing your Irish music. :-D

  19. Hah nice teaser I love the humor ya install in every book. Nothing better than laughing along with tears and mysteries. Oh ya person mentioned a book the palest ink, from you? is that in the petit series? Naturally I wanna read it too heh
    Get well Brother. Aisen

    1. A few tears, a few laughs...I think you need that in every story. :-)

  20. Sounds like pending homicide to me. Can't wait for the rest.

  21. Oh, every time these two interact ... Don't you just want to shake some sense (alliteration too, btw) into them?

    Josh, I hope you've recovered. March is this coming Sunday, you know. ;p


  22. I had just reread "Perfect Day" a few days ago, and intended to ask if we might get a sequel with Graham & Wyatt ...when I check out your blog and find out the good news!
    Am anxious to see how they resolve the wedding (or not wedding).
    Hope you are feeling better and keep us informed about the house hunt...I too plan to look this Spring. I hate house hunting tho, usually what I can afford I don't want, and what I want I can't afford :)
    BTW, I was also rereading CUTYS...would love to see more of Swift & Max sometime...

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  24. Sounds like there is a bit of tension building at the end of that extract!