The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Thirty Two

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[ CW: strong language, sexual content ]

Marina’s big house was fairly quiet for the rest of the day, especially considering how many people were in it. The party spent most of the afternoon napping and getting cleaned up.

Some time after three o’clock, Em jolted awake and glanced groggily around the room until she remembered where she was. It came back to her slowly: the memory of crawling along the couch and flopping down onto her stomach between May’s splayed legs. May had been lounging there, reading the computer reference book Marina had loaned her; Em fell asleep with her arms wrapped around May’s middle and her face resting on her stomach as it rose and fell with each gentle breath May took.

“How long was I asleep?” Em asked. She peered up at May, who lifted the book she was still reading to peek back at her.

“Not sure,” May admitted. “Maybe an hour?”

Connor strode into the room carrying a basket full of fresh laundry.

“Do you guys mind if I fold in here?” he asked. “Rue’s sleeping upstairs.”

“Knock yourself out,” Em replied with a yawn, snuggling back down onto May who set the book aside and began combing her fingers lightly through Em’s hair.

Connor was almost finished his chore when a sleepy-eyed Rue wandered downstairs.

“Feeling better, love?” he asked when she walked up for a quick kiss and to survey his progress.

“Much better.” She smiled warmly.

Marina breezed into the room and grinned when she saw them. “Everyone’s surfacing! Who’s up for a drink or two?”

Without waiting for a response she unlocked a magnificent liquor cabinet and pulled out glasses. She then went to retrieve wine from the kitchen as everyone made their drink selection. Before striding back into the room she called up the stairs to the stragglers. “We’re getting drunk without you!”

Soon Jeremy and Priva joined them. They were disheveled, but it didn’t appear to have been from sleep. Em and May exchanged knowing looks when the pair passed them on their way to make their drinks, but they kept their teasing remarks to themselves.

“Oh, man.” Marina sighed happily, settling back with a very full glass of wine. “I can’t remember the last time I got drunk. I think I’m overdue.”

“We’re not getting drunk,” Connor laughed. “But don’t let us stop you.”

“For those prepared to party,” Em raised her glass of whiskey to Marina. “We salute you.”

They all clinked their glasses, a chaotic moment of reaching arms trying to make sure no one was missed, and toasted to being together, regardless of the circumstances.

For everyone but May and Em, the conversation flowed naturally, especially once the alcohol started to lighten the mood in the room. No one wanted to talk about the present and so those who shared a history dipped into the wells of nostalgia. They rehashed memories, retelling increasingly funnier stories until they gasped for breath between their laughter.

May and Em sat on the far end of the couch, edging closer with every sip from their glasses. At first they tried to stay cognisant that Jeremy was right there, regardless of the fact that he hadn’t looked at them once since entering the room. But as the whiskey worked its magic, they seemed to forget that anyone else was in the room. Em coiled an arm around May’s slender waist and nuzzled into the curve of her neck. She planted kiss after kiss – playful in the beginning, then slower and seductive as they worked through their second and third drinks – along May’s jawline and shoulder. Between kisses she’d whisper things in May’s ear that left her crimson-cheeked and giggling.

“One day I’m gonna buy us a big house like this one,” Em told May in a matter-of-fact, whisper-yell. “And you can just spend all day lounging around in fancy lingerie like the fucking queen you are.”

“Shhh, everyone can hear you.” May grinned and kissed Em to silence her.

Em replied by mumbling something against May’s lips that sounded a bit like, “I worship you.”

The only sign that Jeremy heard any of this was the subtle bouncing of his knee.

It wasn’t long after that May excused herself, slipping upstairs to use the washroom.


Jeremy didn’t realize Em had crept away too until he rose to fix another drink and found her missing. Squaring his jaw, he tried to focus on the promises he had made; one to Rue to try harder to be pleasant to the girls, made in the throes of gratitude that came with having survived his beating in the alley, the other to Priva. That afternoon she had made him promise to stop obsessing over the past – to see her, the one standing right in front of him. He had promised to try and it must have been enough for her; they made love for the first time in ages.

He thought of the sex, imagining the feeling of Priva’s silky skin under his and the look on her face as he moved between her thighs. Her moans of pleasure, her nails digging into his shoulders, the genuine happiness she radiated as they laid together afterward.

He reached out and took her hand. He could try.

“I know what we’re missing,” Marina announced, sitting up quickly. “Music!”

Priva snapped her fingers. “Didn’t you say Myles plays guitar now?”

“Yes!” Marina pointed at her, clearly into the direction Priva’s train of thought was headed. “It’s in his room!”

Priva looked to Jeremy expectedly. “Go get it, boo! Play for us!”

Jeremy blinked up at Marina. “Where’s his room?”

“Third floor. First door on your left.”

Without arguing – he was trying to be better, after all – he got to his feet and made for the stairs. He hadn’t realized just how much he’d had to drink until standing; his head swam with the early stages of his buzz.

As he stepped onto the second floor, Jeremy paused. To his right the staircase continued upwards. But to his left he saw the bathroom, open and dark. Across the hall was Em and May’s room, the door open just a crack. Everything was quiet.

That’s weird, he thought with a frown. He had been sure they had sneaked up here to fuck. A slight flurry of concern rose in his stomach.

Against his better judgement, he tiptoed toward the room. Perhaps they had simply passed out like a couple of lightweights. But what if they weren’t in there? He tried to push down the paranoid voice in his head, honed from years of fighting and fleeing, that screamed something might be wrong.

He held his breath as he peered through the miniscule opening in the door. From there he could see the bed, made and empty.

A sudden rush of movement took him by surprise as a pair of bodies tumbled into his line of vision from somewhere hidden by the door. Jeremy had to bite his bottom lip to keep from gasping out loud.

A tangle of peaches and cream; May had pushed Em up against the wall, kissing her fiercely. Their shirts had already been discarded, their hands were everywhere.

To Jeremy, the world seemed to fall away. He stood, paralyzed; knowing he needed to walk away but helpless to do so.

May dragged her teeth lightly against the tender flesh of Em’s throat. Head back, Em welcomed May’s assault with a breathy moan.

Kisses were peppered across Em’s collarbone as May groped under her lover’s bra with one hand and worked the button of her jeans with the other.

Get out of here, Jeremy’s brain shouted at him.

But he couldn’t. He was transfixed by the ecstacy on Em’s face as May’s hand plunged down the front of her pants and pressed into her warmth.

He knew that look, he remembered it perfectly. Her quiet noises of passion were exactly the same.

All at once, memories of when he was the one in May’s place came back to him like a crashing wave.

It didn’t matter what she looked like or what she called herself: Jeremy knew Audrey when he saw her.

At last he was able to tear himself away from the door. He staggered to the staircase and heaved a few deep and rocky breaths.

Go upstairs, he coached himself. Get the guitar. Go downstairs. Figure your shit out.

From down the hall, Em cried out softly.

Figure your shit out.


By the time the girls slunk back downstairs, the sitting room was filled with the sound of guitar strings and drunken singing.

“Welcome back, ladies,” Priva announced loudly, drawing everyone’s attention to the blushing pair as they slid back into their spot on the couch.

“Look,” May laughed, trying to come up with an excuse and failing.

“Listen,” Em said, with just as much success.

From his chair, Jeremy fiddled with the guitar pegs, adjusting the tuning. He didn’t look up as he launched into another song.

The notes were familiar. May recognized it as the song she and Em had performed at the flat in Luxton; the first song she learned to play herself.

“Hey!” She turned to Em, smiling. “It’s the song you’re always singing!”

But Em didn’t answer. She wasn’t smiling either.

Instead her gaze was fixed on Jeremy’s hands as they danced over the strings.

“Wait,” Em muttered, squinting. “How do you…”

Her eyes grew wide. “Oh, fuck.”

“What’s wrong?” Connor asked, glancing between Em and Jeremy.

“Imagine how surprised I was when you two started playing this song,” Jeremy said, his eyes still trained on his instrument as he finished the melody. “This, the song I wrote for Audrey.”

The final note reverberated itself into silence. No one spoke.

“She’s the only person I ever played it for.” Now he looked up. His eyes were cold.

“Isn’t that interesting?”

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The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Nineteen

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“We need to lay low and travel carefully,” Connor had instructed. “If the Loyals learn we’ve found you before we’re ready to stage the handover then we’re screwed.”

According to WIND, the Loyals had informants everywhere. To avoid rousing suspicion from potentially prying eyes, the group would have to leave as faint a trail as possible. No travel that required identification; cash only, aliases as much as necessary. May and Em didn’t mind – they were familiar with the best practices of runaways by now.

No one cared who you were when you took the bus, and travelling by dark was a good way to keep a low cover, which was how the group found themselves riding a night bus headed east. May and Em sat away from the others, as they would whenever they were in public. May was grateful for the many hours that lay between them and their next destination; she felt like she could breathe for the first time since climbing out of Dom’s truck.

She leaned into Em, her legs curled up beneath her. She was supposed to be sleeping, but with the space to breathe had also come the stillness her mind had been waiting for. It took advantage of the silence and filled it with a barrage of worries.

Beside her, Em fidgeted.

“Can’t sleep either?” she whispered, her voice just audible over the monotonous din of the bus.

Em gave an affirmative grunt.

Glancing up, May watched Em toy with a lock of dark hair. In their hasty packing, Em had the foresight to take one of her stage wigs – the long black one she used for their Moon and Ocean routine. May had trimmed it to a reasonable length and tucked her own hair beneath Em’s old ball cap. It wasn’t much as far as disguises went, but it was certainly better than nothing.

“On a scale from one to ten, how goth do I look in this thing?” Em asked, gesturing at the wig with a dramatic flourish.

May chuckled. “Ten. Very witchy.”

“Ooh, witchy. I can get into that.” Em wrapped her arms around May and let her cheek rest atop May’s head. “How are you holding up?”

Chewing her lower lip, May debated whether she should share the latest addition to her growing list of concerns. She hadn’t had the chance to tell Em what happened with Jeremy back at the motel.

Em broke her train of thought with a squeeze. “Babe? What’s on your mind?”

May sighed and decided to go for it.

“When we were back at the motel, Jeremy pulled me aside and told me he wouldn’t put up with me slowing things down.”

Em snorted. “Classic Jeremy.”

“He said he wouldn’t let me ‘get in the way’.”

“He doesn’t know you’re a Wish,” Em said, shrugging lightly. “He, Connor, and Priva have their abilities; him and his perfect memory, Connor and his super-Wish strength… have I ever told you that Priva only needs like, a handful of hours of sleep per week? And I mean, Rue may not be a Wish but even she has experience resisting the Loyals. Jeremy probably thinks you’re just an ordinary human, and if that were true, he wouldn’t be wrong in thinking you were in over your head.”

“Interesting,” May bristled. “That wasn’t what I thought he was implying at all.”

Em stared down at her quizzically before she clued in.

“Ah, you think this is about Audrey.”

“Can you blame me?” May tried to keep her voice down. “Ever since you told me the two of you were engaged I haven’t been able to-”

She was cut off by Em shifting out from beneath her. Righting herself, May twisted in her seat to see Em sitting pin straight and frowning at her in the flickering shadows.

I was never engaged to him, May,” she spoke tersely, her words simultaneously hurt and offended.

May’s heart dropped. “I’m sorry. I meant-”

Em grabbed May’s hands and held them tightly.

“Babe, I need you to believe me when I tell you that Audrey and I are different people.” Her intensity was impossible to miss, even as she whispered. “Please, tell me you understand.”

“You can’t blame me for being confused,” May hissed, the fear and frustration she had been suppressing bursting the holds of her patience. “I still don’t even understand why Jeremy expected you to be her. These are her friends – people who loved her. And here you are asking me to keep this all straight as if it made any rational sense to begin with.”

Sighing, Em sat back and took a moment for both their sakes. It was difficult to see her in the darkness but May didn’t need her eyes to know Em was studying her carefully.

“You’re right,” Em agreed at last. “I’ve been asking you to suspend your disbelief without giving you much reason too.”

May shook her head. “I’m not asking for you to placate me, Em – I’m asking you to help me understand. Please?”

Leaning back against the window, Em hummed thoughtfully. She gestured for May to join her, and she did, nestling into her as best she could across the uncomfortable bus seats.

“Where do you want to start?” Em mused, lacing her fingers with May’s.

“Tell me why Jeremy thought you would be Audrey,” May replied. She remembered the tattered security photo he had shown her when he first stormed into her life. “Do you look like her?”

Em chuckled softly. “Not really. Audrey wasn’t a ghost like me. She had her mother’s super thick, brown hair and this warm, honey brown skin that I’m guessing came from Welkin, like her eyes.”

“Her eyes?” May asked, peering up at Em and trying to imagine her painted in Audrey’s pallet.

“Gold,” Em answered. “Just like the Stars.”

May mulled this over, curiosity tugging at the corner of her mind.

Em continued. “She was a bit shorter than I am. Smaller in generally, actually. It’s like when Welkin built this new body for me they made everything about it… more. Bigger. Stronger. It’s as if they thought…”

She trailed off. Her expression was distant.

“As if they thought making you stronger might keep you safe,” May finished. Em’s physical strength had never escaped May’s notice – even now she could feel the firmness of her body beneath her own. She could imagine Welkin – like any parent – wanting to do whatever possible to protect their child, especially after what happened to her.

“Yeah,” Em breathed.

May swore she could feel the fissure Welkin’s disappearance left in Em’s heart widen from where she lay against her.

“So what was it then?” she asked, trying to pull Em back from the edge of despair. “What tipped Jeremy off?”

Beneath her, Em squirmed with unease.

“My abilities,” Em explained. “All Wishes have a distinctive natural advantage; like you and the way you can master virtually anything with only a little bit of study. But the things I can do – the levitation and manipulation of energy – only a Starborn can do that.”

“A Starborn? Are there more like you; people who were parented by a Star?”

Em shook her head. “Not anymore. We were a bit more common thousands of years ago but that’s it.”

Fear settled over May. She sat up and looked at Em in a panic. “If that’s the case then they all know. How could they not?”

“Babe, people don’t come back from the dead.” Em’s voice was calm and steady. “What Welkin did for me is unheard of. Jeremy might be holding out hope, but the others are probably looking for the logical answer. They likely think I’m another Starborn, just like the Loyals do. Our job is to come up with a convincing story and stick to it, okay?”

May toyed with her ring, her anxiety relentless despite Em’s self-assured tone. “Okay. So you’re a Starborn. We’ve never heard of Audrey or Welkin.”

“Right.” Em cupped May’s cheek. “Just another secret love-child between a Star and some earthly creature. Maybe we can tell them I’m half-elvish. That could be fun.”

“Sure,” May laughed weakly, trying to shrug off her apprehension.

In the darkness, Em kissed her; soft, slow, intoxicating.

“It’s going to be okay, my love,” she whispered against her lips. “Trust me.”

May swallowed and nodded, breathless.

With a gentle tug, Em pulled May back against her, wrapping her in her arms and offering her body as a makeshift bed. “Let’s try to get some sleep, okay?”


It took only a moment for Em to drift off, the rhythm of her breath joining the concert of bus noise.

For May it would still be some time before sleep took her.

She could say she was okay as much as she liked.

She felt anything but.

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Ko-Fi May

Off Pitch Hype Train: Just Visiting

Check it out! It’s the first ever guest post on my blog! Today is cover reveal day for my amazing friend, Brianna! Check out the details on her debut f/f new adult contemporary romance (and see how you can win a copy!) below!


Hello all! Thank you for having me here, and thank you so much to Maggie for helping me kick off my first ever cover reveal and giveaway!

Let me introduce myself. My name is Brianna Kienitz and I’m the author of f/f new adult contemporary romance, Off Pitch, available from Ninestar Press beginning October 9th. This novel is the first of two in the Pitch Prodigies series. It follows Northwestern University’s soccer star, Adeline Fahey, as she encounters a roadblock in her life plane in the form of Gabriella Soto, an equally driven cello prodigy, and the TA in Addie’s Spanish class.

I could babble on and on all day about my upcoming novel, but I’d like to share a few fun tidbits with you. But first, how about a cover reveal? Here it is, my beautiful cover from the very talented Natasha Snow!

Now that your eyeballs are filled with that awesomeness, I want to tell you a little bit about the T-rex. If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed a plethora of T-rex’s. But why? I didn’t choose the T-rex brand, it chose me. The T-rex costume plays a relatively small, albeit hilarious, part in Off Pitch. When I started pitching this story on Twitter, it became clear that the T-rex costume was garnering a lot of attention. I latched onto it and ran with it. I like to think that the T-rex played a large part in acquiring my publishing deal with Ninestar Press.

With that in mind, I present the official Off Pitch sticker!

I will be sending a sticker with every signed copy of the book, handing them out at events, and sticking them to every available surface.

Up next I’d like to share a little bit about our lesbian lovers. Maggie was kind enough to gift me with beautiful fanart of these lovely ladies, and I’ve been googly-eyed over it all day.

On the left, we have Adeline Fahey. She’s a 20-year-old bio-mechanical engineering major at Northwestern University. Her parents are Irish immigrants of the affluent variety (a touchy subject for Addie). Most importantly, she is Northwestern’s soccer star and an aspiring soccer professional. Bio-mechanical engineering is her backup.

Fun fact: Adeline’s last name is a version of my Irish surname.

On the right, you guessed it, Gabriella Soto, a graduate cellist and the smoking hot teaching assistant in Adeline’s Spanish class. Originally from Spain, she’s studying abroad on a full scholarship. Her parents are much less affluent than Addie’s, but she is quickly becoming the darling of Chicago’s classical music scene.

Fun fact: The cello is not the only thing she plays well.

Anyways, that’s it for this blog post. Don’t forget to comment Team Soccer, Team Cello, or Team T-rex, and then head on over to Rafflecopter to claim an extra entry to the Off Pitch Cover Reveal giveaway. If you haven’t already, you can head over to my blog for another entry, and visit my Facebook and follow me on Twitter for even more entries and to stay up to date on the latest Off Pitch news!

Off Pitch is available for pre-order from Ninestar Press starting today, so if giveaways aren’t your thing you can head over there to reserve your paperback or e-copy!

Finally, another thank you to Maggie Derrick for co-hosting this cover reveal with me. Be sure to follow her blog, and stalk her on Twitter and Facebook, and consider snagging an art commission with her while you’re at it. Happy trails!

Indie Review – Team Phison

Genre: contemporary romance
Rep: gay, bisexual, lesbian, trans
Content Warnings: strong language, alcohol, family issues, NSFW scenes

A free copy of this publication was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

Official blurb:

For 55-year-old Phil Hutton, finding a new boyfriend is tough, especially since he’s still hurting from his ex leaving him for a younger man. Online dating has been a soul-crushing experience for the restaurant owner. Too many meat-haters interested in microbreweries or something called geocaching. His matches in the multiplayer for his favorite video game have been equally sucky too.

One night, he encounters a newbie who is so helpless, Phil can’t help showing him the ropes. It doesn’t take long for Phil to become interested in his enthusiastic teammate. 28-year-old Tyson Falls from Georgia loves working as a server in a rinky pizza joint and sees the best in everything. As Phil’s online dating matches get worse and his in-game matches with Tyson get better, he finds himself wanting to pursue the easygoing chatterbox with a thick, sexy drawl.

But Phil can’t get past the fear that Tyson couldn’t possibly want a fossil like him. If his brain doesn’t stop being so damn insecure, it might be game over for his heart.

My thoughts:

I’m going to be super honest here: an age-gap m/m romance isn’t something I would have picked up on my own. That said, after reading Team Phison I’m really glad I requested an ARC because it was wonderful. This charming novella had me hooked, thinking about it when I wasn’t reading it and reaching for it during snatched, quiet moments throughout the day so I could keep reading. It’s been a while since a book has captured my attention like that!

What works well:

Chace’s writing is the kind I just love to sink into; her prose was as enjoyable as the story itself. Phil is so well rounded that I felt like a fly on the wall of his life. There’s a ton of great LGBT+ representation throughout the story and the overall concept was unique and well-executed.

What doesn’t work well:

Honestly? I don’t think I have a single criticism for this one! I enjoyed it, I thought it was well-written, and I might just read it again!

Purchase this title on:


The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Eleven

[ Start at the Beginning| Previous Chapter| Next Chapter ]

Content Warning: Strong language

For a heartbeat no one spoke.

Em’s wide eyes, filled with surprise, flickered from one face to the next, her grip tightening reflexively around May’s shoulder.

“Dom, what the fuck?” she demanded. She looked ready to run or fight, whichever was necessary first.

Holding his palms up in surrender, Dom kept his focus locked on her. He could sense her mix of fear and anger from where he stood. A part of him wanted to bridge that gap, to coax her down to a peaceful place with a compassionate touch. He knew her well enough to stay back. His heart ached, reflecting on how he had hoped his first reunion with these friends would go; so different from the scenario he found himself in now.

“Please, Em,” he begged. “These people need your help. You’ve got to know I wouldn’t have lead them to you if I didn’t believe that.”

And that was the problem – Em did know Dom believed he was doing the right thing. He was so good, and helping people was in his nature. For the first time she regretted not being more honest with him, for waiting so long to tell him her truth in what wound up being just a hastily abridged version anyway. She didn’t know what these people told him but there was no way he could have realized just how far away from them she had hoped to stay. For that she had no one to blame but herself.

Despite having tried to avoid it, Em eventually let herself look at the man gaping at her from the centre of the room. His dark eyes were troubled beneath a mess of unruly red hair, his expression that of someone who had just been slapped – hard. His companions glanced uncomfortably between him and Em, none of them speaking until the blond man with sad green eyes cleared his throat.

“We aren’t here to hurt you,” he said, his voice gentle and low. “But he’s right, we need your help. We’ve been trying to find you for a long time and we hope you’ll hear us out.”

Em licked her lips and let out a shaky exhale. It took her a moment to reply.

“Why us? Why me?”

The man opened his mouth to answer but it was his redheaded friend that stepped forward.

“It’s a long story, so we should probably start from the beginning.” He offered his hand for her to shake. He didn’t smile. “My name is Jeremy.”

May let out a barely audible gasp, flinching imperceptibly to everyone but Em, whose arm was still draped protectively around her. Instead of acknowledging May’s surprise, Em took Jeremy’s hand and gave it a single, firm shake.


The moment between the two seem to hang, but around them their friends exchanged wide-eyed glances. Everyone was tense.

At last Jeremy pulled back his hand and gestured to his companions.

“This is Connor,” he said of his blond friend. “His wife, Rue. And that’s Priva.”

Jeremy watched Em’s face carefully as he spoke, looking for something he didn’t seem to find as she nodded curtly in turn from Connor, to the golden-eyed Rue, and finally at Priva, who at least gave a slight wave back. In response, Jeremy frowned deeper and looked away, missing the way Em’s knuckles faded to white as she gripped at the loose edges of May’s shirt – the only hint she was reeling.

Another deep breath. Em slid her hand – clammy with nerves – to the small of May’s back and rolled her shoulders so she stood a little taller.

“I see you’ve already met my girlfriend, May.”

A person would have to be dead to miss the shockwave that shot through the room. May forced a small smile and resisted the urge to press tighter into the protection of Em’s side. She wasn’t sure what had happened but she knew the mood had gone from bad to worse. With anxiety swelling inside her she watched as Connor, Rue, and Priva glanced at one another but said nothing. Between them, May could see Dom holding his breath.

Jeremy remained locked on Em, his jaw tight and his expression stiff.

“It’s nice to meet you both,” he said at last, turning away as he did so.

May met Em’s eyes.

She wondered if Em could tell he was lying, too.

[ Next Chapter ]

The Wind and the Horizon: Chapter Nine

[ Start at the Beginning | Previous Chapter | Next Chapter ]

The wait was almost too much.

As soon as the show ended, Dom, Jeremy, and the rest hurried through the crowd and hunted for the usher who had shown them to their seats.

“I’m afraid Lenore won’t be available for a while yet,” she told them. Her voice was sympathetic but her answer was infuriating. “She’s one of the performers, you see. They don’t take any guests until after the rest of the audience has left and they’ve had a chance to freshen up. I’m sure you understand.”

Jeremy elbowed his way in between Dom and the usher.

“What about the dancers from the Moon and Ocean act?” he asked, sounding breathless. “They’re the ones we’re actually looking for.”

Dom couldn’t suppress his groan as he watched the usher’s expression fall. Just like the boy at the ticket wicket, she took a moment to think before answering.

“You’ll still need to talk to Lenore first,” she said at last. “How about you just wait in the stands? Someone will come find you when she’s ready.”

Before anyone could argue to the contrary, the usher turned and disappeared into the slow exodus of patrons making their way out of the tent. The chatter in the air was still excited as people rehashed their favourite moments from the show – eyes alight with the magic they felt they had witnessed – but for Dom and the others excitement had given way to anxious tension.

They did as the usher suggested and returned to the stands to wait. Dom made a point of sitting off on his own, hoping to avoid Jeremy and his questions. But Jeremy kept to himself as well, pacing along a row of seats with a furrowed expression while his friends whispered to each other in low, hurried voices.

“Who the fuck is this Lenore person and why do we have to go through her anyway?” Jeremy growled, throwing his hands up after what must have been more than an hour of waiting. The tent seemed quiet now and it was hard not to feel as though they had been forgotten. “We’re wasting-”

“I’m the leader of this outfit,” boomed a voice from the entryway through which they had come. “And no one gets to my performers without going through me first.”

Lenore – a woman who appeared to be in her mid-fifties with close cropped greying hair – strode toward them with an unmistakable air of authority. She paused a handful of paces away from the group and scrutinized each of them one by one.

“Now what’s this I hear about you asking after my girls?” she barked. At this distance, Dom noticed her reptilian-esque eyes and the bony protrusions that jutted out from the peaks of her cheekbones and crown of her forehead. He recognized her from the show as the performer who had danced with fire, and he made a mental note that anyone who could make flames look like well-trained animals was not one to be tested.

“Ma’am, my name is Dominic,” he began, stepping up and turning on what had often been described as his most disarmingly charming smile. “The performers we’re looking for are friends and former colleagues of mine. We were really hoping to see them.”

With a harsh laugh, Lenore shook her head. “I don’t think so, buddy.”

Dom pushed onward, careful not to let Jeremy sneak a word in edgewise.

“Please, we’ve come a really long way.” He hesitated. He didn’t want to lie for fear of being found out, but… “They sent me an invitation to watch them perform.”

Lenore still wasn’t buying it.

“They didn’t say anything to me about it, which means you’re probably full of shit.”

Exasperating as it was, Dom was grateful for Lenore’s steadfast gatekeeping; at least it wouldn’t have been easy for anyone of ill-intent to get close to the girls.

The others didn’t see it the same way. In a flurry of voices they came at Lenore as one, talking and shouting over one another with questions and demands. Lenore opened her mouth and Dom knew at once they had blown it – she was going to toss them out – when a new voice cut through the noise.

“Dom? Is that you?”

The chatter ceased. In unison, every head turned to the closest entrance, where a pair of faces peeked back at them. One belonged to the boy from the wicket. The other was that of a rosy-haired woman with dark blue eyes and constellations of freckles splashed across her face. An elated smile lit up her features.

“Maybe!” Dom cried, opening his arms to catch her as she tore out into the open and lept up to greet him. “Look at you – your hair’s gotten so long!”

Scrubbed free of her stage make-up, May Alana was positively glowing. Dom marvelled at what time on the road had done to her: not only had her soft waves grown long and wild, tumbling over her shoulders, but even under loose studio clothes he could tell how much stronger she was. He could feel the firm muscles that wound up her arms and down her back as he crushed her into his embrace. Her skin had lost its sun-kissed island radiance but she still looked happy and healthy.

“I can’t believe you’re here!” May squeaked, taking a step back to see him better but keeping her fists clutched at his shirt sleeves. “When Bertram said people were here to see us I wasn’t expecting it to be you!”

Over May’s shoulder, Dom watched Lenore throw a stern look at the wicket boy – presumably Bertram – who went scarlet and ducked out of view.

“Is everything okay, Ginger?” Lenore sounded wary. “Do you know them?”

As if in reply, May pulled Dom into another tight hug. She tilted her face until her mouth met his ear.

“Who are these people?” she whispered as quietly as she could.

“I’ll explain later,” Dom murmured back to her. “Who’s Ginger?”

“I am. Just roll with it.”

Pulling back, May beamed. “Yeah, they’re friends. Everything’s okay, Lenore. Thanks for looking out for us though.”

At this Leore actually smiled, relaxing her stance ever so slightly.

“Of course. You know me: family first. Sorry for being hard on you, folks – you can never be too careful in this business. Ginger, honey, will you tell Rosemary to stop leaving her costumes on the dressing room floor? Fool girl doesn’t seem to want to listen to me and I’m about ready to kick her ass.”

May laughed. “Sure thing, Dragon Mama. We’ll go find her right now.”

She took Dom by the hand and lead him to the exit, motioning for the others to follow. When he was sure Lenore was well out of earshot, Dom ducked his head and whispered.

“Is this Rosemary who I think she is?”

A grin cut across May’s face as she winked.

“You’ll have to wait and see.”

[ Next Chapter ]

Ko-Fi May

What I Read on Vacation

Last month I spent a couple of weeks in Maui. After a really stressful and chaotic year, it was really nice to have some time that I could dedicate to getting back  to the things I love in a beautiful place. I did a lot of writing, including finishing the first draft of The Witch’s Patron and chapter 46 through 53 of The Star and the Ocean. The beach is good for the ol’ creative muscles.

The beach is also good for reading, of which I did also quite a bit of! I thought it might be fun to do a quick run down of the titles I finished while I was on vacay.

#1: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

I technically started this one at home but flew through the second half on a beach chair in Wailea. Ari & Dante is widely considered to be the required reading of LGBTQ+ YA and it did not disappoint. Thought-provoking and moving, this story deals with coming out, coming of age, race, family, and friendship. It won’t necessarily break your heart but it will give you a lot of feelings.

#2: All The Rage

I snagged Kindle edition of this Courtney Summers title when it went on sale knowing very little about it up front. All I really knew was I had come to follow Courtney on Twitter and wanted to check out her stuff. For anyone thinking of picking up All The Rage, understand that it comes with a very serious content warning for rape. All The Rage is heavy and unapologetic but in a way that respects the main character’s journey and that also feels very necessary. This one made me think a lot about bodily autonomy, who we are in relation to the things have happened for us, and whether or not the kids are alright (it also gave me some good food for thought regarding May and her story in TSATO).

#4: All Our Pretty Songs

Last year I read Sarah McCarry’s About a Girl because of its f/f pairing. What I didn’t realize was that it was actually the last book in a trilogy – womp, womp. I loved it though, so I decided to start at the beginning. I would happily drown in McCarry’s writing until the end of time. I’m obsessed with the romantically dark and gritty world of Aurora, Jack, and our nameless main character. All Our Pretty Songs is perfect for fans of Francesca Lia Block.

#5: Station Eleven

Another one I technically started before vacation, I picked Station Eleven up in an airport once, read a quarter of it, and then got distracted by other things. I’m glad I went back to this one though. Despite it being a nightmare scenario to me, I love stories about survival in a post-apocalyptic world. This one is all at once dark and hopeful and I appreciated the non-linear story. The way the different character’s stories weave together is masterful and I loved the idea of art surviving the end of the world.

#6: Wet Nails

I need more short stories like this in my life! Light and affirming, Wet Nails has some of my favourite things: women, sex, and Old Hollywood! I love the fantastical plot, the thoughtful conversations, and (of course) the sex. Bi representation at its best! Also shout-out to Shira for including a bunch of related recommendations at the end of the book!

#7: Off Pitch

While technically not finished, my friend Brianna won NaNoWriMo last year with this fun f/f romance. Cute and sexy, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to compliment the fluff, smut, and drama. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be cheering for Addie and Gabby right from the start!

It Would Have Meant Everything: Why Bisexual Representation Matters in the Eyes of Someone Who Had to Go Without

The following is an essay I wrote for submission in a Bi-Awareness Week series on another blog but, seeing as it wasn’t selected, I didn’t want it to go to waste! Happy Bisexual Awareness Day to all of my fellow bi guys, gals, and non-binary pals. Love you ❤

I graduated from high school over 10 years ago. It’s been more than a decade, and yet I still have this one particular memory from that time that plays regularly in my mind.

I’ll set the scene for you: a small group of my friends and I were loitering in the hall at lunch break, when another member of our clique rushed up to join us. He leaned in, out of breath and with a conspiratory look in his eyes, he whisper-yelled to us, “Dan* just told me he’s bisexual.”

As a collective, we all ooh’d knowingly.

“Well, we all know what that means,” I said, and my peers nodded.

It meant that Dan, regardless of what he told anyone, was gay.

This was a fact accepted without question, because to us – teenagers in a Catholic high school of maybe 600 students – a person claiming to be “bisexual” could only mean one of three things:

  1. The person was actually gay and was just using the term bisexual to ease into fully coming out.
  2. The person was just “going through a phase”, or
  3. The person was just trying to get attention.

It would be many, many years before I would eventually come to terms with my own bisexuality. Whenever I think or talk about the fact that it took me until my late twenties to appreciate this part of myself, I think back to that conversation in the halls of my high school and I reflect on it with mixed feelings.

One of those those feelings is disgust: disgust that I not only believed those ridiculous fallacies but that I also openly helped to perpetuate them.

But before I can beat myself up too much about being part of the problem, I always stop to remind myself of why my peers and I held those misconceptions up as absolutes. Why, at a time in our lives when someone being openly gay or lesbian didn’t make us so much as bat an eye, were we so quick to dismiss the very existence of bisexuality?

The truth is (non-existent sexual education in our religious school system aside) our naive young minds really didn’t have much else to go on, did we? When I think back to the television shows, music, and books my peers and I were consuming at the time, I don’t recall seeing myself reflected in any of them. I might be able to drag up characters demonized as promiscuous or disloyal, or perhaps more still, a character that did what they wanted under the guise of not wanting to bear a label.

But could I name a character I recall growing up with who was confident enough in their sexuality to actually use the “b word” and be the hero of their own narrative?

Not a chance.

Oh, and for those keeping score at home: we wound up being right about Dan.

So, what were we supposed to think?

What was I supposed to think when I knew that I had feelings for women that were the same – nay, stronger – than the feelings I had for men? I knew I wasn’t a lesbian, so why was I having fantasies about other women? I sure as hell didn’t want people to know, so it couldn’t have been for attention. And, if it was just a phase, it sure was dragging on for a inconveniently long time.

Bisexuality wasn’t an option for me because I had no idea what bisexuality actually looked like. I, like so many teenagers, relied on the pictures painted for me by the media I consumed and, as is so often the case, they let me down. I spent most of my young life defaulting to the concept of “girl crushes” and using the cringe-worthy excuse of “I’m comfortable enough with my own sexuality to be able to admit that she’s hot” to justify my feelings. I spent so much time feeling out of place with heteronormative culture without ever being able to pin down exactly why.

It’s a strange coincidence that I eventually found myself in a piece of today’s queer-positive media created with young people in mind. After watching so many episodes of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe normalize different types of love and gender expression, it was one scene – a dance between two female coded characters – that finally kicked a hole in the wall of my mind. It felt like the repressed part of my brain came striding in through the rift that scene left behind and screamed, “YOU KNOW, I THINK IT’S TIME YOU ACCEPTED THE FACT THAT YOU’RE A RAGING BISEXUAL.”

In the months that came after my animated sexual reawakening I felt elated, I felt complete, and I felt angry. Angry because it had taken almost 30 years for me to embrace something so simple and true. Would the answer have come to me sooner if I’d had the kind of positive representation that seems to be becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s young media?

I mean, it’s impossible to know for sure. But if I had to give you an answer it would be, yes. Absolutely and unequivocally, yes.

I knew I could spend the rest of my life being bitter about the years I missed out of living honestly. But the fact is, none of us can change the past. All we can do is look forward and do our best to make sure that we make things even easier for those who come after us.

But what would my contribution be?

If it was positive bisexual representation in media I felt I was missing when I was growing up, then I wanted to find a way to help fill the gap. I weighed my options: I can’t act, I don’t sing, and I’m a mediocre artists at best. But my writing is alright, and I love to tell stories, so I made it my pet project to write and share tales that focus on the lives and adventures of queer – especially bisexual – characters.

I haven’t been at this for long, but I can say that I’ve enjoyed every minute of the process. Part of that process has included reading up on other LGBT fiction in the name of research and, if I’m being honest, having some truly relatable books on my shelves for the first time in my life. As has always been my modus operandi, I found myself gravitating to YA offerings, and have since fallen in love with what I now consider to be some of my favourite titles of all time.

I think now about the first book I read in which a character uses the “b-word” in a way that is normal and not at all damning; Tess Sharpe’s “Far From You”. I read it only a couple of months ago and, at 31 years of age, it was the first time I felt like I saw myself in a book. I cried throughout – often at parts that weren’t intended to be sad – because I couldn’t believe how real it made me feel.

When I finished it, I couldn’t help but ask myself: what would it have meant to me to have had this book when I was 15?

It’s impossible to know for sure. But if I had to give you an answer it would be, everything.

So, now I’m trying to add my voice into the mix. I’m writing my own stories and I’m encouraging others to do the same. And all the while, I’m watching my stack of LGBT YA novels grow.

These days I live in a town of 5,000 people and our high school is home to the only GSA in the entire school district (a fact that makes us both very proud and very sad). I think I’m going to find out if they’d be interested in adopting the titles I’ve finished reading. I’ve never been one to give away books easily, but if even one of them could let bi kids see themselves and spare them from having to spend any time wondering, it would be worth it. After all, if it had been me in their shoes, it would have meant everything.
*Names have been changed.

The Star and the Ocean – Chapter Sixteen

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The Star and the Ocean underwent structural revisions in September 2016. This particular chapter can now be found as the new chapters 31 and 32. I highly encourage you to read from these new chapters instead!

Chapter Sixteen – Try to understand

“I can picture it.” Em’s eyes were closed and she was sitting cross-legged on the deck. “You surrounded by all these little kids in leotards. It’s fucking adorable.”

From behind her, May giggled. Legs hanging over the edge of the hammock, she played with Em’s long hair while the two of them enjoyed the morning sunshine.

“I think it would be fun,” May said, deftly twisting the strands into an elaborate braid. “I love kids and I love to dance. Teaching seems like the best of both worlds. But who knows. There’s a lot I’d like to try.”

Em tilted her head back to look up at May. “Do you-”

“Don’t move your head.”

“Sorry.” She dropped it back again. “Do you want kids? Like, in life?”

May leaned down and grinned in Em’s peripheral vision. “Don’t you think it’s a bit premature to be talking about kids? Pass me the elastic.”

“That’s not what I meant!” Em forced a laughed, doing as she was told. She was prepared to joke her way out of the awkward corner she had backed herself into when a sound in the distance caught her attention. “Do you hear that?”

“No.” May looked down the beach. She waited in silence, knowing Em’s hearing was far better than hers. If there was indeed something out there, she would be able to hear it herself soon enough.

Within moments, the rumble of a struggling engine gradually filled the air. May caught sight of a van making its way down the beach like a shimmering mirage in the heat. She squinted through the sunlight.

“It’s Kai.”

“Really?” Em sat up and followed May’s line of sight. “Shit. Should I hide or something?”

May shook her head. “He knows you’re still here. The rest of the family isn’t thrilled but Kai’s pretty laid back.”

Through everything that happened over the years, May’s family had stuck by her. Yes, her parents had been everything from mortified to furious at the height of the scandal, but blood or otherwise, they cared about their children unconditionally. Ora hadn’t spoken to May for months after the truth about her and Mila had come out, but even she had come back around in time, although May nursed the wound of knowing their relationship hadn’t been the same since.

But Kai had always been gentle with her. The pair of them were less than a year apart in age, and had grown up as one another’s closest allies. He believed every word May had told him about what happened – a fact not even their parents could lay claim to. He believed to the point that he had taken matters into his own hands, confronting Kane one evening shortly after the photo had gone public. The confrontation hadn’t ended well for either of them, but May had been touched by his valor nonetheless.

Devotion to her sister aside, Kai was also a good son. He had never been one to defy their parents, a fact May kept in mind as she watched his van roll up and come to park at the base of the tree.

“Yo, Maybe!” Kai called from the sand. “Can I come up?”

“Door’s open!” May shouted back.

Em watched quietly as Kai stepped through the door and called out a hello. Physically he was May’s opposite in virtually every way; tall, broad and dark to her slight and pale. He wore his wavy dark hair to his shoulders, framing his round face and carefree smile like a halo. Just like the first time they met, Em watched that smile falter when he caught sight of her at his sister’s side.

“Oh,” he said, trying to regain his composure. “Hey. How’s it?”

“Pretty great, dude.” Em smiled as warmly as she could. “Good to see you again.”

It was in a quick glance to May for reassurance that Em caught sight of something that made her stomach drop. How either of them managed to forget the fresh bruise blossoming across the side of May’s neck, she did not know. What she did know was that there was no way Kai wasn’t going to see it.

As was typical of most couples in the early stages of newfound intimacy, not a day had passed since that night in the woods where Em and May hadn’t found an opportunity to be close. It took virtually nothing – a sassy comment, a suggestive glance – for them to throw themselves into one another. The bed, the couch, the hammock – it didn’t matter where they were; clothes would vanish and the pair would lose themselves to pleasure. They had grown confident, trusting each other in a way that left May more than happy to explore somewhat new things including rougher, more intense ways of being passionate with Em.

The bruise on her neck was the incriminating evidence of what had been a night of just such exploration. Other parts of May’s body were littered with similar marks left by both kisses and teeth. They had been laughing about it only hours earlier. Now, Em was kicking herself for not thinking of it before Kai walked in.

Unluckily for both of them, the wide-eyed look of terror on Em’s face got Kai’s attention immediately. His eyes looked to where she did, his face twisting the instant he noticed the mark.

May, however, did not pick up on what was going on between Em and her brother right away. She frowned in confusion.

“What are you look-” Her hand touched her neck. “Oh, no.”

Kai’s head snapped to Em, his face transformed by rage.

“What the fuck did you do to my sister?” he bellowed, making both of them jump.

“Shit!” Em scrambled to her feet just as Kai lunged in her direction.

“Kai, NO!” May cried, leaping up from the hammock just in time to plant herself between her brother and Em.

Kai took her by the shoulders, concern etched across his brow. “Did she hurt you, May?”

“What? No!”

“You can tell me,” he pressed, shooting a murderous look at Em over May’s shoulder. “How did you get that bruise?”

The idea of giving her brother an honest answer to that question made May feel sick to her stomach, but she knew he wasn’t the type to back down. “For goodness sake, Kai! It’s a hickie, alright?”

A heavy air of awkwardness settled between the trio. Kai’s face fell as he looked between his sister and Em and back again.

“A…” Slowly he released his hold on May’s shoulders. “Oh, for fucks sake! Are you serious, May? You told mama and papa that’s not what this was about!” He kept his eyes firmly locked on his sister as he gestured wildly at Em.

May looked deflated. “Well, it wasn’t then. But…” She turned to look helplessly at Em, who stepped forward and wordlessly took her hand.

Kai groaned and buried his face in his massive palms. “Maybe, you know I love you and if this…” He raised his face to give a pointed look at Em, who was starting to squirm at being spoken about as if she couldn’t understand what was being said, “If this is who you are, then fine. But is this really the right time? Things were just starting to turn around for you.”

“When is it ever going to be the ‘right time’, Kai?” May asked sharply, her eyes narrowing. “What am I supposed to do? Just wait for everyone to change their minds about me? Is that what needs to happen before I’m allowed to be happy?”

“That’s not what I meant,” Kai grumbled. “What about the rest of the family? You’re not the only one who had to deal with what happened.”

May let out a strangled, incredulous noise, but it was Em who cut in.

“Okay, I’m going to stop you right there.”

“No, you’re not.” Kai stared her down. “This is between family.”

“Right,” she barreled onward, emboldened. “This is you implying that a member of your family – someone I think you care very much about, I might add – should hide who she is and deny herself a chance at being happy just so other people don’t have to feel uncomfortable.”

“It’s not that simple,” he huffed, heat rising behind the rich bronze of his cheeks.

“I’m sure in a lot of ways it isn’t.” She wrapped an arm protectively around May’s shoulder. “But at the same time, it is.”

Kai crossed his arms and eyed the two of them quietly for a moment. He mulled over what Em had said thoughtfully, carefully considering his next move. But May gave a small, hopeful smile and Kai knew it didn’t matter how much he wanted to act stern with her – he wanted to see her happy.

“Please, Kai,” she said softly. “Try to understand.”

“Oh, I doubt I’ll ever really understand,” Kai rubbed his chin absentmindedly. “But if you say you’re happy then you know I’m going to have your back.”

May beamed and opened her mouth to speak, but before she could, Kai continued. “Are you sure you’re ready for how people are going to react, though?”

“Ready?” May replied. “Kai, it’s not like people stopped believing it in the first place. If anything it would just confirm what they’re all still whispering about. Pretending to be something I’m not hasn’t done much to sway public opinion, has it?”

Sighing, Kai didn’t bother to reply. She was right and they both knew it. Instead, he looked to Em.

“And you,” he growled, pointing at her for emphasis. “I don’t care if you’re a chick. If you fuck with my sister I will hunt you down.”

Em frowned and calmly pushed his finger out of her face. “You can ease up on the protective brother bit. I’m not here to mess with May. Of course, if you were implying something else then I-”

“Okay!” May stepped in. “That’s enough, you two. Emmy, please don’t push our luck. And, Kai… Are we good?”

Kai groaned again, dropping into the old folding chair in defeat. “Sure, May. We’re good. Although you’re totally going to have to cover that thing up when you look after Omi tomorrow. Ora would lose her damn mind if she saw it and you know she’ll tell mama.”

May flushed and covered the bruise with her hand as if it would somehow help.

Em eased into the hammock, rocking on her heels and staring off into nothing. For a moment no one spoke. The silence made May antsy.

“So,” she ventured. “Did you just come out to visit or did you need something?”

“Oh, right.” Kai smiled at last, running a hand through his unkempt hair. “The Rocket’s been running a little funny lately. I was hoping you could take a look at it with me. I feel like there’s something I’m not seeing.”

Em raised an eyebrow. “The Rocket?”

“His van,” May explained.

Em did a visible double-take. “You know how to fix engines and stuff?”

“Sister, she knows how to do everything,” Kai grinned at the dumbfounded look on Em’s face.Turning his attention back to May, he added, “But if you have to dance today we can do it some other time.”

May waved him off. “It’s okay, the concert is wrapped up now.”

“Is Anoki throwing another one of his fancy parties then?” Kai asked. “You gonna go?”

“Oh, shoot!” May jolted. “I completely forgot!” She hustled inside.

Once she was out of earshot, Em leaned forward and whispered. “Does she really know how to fix cars? How does know how to do things like build conveyance systems and design houses and stuff?”

“She picks up on things super fast. Always has. She’s a genius or something. It’s almost freaky sometimes.”

Before Em could reply, May rushed back out onto the deck clutching an envelope in her hand.

“The gala’s next weekend.” She handed the invitation to Em. “But I’ll be honest; I haven’t given it a lot of thought.”

“You should go, May,” Kai insisted. “Everyone in town is talking about what a good job you did. Go capitalize on all this good mojo for a change! You deserve it.”

May lit up. Until this moment she hadn’t been sure if showing up at the gala would have been a smart move. But with her brother’s encouragement she finally felt it was safe to entertain the idea. The very thought of it made her giddy.

She glanced back to Em who had just finished reading the invitation.

“Would you like to come with me?” she asked quietly, suddenly sheepish at the idea of asking Em on what was essentially a date.

“If you’re going to let the world know you two are a thing I can’t think of a better place to make it official,” Kai jibed.

Em could tell he was taking a swing at them, probably more out of concern for his sister than anything else. But Em didn’t care. Turning her attention back to May, she smiled brightly.

“It would be my pleasure.”

[Read Next Chapter]


“Oh, I doubt I’ll ever understand.” – The Star and the Ocean, Chapter Seventeen