Hi guys, we have Amy Lane popping in today with her upcoming release Bonfires, we have a fantastic guest post from Amy and a great excerpt so check out the post and enjoy! <3 ~Pixie~
Ten years ago Sheriff’s Deputy Aaron George lost his wife and moved to Colton, hoping growing up in a small town would be better for his children. He’s gotten to know his community, including Mr. Larkin, the bouncy, funny science teacher. But when Larx is dragged unwillingly into administration, he stops coaching the track team and starts running alone. Aaron—who thought life began and ended with his kids—is distracted by a glistening chest and a principal running on a dangerous road.
Larx has been living for his kids too—and for his students at Colton High. He’s not ready to be charmed by Aaron, but when they start running together, he comes to appreciate the deputy’s steadiness, humor, and complete understanding of Larx’s priorities. Children first, job second, his own interests a sad last.
It only takes one kiss for two men approaching fifty to start acting like teenagers in love, even amid all the responsibilities they shoulder. Then an act of violence puts their burgeoning relationship on hold. The adult responsibilities they’ve embraced are now instrumental in keeping their town from exploding. When things come to a head, they realize their newly forged family might be what keeps the world from spinning out of control.
The Stranger in Our Pajamas
by Amy Lane
We can’t fight it, we can’t fix it, we can’t make it run slower. We’re given a finite quantity when we’re born, and every day thereafter is a fight to use it in the way that we love best—and some days, that means wasting it like sand.
And in a world—and an industry—that is traditionally dominated by young, pretty people, it’s not really our friend.
So why write about two heroes getting close to fifty? Men who, supposedly, have left the time for romance in their rearview and are solidly entrenched in productivity and responsibility and living respectable, risk-free lives?
Because I don’t feel that old, dammit!
Yes—I do have a recurring date with a bottle of hair-dye, and as I near fifty my list of old-people words gets longer: arthritis, cataracts, anemia, pre-diabetes, colitis, blah blah blah blah, just like when I was a little kid listening to my grandparents list their ailments, my health concerns bore me. And my dogs are beginning to take what even I admit is a frightening amount of my emotional time. And some of my children are grown. And it’s finally hitting me that I can’t eat like a kid anymore. And wrinkles—oh dear God don’t even get me started.
But that doesn’t mean I’m obsolete, dammit! That doesn’t mean I don’t have plans and places I want to go and books I want to write and exciting things to do with my life! I still get as excited going on a date with my Mate as I did when we were horny nineteen year olds looking for a dark spot to park our car–even though I’m really grateful for the bed and the lack of policemen at the end of the evening.
I mean, nearing fifty doesn’t mean I’m dead, does it?
And what about a love life? I like my love life. Not only do I like the snugglebunnies at the end of the day, but I like random kisses in the middle, the way Mate tugs on my hand when I’m leaving the room, the promise of a date together, no kids, at the end of the week. Yes, hot monkey sex doesn’t happen as often as it used to—but it still happens!
And beyond the physical, there is such a deeper appreciation for what a life-mate is near fifty.
This is someone who holds your values—often you’re both holding them up together, because the older you get the heavier a burden those things can be. Someone who has seen you at your worst—and still hangs in there hoping for the best. This person laughs at your jokes, loves your silliness and your idiotic dogs, and appreciates your kids for the marvelous amazing creatures they are. If you were stranded on a desert island and got one companion, this person is the one you’d want. And why not? Your kids can take care of themselves, mostly, and who else is going to know how you like your fried plantain?
And fifty isn’t dead yet. Fifty, in fact, has a number of years alive. And sure—things can happen, but things can happen at twenty or thirty or forty. When you’re nearing fifty, you don’t want to give up on the prospect of a life mate. You’ve got a hefty number of years walking the dogs and falling asleep in front of detective shows on TV ahead of you. Don’t you want a buddy next to you during that time?
I know I do.
And I also know I’m lucky—I’ve got Mate. After thirty years, we still make dates, still bring each other our favorite sandwiches when we bring takeout, and still go see movies that will make the other person happy. I hope to do this for at least another thirty years. But if Mate didn’t have me? If I got beamed up into outer space for testing or coopted into the zombie hordes? I’d like to think that Mate wouldn’t be alone for the next thirty years.
Like Larx and Aaron in Bonfires, I like to think he’d find a second chance at love.
Running in the Sun
AARON GEORGE adjusted the collar of his uniform and checked his graying blond hair in the rearview mirror—and then felt foolish. He was forty-eight years old, for sweet Christ’s sake. But Larx was running down Cambrian Way again, and he’d taken his shirt off in deference to the afternoon heat, and something had to be done.
His shoulders gleamed sleek and gold in the late-September sun, and his body—lean and long, although he was around Aaron’s age—moved with a longtime runner’s grace.
Aaron had been working hard to keep off the fifty pounds that had hit his waist when he turned thirty. He was about halfway successful, because diet and exercise weren’t as easy when you drove an SUV up and down mountain roads as they had been when he was flatfooting around the city.
But Aaron’s wife had died ten years ago, and he’d had three kids—two of them out of the house now. It had felt easier, somehow, to take a deputy position in Colton. The city—even Sacramento, which was a small city by most standards—was a young man’s game. Colton, population 10,000 or so, was a little more laid-back and suited for raising a family.
Which had apparently been Larx’s idea too, since he’d brought his daughters to Colton after his divorce.
Or that’s what Aaron had heard. Mr. Larkin—Larx to his students and staff—had moved to Colton seven years earlier. Aaron’s youngest two had taken Larx’s science class and pronounced him “way cooler than anyone else in this hick burg.” When the older administration retired, Larx had put up quite a fight to not be the principal.
Aaron hadn’t been there, of course, but his youngest, Kirby, had been an office TA his junior year. He’d heard the battles raging in Nobili’s office, and the staff room, and once, he’d told his father salaciously, in the middle of the quad.
In the end, Larx had conceded to be principal on three conditions.
One was that he got to teach AP Chemistry during zero period in the morning, before school, because he’d worked for five years to make the AP program flourish and he was damned if he’d give the class to the two-year rookie who was the only other teacher at the school qualified to teach the class. (Kirby told his father there had been much rejoicing with this caveat, because Mr. Albrecht was, by all accounts, a power-hungry little prick.)
The second condition was that his best friend, Yoshi Nakamoto, be promoted to the VP’s spot. Yoshi was in his early thirties and had taught English at John F. Colton High School for six years. As far as Aaron had heard, he was a solid teacher and a nice guy, and probably the exact person a new administrator would want to have his back.
The third condition was that Larx still got to coach the track-and-field team year round.
It was the one condition he hadn’t been granted, because (and, again, with Kirby as his source) Mr. Nakamoto had insisted Time-Turners were only real in Harry Potter books, and Larx just didn’t have the hours in the day.
Which was when Larx had started fucking with Aaron’s nice orderly life in a big way.
Because every day at 4:45 in the afternoon, Larx would appear on this stretch of road, right when Aaron was wrapping up his rounds of the county. He would run from the school down Cambrian, turn right on Olson—which was barely more than a tractor road—and cut through to the highway, which was squirrely as shit and had no shoulder. He’d run the highway for a mile, turn right on Hastings, which was also squirrely as shit and had no shoulder, and then turn right and run back to the high school on Cambrian.
The first time Aaron had seen him do this, his heart had stopped. Literally stopped. Because he’d seen the headlines scrolling behind his eyes: Local Principal Killed by Own Stupidity. Entire High School Runs into Road Like Wild Ducks in Protest and Mourning.
And then, just when his heart had started beating again, he’d seen—really seen—Larx without his shirt.
Aaron was forty-eight years old. He’d known he was bisexual in high school, but it had been easier to date girls than boys back then, so he’d gone with it. He’d loved his wife with all his heart, hadn’t looked back once from the day they’d met, and had been busy as hell over the past ten years trying to raise his children.
Aaron’s libido had mostly closed up shop since his wife died, with occasional openings during tourist season when the kids were at their grandparents’. One glimpse of that glistening, tan back, those rangy shoulders, the sweat-slicked black hair, and his libido woke up and started to pray to Cialis, goddess of horny middle-aged men.
He’d gunned his motor that day and passed Larx in a haze of confusion. He was desperate to get the hell out of there before Larx caught him staring openmouthed at a guy trying to be sweaty, glisteny roadkill in the red-dirt shade of pine trees up near Tahoe National Forest.
The next day his libido told him he’d been a fool to pass up that chance to watch Larx run, and that if he passed him again, he should slow down a tad and take in the view.
Aaron had done just that, slowing down a little, giving Larx a wide berth, smiling and waving as he passed. They knew each other from parent meetings, board meetings, community events. If given a chance, Aaron would gravitate to talk to Larx in a crowd, because he was funny and smart and a born smartass. So it was only natural that Larx waved back, friendly-like, and Aaron tried not to spend the next few hours of paperwork and gun and fishing permits grinning like a teenaged girl.
He’d had two of those. They weren’t rational creatures, and he had no intentions of turning into one.
Larx had a narrow, mischievous face, a rather sharp nose and chin, and wicked brown eyes with deep laugh lines at the corners. He looked more like a hell-raiser than an authority figure, and when he grinned and waved, he gave a couple of dancy little steps to help keep in rhythm on the side of the road.
It made him look like a perky little lemur, except human, and with glisteny tanned shoulders and laugh lines and a nearly hairless chest and an ass you could bounce a quarter off, barely covered in nylon running shorts.
But no. Aaron was in no way turning into a teenaged girl.
That hadn’t kept him from making sure he adhered religiously to his own schedule, the one that had him driving by Larx just when he started to sweat the most. Today, though, was going to be special. Today, Aaron was actually going to talk.
What could it hurt? Larx didn’t have to know about Aaron’s little crush. And even if he did think Aaron was hitting on him (which he most absolutely was positively not), Aaron knew for a fact that Larx had not only allowed but encouraged the GSA on campus. So even if he thought this was a come-on, and was not, in no way, absolutely not interested in men, hopefully he wouldn’t go screaming for the hills, holding his shirt to his magnificent chest in maidenly horror.
Or that was Aaron’s thinking, anyway.
Amy Lane exists happily with her noisy family in a crumbling suburban crapmansion, and equally happily with the surprisingly demanding voices who live in her head.
She loves cats, movies, yarn, pretty colors, pretty men, shiny things, and Twu Wuv, and despises house cleaning, low fat granola bars, and vainglorious prickweenies.
She can be found at her computer, dodging housework, or simultaneously reading, watching television, and knitting, because she likes to freak people out by proving it can be done.
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