My wonderfully astute husband pointed out that I am usually insane after moving. He thought it prudent to move the chat until after we’re settled. I agreed. Thus, I will be chatting on Feb 18th on either the Sybpress site or the Soldier’s Choice site. I’ll post an announcement as the time gets closer. I’m also going to hold off on contests and save them for the chat.
The move has been more traumatic than the others partly because this has been our longest residence since coming to LA in 1995. And mainly because we weren’t willing to move. Condo-conversion has forced us to go sooner than we’d planned. Despite our complex’s odd location (convenient only to LAX) and the constant rhythm of jet engines, we’ll miss this place. It had critters besides strafing hummingbirds and wacky squirrels. There are snowy egrets and falcons and even a fox that lives on the airport grounds. Then again, we knew the time was coming to leave Playa del Rey. It has been developing at a frenzied place. Traffic and parking are becoming impossible. A new place will have new energy. I’ve opted to look on the move as a positive thing. Though the bare walls and magnet-less fridge make the last days of transition depressing. Let’s talk about something that’s more fun.
I’m talking about the literary kind, not the actor kind in this instance. I find it very hard to let go of Vincent Greven and Rik Heron from A Soldier’s Choice. My bonus chapter is actually long enough for three chapters, and still those naughty boys are murmuring seductively in my ear to let them continue to play. I certainly love my other male characters, but something about this pair has me completely enthralled. They were such fun to write. The guys are sardonic as well as sexy. They are as funny as they are brave. But I think it’s their vulnerability that makes me want to stay with them. As soldiers, Vincent and Rik are the most dangerous and talented the military has produced, but in matters of the heart, they are relatively untried and fragile. They often get things wrong and suffer for it – especially with those closest to them. For example, one of Vincent’s oldest friends has a lot of trouble coping with his relationship with Rik in this excerpt:
It took a mere five minutes more to tell my squad of over six years that we were retiring. There were not many questions. Perhaps that was because they would still be seeing me fairly often. Perhaps it was because they had felt my detachment some time ago. They wished us luck and promised to throw a lewd party at some point. There was nothing to do but return to my office to move out some of my things.
We had just piled a number of my personal belongings on the couch when the door slammed open and closed leaving what looked to be a furious Jenn Saxl in the room.
“It’s bad enough that you drag Vincent into your twisted games,” she snarled. “You have to have Bobby, too?”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Vincent bristled. “Nobody dragged me anywhere. I went to him on my own.”
“Like you had a choice,” she spat. “This...pervert...has controlled you since you were a kid.”
I was spared snorting out loud at that by my lover’s derisive retort.
“If you think that about our past, you weren’t paying close attention,” Vincent all but shouted in a full-blown Greven tantrum. “He never laid a hand on me that way until two weeks ago. Fuck, I was twenty-fucking-one before I was ever kissed!”
Jenn had sense enough to cower a little in the face of that fury. The room was crackling with his power.
“But why does Bobby have to be involved?” she demanded.
“Rik and I became his legal guardians today to protect him,” Vincent snarled. “He’s manifested.”
Jenn gasped. A lot of wind was taken from her sails. “How can either of you protect him when you’re part of the military?”
“We retired effective today,” Vincent said. His own anger subsided as the threat to me lessened. “We need to keep him close until he decides what he wants to do.”
Vincent’s voice was normal, but I knew he was an emotionally worn and trembling.
“Enough,” I said quietly.
My lover looked lost without anger to fuel him. I took him in my arms and held him tight. His arms nearly crushed me. Jenn was riveted on us as I wordlessly comforted him.
“I am so sorry that this has upset you,” I said to her as I gently stroked Vincent’s hair. “This should have been handled more delicately. We wanted to do this differently. But know this, Vincent is who I live for. I will protect him and make a place for his loved ones in our lives. Ms. Saxl, Jenn, rejecting them will hurt them deeply and yourself as well.”
Jenn sank onto a free space on the sofa and began to cry softly. Vincent pulled away from me to kneel in front of her.
“I’m sorry, Jenn,” he whispered. His voice was hoarse from shouting. “I knew how you felt, but it was hard to say anything. I’m lousy at this stuff...and I didn’t want to hurt you. That’s the last thing I wanted.”
“Good job, genius,” she quipped between sniffs.
She was quiet for a moment. “At least you’re back to normal – temper and all.”
Vincent chuckled. “I’m sure Rik is thrilled to see that.”
I snorted and went back to filling boxes.
“I’m sorry, too,” Jenn said. “I just saw Bobby’s empty room and realized you’d both be gone. I freaked and now...I’ve outted you to the squad.”
Vincent shrugged. “It was going to be all over Central command by this afternoon when the Generals get our retirement letter.”
“And we weren’t planning to hide it,” I added easily.
Jenn relaxed for a few seconds, and then she flushed bright red. “Oh God. We were yelling about Bobby manifesting. He won’t be safe!”
“He’s fine. That school is locked up tighter than a bank vault,” Vincent said. “And we dropped off the guardianship paperwork with them. Nobody can pick him up but us.”
“Besides, if I know my Lieutenant, the squad didn’t hear most of that,” I said, opening the door.
As I expected, Remak was alone in the bullpen.
“Thank you, Ouida,” I said.
“Not at all, sir. If I may, Miss Saxl and I would like to go to lunch,” she said.
Jenn looked up then smiled. “Yes, I would like that.”
“Will you come see as at home?” Vincent asked. There was a plea in his voice.
“Yes...yes, I will,” she said softly. “Bye, Vincent...Colonel.”
I shut the door, and found I had Vincent in my arms. His head tilted back and his lips parted. I couldn’t help but kiss him deeply and slowly. He clung to me humming his pleasure.
“Thank you for protecting me,” I whispered above his lips.
“I live for you, too,” he murmured, kissing me again. It was a sweet, tender kiss. “I want to go home. We should be napping or something.”
“I want that, too...especially the or something,” I replied with a smile. “But we have to get your brother and his furniture.”
“Let’s have an expensive lunch then,” he sighed.
I suppose it’s the dichotomy of a physically strong yet emotionally vulnerable men (who happen to be gorgeous that’s so appealing). I get to arrange a lot of comforting and protecting between them. Fortunately, the novel is doing very well. I’ll likely do a sequel. That makes me happy, but I really do have to let them go for the moment and be a film maker and a publisher for a while. Once we’ve moved, that is.