1 - Joel Passaro wasn’t sure what constituted a better birthday present: the boat ride or the blowjob.
Truthfully, it didn’t matter which won out, since he enjoyed both at the same time. The sailboat rocked with melodramatic exaggeration as Joel’s boyfriend, Charlie, enthusiastically went down on him. Charlie’s eyes glinted as he pushed Joel’s legs farther apart, as he changed the angle of his mouth to pull Joel down inside of him.
2 - The bell rang out twice, unbearably sweet.
The drums rolled and were silent. As a wind from the sea ruffled the hair of the assembled company, Joshua Andrews looked to one side of the gallows, his eyes unfocused. There was a thunder and rattle as the trapdoor fell open and then, just on the edge of hearing, the snap of a neck and the collective intake of almost five hundred held breaths, as the Nimrods instinctively inhaled to make sure they still could.
3 - Gareth's boots thundered against the stone floor of the corridor as he approached Tristam's private chamber.
The noise was deafening in the silence of the hall, but Gareth ignored it and kept going. Something was brewing, and he meant to find out what. He gave the door a solid knock and then waited.
4 - In the cargo pit of the shanghai-taxi, Nickerson’s gen-stimmed olfactory sense detected the aromas of hot oil, metal shavings, and sweat-dank desperation.
A catjob’s sense of smell, catjob hearing, catjob reflexes. He had also the enriched visual capacity of a feline; that leg of the transformative procedure had given him the telltale vertical pupils that identified him as the product of gen-stimming. This hardly made him an abnormality. Many people had undergone the change. It was how catjob had entered the language. But Nickerson’s enrichment was prime quality, state of the art. Those who had recruited him from the urban wilds of Earth had wanted a master assassin, which was precisely what he had become.
5 - Cade squinted at the travel alarm clock on the coffee table.
Years of familiarity didn’t do shit to ease the jolt of panic and the sinking sensation he got from being late. Again. He rolled off the couch and bounced off the walls on his way to the shower. It was probably a really stupid waste of time to shower before going to pick through garbage, but he couldn’t face even the world of community service without one.
6 - An ear-piercing screech echoed through the castle followed by the slap of bare feet on marble floor.
The sound of skin hitting the polished stone in the entryway suddenly muted into a soft thud. Aiden looked up from his sketchscreen.
7 - As Tony Bianchi sat in on yet another business meeting his mind began to wander to Daniel Willis.
He looked at his watch again. It was another three hours before he could pick Daniel
up at the hospital and take him home.
8 - The smell of cheap motel rooms was comforting to him, like his oldest, rattiest T-shirt.
Lysol, unwashed feet, and that sour tang of grime and desperation that tried to dress up
and look nice with laundered sheets and those stiff bedspreads that felt like sandpaper on
your ass, bargain basement art on the walls and the cheap paper-wrapped chits that
weren’t so much soap as a suggestion of what soap might be like.
9 - Finally, the night I had waited for all my life was here.
I had just completed fourteen weeks of intensive police training, graduated from the Maryland County Police Academy and was reporting for my first shift. At 23, I was in better physical condition than at any other time in my life. All of the rookies drew lots, and I drew the midnight shift for my first time out of the station house. It was time to walk the dangerous tightrope of being a gay man in the ultrahomophobic world of the police.
10 - He’s nothing but another slave,” I said, sourly.
My head hurt from the night before. There’d been heavily spiced food at
the Council festival and excessive wine, rich as bull’s blood. I’d felt lethargic all
day, though that was to be expected after the overnight attentions of an enthusiastic
bedmate"or three. The sun had passed the mid-day point hours ago, and I had a graintrade
meeting set for early evening, but at the moment I doubted I’d bother to turn up. It
wouldn’t be the first time I’d skipped my pompous Council duties as Chancellor.
11 - I stormed into St. Joe’s at the height of the Noon Ash Wednesday Mass.
Still dressed in my scrubs, I pushed through the massive arched chapel doors, bringing with me a gust of cold February wind. Seeing Jamie’s pretentious car parked in front of the church, I lost my shit. I figured Jamie was expecting some kind of absolution by
appearing at this penitential mass. He was seated in the third row, his head bowed, that
gloriously tousled mass of golden hair gleamed like a beacon of innocence next to the
shining helmeted up-do of his repressed, miraculously blond mother.
1) Astrid Amara, The Valde: Water (Loose Id)
2) Alex Beecroft, Captain’s Surrender (Linden Bay)
3) Sara Bell, The Devil’s Fire (Torquere Press)
4) Eric Del Carlo, Blood in the Water (Loose Id)
5) K.A. Mitchell, Hot Ticket, (Samhain Publishing)
6) JL Langley, My Fair Captain, (Samhain Publishing)
7) Carole Lynne, Broken Pottery, (Ellora’s Cave)
8) Jane Seville, Zero at the Bone (Dreamspinner Press)
9) John Simpson, Murder Most Gay (Dreamspinner)
10) Clare London, Masquerade (Eternal Press)
11) LB Gregg, Gobsmacked (Aspen Mountain Press)