Sunday, June 12, 2011

Time In A Bottle by R. Ann Siracusa

I’m thrilled to participate on the TMDR blog, even though “short” is always a challenge for me. I was not born with the pithy gene. My music choices are as eclectic as my reading choices, so it was hard to settle on a single song. Since I fell in love and got married in Rome, many of my favorite love songs are in Italian. After giving the matter a lot of thought, I chose an old favorite, began to write, and bam! A whole new concept and song emerged. Why does my Muse always do that?

The characters populating this story took off on their own and gave me some surprises. I’ve learned that when my characters do unexpected things that don’t fit the storyline or their backgrounds, it’s usually because they know something I don’t. And they did!

Jim Croce, American singer and songwriter, whose gentle love songs are the legacy of the Seventies, wrote
Time In A Bottle in 1971 in honor of his yet-unborn son. It reached the top of the charts in December 1973, several months after Croce’s tragic death in a plane crash while he was on tour. Croce’s heart-felt songs have always been among my favorites. I didn’t know until I wrote this story that he and his family had moved to San Diego (where I live) in 1973, where his wife opened, and still operates, a restaurant in his honor.

If Mona believed wishes could come true, hers would be modest and simple. A job in her field of expertise…and to be left alone. But Mona has a secret, and it’s about to be revealed.

Rated - Adult - Appropriate for ages 18 and over only
Genre - Paranormal / Contemporary
Heat Level - Sensual


Time In A Bottle
By R. Ann Siracusa

At four o’clock Saturday afternoon, the UPS man delivered a package to the doorstep of my recently occupied apartment in an older, less-than-luxurious fourplex. A much smaller place than my three-bedroom condo which I’d had to rent out for economic reasons, as in
being laid off.

Exhausted from the move and still trying to clean up, I flopped onto the couch and tore off the outside wrapping, opened the card and read it aloud.

“Happy Birthday, Mona. Just a little something I picked up on my trip to the Middle East. The shopkeeper insisted this had been buried for thousands of years in an ancient tomb recently discovered out in the desert somewhere. I rather doubt it, but I had to have it for you. Love, your sister Grace.”

Pithy, to say the least, but at least she had remembered. I peeled off the expensive wrapping paper and lifted the lid off the box.

My shoulders slumped. “Another darned bottle?”

With a resigned sigh, I freed the stoppered vase from a plethora of Styrofoam peanuts, which scattered all over my recently vacuumed carpet, and placed it on the dining table beside two cardboard cartons of decorative bottles still waiting to be unpacked. “What in the world was I thinking?”

What possessed me to start collecting bottles, I couldn’t say, but after ten years of purchasing them everywhere I traveled and receiving another zillion as gifts ― every size, shape and color imaginable ― I’d realized what an impetuous, rotten decision it had been.

Now, with a quarter of the space I’d had in my condo, I couldn’t get rid of them fast enough.

I stared at the glass vessel and ran a fingertip over the smooth surface. With no cracks or chips, the antique ― if it really was one ― appeared to be in perfect condition. Standing about eighteen inches tall, the curve of the vase bowed outward from a three-inch diameter base to a ten-inch bowl, then narrowed and tapered upward. Very graceful. Metallic blue with silver designs ― definitely Middle Eastern ― and an onion-dome stopper.

Totally out of sync with the inexpensive early-miscellaneous décor of my rental, but lovely like most of the bottles my sister collected for me from all over the world. No doubt she had spent far too much for this one.

“It is beautiful.” I’d have to find a home for it instead of shipping it off to the Goodwill with old bath towels and household goods broken during the move. “I wonder where it was made…” I turned it over but there was no label on the bottom. “…and what it was used for?”

On impulse, I tried to remove the stopper so I could take a whiff, fully expecting the stench of wine-turned-to-vinegar or perhaps ancient embalming fluid, but it wouldn’t budge. Determined, I fetched a screwdriver out of the junk drawer in the kitchen and went to work prying up the bung.

After a few frustrating minutes it seemed to loosen. I worked harder, but with great care. I didn’t have any place to put another bottle, but I didn’t want to break it, either.

“Ah, here it comes.”

Scorching heat shot through my fingers.

“Ouch.” I dropped the screwdriver and shook my hand. It burned as though I’d placed my open palm on a hot burner of the stove. “What the ―”

Wham. A shock wave, like an earthquake, rocked the apartment. The dishes in the cupboards rattled. The fan wavered on its rod above the table and threatened to pull out of the ceiling. The walls creaked and moaned.

“Holy sh ―”

Shlupp. An intense vortex, accompanied by a sound like the toilet flushing on an airplane, sucked me against the counter, bruising my ribs and forcing the air from my lungs. I bounced backward and hit the floor on my butt. My head lurched back and whanged against the refrigerator.

The inside of my skull exploded in pain. Fireworks danced behind my eyelids, and then my world turned black.


I couldn’t have been out for more than a second or two. When I opened my eyes, I was on my back on the kitchen floor, my head throbbing, my heart beating like machine gun fire, and totally surrounded by gray smoke.

Shit! Somehow I’d set the kitchen on fire. I didn’t even remember cooking. My new landlord would have a hissy fit. If he evicted me, where would I go? Panic stricken, I urged my flaccid limbs into motion.

A large hand reached through the haze, grasped my arm, and lifted. I rose to my feet without being aware of using my own muscles. Teetering, I scrunched my lids together, the hand still steadying me, and gathered in several deep breaths of smoldering oxygen, then opened my eyes.

“Are you injured?” A deep velvety voice with an under-thread of steel slipped over me like a silken scarf, wrapping me in a gentle caress.

Startled, I strained to see the owner of the voice, but everything looked insubstantial, without defined edges.

I’d been cooking with a man in my kitchen? When did
that happen?

Maybe I’d been out longer than I thought. Or maybe this was a dream.

“I’m okay…I think.” I flexed my shoulders, shaking myself to get rid of the wooziness, my mind opting for the dream. My eyes cleared and focused on the form of a tall, bronzed and very male body standing in front of me.

Yowza! My voice froze in my throat.

Broad shoulders knobbed with muscles, lightly-haired chest, tight hard abs and narrow waist.

He let go of my arm and crossed muscular arms over his bare chest, his intense dark eyes considering me from above high cheekbones. The man’s square chin jutted just a bit, proclaiming an eastern heritage and a stubborn streak.

As the smoke-laden haze swirling around and through him began to dissipate into the ceiling vent, I gaped at the figure before me.

His thick dark brows pulled together in a frown beneath a lock of dark wavy hair that had escaped from beneath the turban on his head. The rich aroma of cardamom and his furnace-like heat infused the air, heating my blood and making me tremble.

He took a step forward, his nostrils flaring as though assessing my scent.

Stifling a cry of surprise — mixed with a small dose of fear — I hopped back, my hands behind me, and bumped against the counter. My fingers brushed against the glass bottle. I tossed it a backward glance. It lay on its side with the stopper beside it, vestiges of gray mist rising from its open mouth.

“Wh—who are you? How did you get in
my kitchen?”

“I do not know.” His low tone, a dying rumble like distant thunder, set off another round of shivers down my spine and a tingle in my belly.

“Which?” My chest rose and fell with ragged breaths. “You don’t know who you are? Or you don’t know how you got here?”

He shot me a disdainful glance, which I thought a bit cheeky considering he was trespassing in
my kitchen.

“My name is JaNaA Jinn. You may call me Jinn.”


“Not Jim.” He shook his head. “
Jinn. With two Ns. But how I came to be here, I don’t know. Give me a moment to remember.”

“Sure. Take your time.” He could take forever, as long as I could ogle him ― and he didn’t move. He stood. I ogled. Nice eye candy. Strange clothes, what little there were.

As my brain began to function, my taut muscles loosened.
Well, of course. “Are…are you by any chance a…genie?”

His forehead creased into a frown, and he narrowed his eyes as though perplexed by my question. “I don’t know. Why do you ask?”

He didn’t know? Great.

“Well, that’s what
Jinn means, and I believe you came out of that bottle over there.” I pointed to the still-smoking vase tipped over on the sink. “You’re wearing baggy pants tight at the ankle and, ah, you’re” ― nice abs, and the rest of him wasn’t bad either ― “well, all bare-chested. But I think it’s the turban that gave me that idea. It’s only a guess.”

He touched the turban with one hand and palmed his chin with the other as though wracking his brain for some long-buried memory. “Ah, you mean my
umamah.” He skewered me with an intense gaze. “And who are you?”

A surge of electricity flowed along my thighs. I shrank back and crossed by arms over my chest in a gesture of self-protection. “I, ah, I’m…Mona.” His unwavering appraisal made me uneasy, as though I’d forgotten to put on any clothes. “With one N.”

“Hmm, yes.” He pursed his lips and murmured under his breath. “Mona. To Desire. To Wish.”

Wishes? Ah ha! Then he was a genie. “You didn’t answer my question.”

He rolled his dark eyes and lifted his shoulders slightly. “I
might be a genie, although I seem to have been out of touch for a long time.”

“And how long might that be?

Jinn — with two Ns — glanced around the apartment with his nose scrunched, taking in his surroundings, apparently in contact with some genie Ethernet, then nailed me with his penetrating gaze.

“I’d say it’s been several millennium. Styles have changed a lot. I like what you’re wearing. Covered, but revealing.” He leered hungrily at my T-shirt as though he saw right through it. “I vaguely remember dying, though.”


Forgetting to be indignant about the leer, I chewed at my upper lip and considered the implications. The ghost of a genie? A genie once removed? That didn’t sound promising.

“I remember now,” he said slowly in a low silken voice. “It was a slight altercation with a jealous husband. A thrust of a scimitar between the ribs and through the lungs. The last thing I recall is being in a dark place.” He lifted his shoulders in an insouciant shrug. “Perhaps that’s why I thought I’d died.”

“Looks like you thought wrong.” Planting my fists on my hips, my arms bowed out like the handles on a cooking pot, I bestowed him with a watery smile. “This is a little out of my area of expertise, Jinn, so help me out here. I thought genies were supposed to be spirits of free will made from pure energy. How could someone kill you?”

“Well, I’d have to be a
sila, a shape shifter, but Jinn in human form are, well, human. They can be injured or killed like anyone else.” He looked down at his abs, a puzzled frown on his gorgeous face. “Ah, there it is.”

what is?” I inched closer to get a better look at his ribs. The man…well, the dream man…was totally ripped. Yum. My insides turned mushy with desire, a sensation I hadn’t experienced in a long time.

Of course, he couldn’t be real. In my experience, real people didn’t pop out of bottles or materialize from smoke. Only imaginary beings did that. Besides, human men never looked like
this. Not up close and personal.

Maybe I’d been drinking and just didn’t remember. I couldn’t help wondering what else I — we — might have been doing.

“The scar. Right there.” He took my hand and pressed it to his side.

The touch of his flesh against my palm sent an unexpected shock of need — and surprise — rippling through my body. Warm flesh,
real skin. He was not a figment of my overactive imagination.

I pulled away and put some space between us.

“Oh, yeah. I see it now. I hadn’t noticed.” Actually, my gaze had wandered southward, but now that I’d forced my eyes up and turned my attention to his abdomen, I saw the scar…a good eight inches long and nasty looking. At least, it had been. I could easily imagine someone dying from a wound like that, even in this age of modern medicine. And he’d said millennium. “So, what happened?”

“The husband was drunk and irrational, you understand. There was no reason for him to be jealous and —”

Apparently, males hadn’t changed over the millennium. “I asked you what happened, not why?”


I rest my case. “Whatever. It doesn’t matter, as long as you can still grant my wish?”


Oh, man. Now, he said the word as though he’d never heard it before. Just my luck. I finally get a genie, and he’s one who’s been out of commission for way too long.

“You know. Aren’t genies in bottles supposed to grant the wishes to those who free them. Like, I’m your master until you do.”

“My master? Hmm.” Jinn compressed his lips thoughtfully, as though he rather liked the idea. I didn’t miss the slight tweak at the corner of his mouth. “I don’t know if I can grant wishes anymore. It’s been a long time. I feel the force within me, but I’d have to experiment to find out for sure. Do you want me to try?”

I forced a smile and gritted my teeth. “Can you do it without my input?”

Just in case he could, I didn’t want to waste a perfectly good wish on an experiment.

Not that I would ask for much. One wish would be good enough. Just a job that I liked in my field of expertise. One that paid enough for me to afford to live in my condo…and maybe he’d throw in an honest employer who wasn’t stealing from his own company and forcing it into bankruptcy. That wouldn’t be too hard, even for a rusty genie, would it?

He shook his head ruefully. “I’m not sure that will work. I’ve been out of action for at least three thousand years. My power levels need re-energizing.”

A tremor slithered along my arms and down my torso. “What does it take to —”

In an instant, so fast I didn’t see him move, he hovered over me, his arm draped around my waist and his face bent over mine. His scent of exotic spices and male pheromones flooded though my pores like a drug.

Overwhelmed by nearly forgotten desires, fire stirred at my core. My pulse raced. My mind ordered me to pull away. My body fought against the mental reaction to terminate contact, against the fear of being close to someone again.

But this isn’t real, my body argued with my intellect. It’s your imagination, a hallucination. A dream can’t hurt you. Why not enjoy the fantasy?

Why not? With a moan, I leaned into him and snaked my arms around his neck, pulling his lips down to mine. Warm, firm, gentle, yet demanding. When his tongue pressed for entrance, a wave of abandon rushed over me and I opened my mouth. Rational thought departed. He tasted of exotic spices, of clean air and fresh earth and sea breeze. In that tender moment, I knew he would never hurt or deny me. He tasted of home and heaven. He tasted of forever.

His hand moved lower to the base of my spine and cupped my buttocks, drawing me tight against him, his hard thickness pressing against my belly.

He groaned with pleasure. “My Mona. My wish. I have found you at last.”

“Please, Jinn.”

He eased his hold and seemed to study my face, assessing the sincerity of my plea, his eyes blazing with the same desire burning inside me. Then he swept me off my feet and carried me down the hall, nuzzling my neck and covering my mouth with ravenous kisses.

In the bedroom, he placed me on the bed and settled his body half over mine, aligning our hips, pressing his hardness into my thighs.

I tried to sift my fingers through his hair and dislodged the turban. “Will you take this off?”

He ran the tip of his tongue along my jaw, lingering at my mouth. “I will…in exchange for you taking this off.” He lifted my T-shirt slowly, his warm hands sliding up my sides, long fingers pulling the garment over my head and tossing it to the floor. I arched my back and unfastened my bra.

His breath caught. Murmuring words in a language I didn’t understand, his hands cupped my breasts, testing their weight, brushing his palms over the hard nubs, teasing them until I wanted to scream for more. And when his mouth closed over the taut bud, spiraling need flamed out of control.

I pushed his hands lower. They trailed over the mound of my belly and around the waist of my jeans.

“I have searched for so long to find you, my desire. You will be mine for eternity.”

The euphoria dropped from me, sloughed off like a handbag in the grip of a purse-snatcher.

Gone. Just like that.

“Stop.” I could barely force out the word. I didn’t want him to.

He pulled back. “Stop?”

“Yes. Please.”

“I do not understand.” His deep voice trembled with hurt. “Do you not want me? Do you not wish this?”

With a gut wrenching sob, I buried my face against his shoulder, a world of regret burning behind my eyes. “Oh, yes. I
do want you. I do want this, for now and for eternity.” My voice shook. “Not just the sex, but you. Everything. The gentleness and caring. Someone I can love who loves me, someone to be there for me when I need him, someone I can care for and nurture. Yes, I want you. With all my heart.” I sucked in oxygen. “But this is a dream. A dream that can’t come true. This isn’t real. You aren’t real.”

He studied me, his eyes burning with an undefined emotion I couldn’t read. Not just desire. Much more. “Why do you believe your dream can’t come true? Why do you believe I am not real?”

“You’re a genie, remember? A human doesn’t cool his heels in a bottle for millennium, waiting for someone to pop the cork. I’m probably prostrate on my kitchen floor with my head cracked open, hallucinating.” Irrational, inexplicable anger welled, and I couldn’t hold back the sarcasm. “Besides, even if you
were real, this is too much, too fast. I don’t know you. I can’t take the chance.”

Why did I say that? Consumed by regret, I buried my face in my hands and tried to keep my body from shaking.

He lifted my hands away gently and cupped my face, forcing me to meet his gaze. His dark eyes beneath a frown seemed to flash with anger. “Who hurt you so much? What happened to you?” he asked in a husky whisper.

I’d asked him the same thing. I drew in another long breath and let it out slowly between clenched teeth. “A slight altercation with a drunk, irrational husband who had no reason to be jealous. A punch in the mouth, a kick in the stomach, a miscarriage, a divorce.” I sobbed once, then shoved the emotions back into their dark hole and stifled them. “Now, all I want is to be able to support myself.”

He stared at me, his face void of expression. Without a word, he rose, retrieved from the floor the long length of cloth that had been wound into the turban, and walked down the hall to the kitchen, the ribbon of white trailing behind him.

I leaped off the bed, snatched up my T-shirt and raced after him.

“Jinn, wait!” I struggled to pull my top over my head without bumping into the
walls. “Where are you going? I didn’t say you had to leave.”

Big mouth.

I dashed into the kitchen in time to see a whirlwind of smoke envelope him, spinning and swirling, the end of the
umamah flapping from the center of the pool of current.

“What about my wish? I never got to tell you my wish.”

His voice boomed from the twirling smoke as the funnel entered the bottle on the counter. “I know.”

I waved my hands frantically, palms up. “No! No, you don’t.” The vessel began to vibrate and shake, the glass tinkling against the tile, harder and louder, as it sucked the smoke inward. “Listen to me. All I want is a job with a decent salary. Not a lot. Just enough to —”
Shlupp. “Survive. Darn!”

Whipping up the bottle, I turned it upside down and pounded my palm on the bottom, as though trying to coax thick catsup to pour out.

“Come back here. You didn’t let me finish.” A puff of gray smoke burped out of the neck. “That’s
not funny. I’m your master, remember. You have to obey me.”

Another smaller belch of mist spewed forth.

Holding the bottle to my face, I pressed my eye to the side of the bottle, so close my lashes brushed the glass. A dark eye seemed to stare back at me from inside.

With a long sigh of frustration, I placed the vessel on the counter. I don’t know how long I sat in front of it, staring at the blue and silver glass and wondering what it might be like to live in a bottle. If I could save time in a bottle. The lyrics of the old song drifted through my consciousness.

The eye never blinked.

Overactive imagination, I kept telling myself. You made up the entire episode. Finally, I dragged my weary body off the chair, went into the bedroom and threw myself face down on the bed without undressing…and wept.

I hadn’t cried before, not even when I lost the baby. Then, I’d convinced myself it was better that way and managed to hold back the tears.

Six years and I hadn’t shed a single tear. Now, I couldn’t contain the flood. The ache of incredible loss tore at my insides until I felt as though my innards had been scooped out with a trowel. I had found, and lost, the most precious treasure anyone could ever have, all in the space of a few hours.

Real or only a figment of my imagination, Jinn had stirred in me emotions I’d thought I could never experience again for the rest of my life. And now that they had surfaced, those emotions wouldn’t leave me alone.

I hadn’t been happy, but I had reached an accommodation with my past. Now, I didn’t have even that.


Sleep evaded me. At four in the morning, I rose. Still wearing the rumpled clothes I hadn’t had the energy to shed the night before, without showering or changing, I simply went to work. Humming in spite of the weariness and depression that weighed on me like a heavy blanket, I opened the rest of the moving boxes. The tune from the night before ran through my mind like a never-ending wheel as I put things away or repacked them to be picked up by Goodwill.

Anything to keep my mind busy and my eyes off Jinn’s bottle.

Had he been real or had I imagined the whole thing? The back of my head had a bump, so I knew I’d fallen. I remembered hitting my skull against the refrigerator. That had to be it.

But it couldn’t be. My heart ached too much. My body cried out for his touch, my mind yearned for his love.

At some point I sank down onto one of the chairs at the counter and stared at the bottle, hoping to see a puff of smoke at its mouth.

Hours later, I was still sitting there when the doorbell rang, startling me out of my reverie. I straightened, realizing my head rested on the cool tile surface of the counter and pounded with the headache from hell.

I yawned and stretched. Who the heck? I glanced at my watch and let my head drop down again. Screw them. I didn’t want to see anyone right now.

Then I remembered I hadn’t given this address to anyone except my sister Grace. She certainly wouldn’t have flown in from New York to be at my door at seven o’clock on a Sunday morning.

Filled with dread and chewing at my lower lip, I levered myself out of the chair and stomped to the door, gearing up to ream my caller a new one…unless it turned out to be someone from the FBI investigating my ex-boss.

Without looking through the peephole, I yanked open the door…and hopped back, almost tripping over my own feet.

A man stood on my threshold. Broad shoulders knobbed with muscle bulged under the short sleeves of a Trent Reznor T-shirt tucked into tight jeans. Intense dark eyes considering me from above high cheekbones. Square chin, bronzed complexion, dark wavy hair.

My heart hammered against my ribs, my mouth dried and my chin dropped.

“Jinn?” I stammered holding up an open palm as if warding off an evil spirit.

Smiling, he grasped my hand and pumped it enthusiastically. “Right. I’ll bet our landlord tipped you off.” His eyes twinkled. “I’m Jim. Jim Jana.”


“Not Jinn,
Jim. With one M.” Still holding my hand, he winked at me and shot me an irresistible Cheshire grin. “I’m your next door neighbor. I thought I’d drop by to introduce myself and see if I can give you hand with the move.”

“Jim?” I shook myself and blinked. He didn’t disappear. “Oh, yes, sorry.”
I’m still asleep. I’m dreaming. But his hand feels so warm, hard and real. I can feel the tiny ridges in his finger tips. Slowly, I drew my hand from his grasp. “I’m —”

“You’re Mona, right? Also with one M.” He grinned again. “You’re the only one in the complex who doesn’t know. I wanted to tell you myself. May I come in?”

His words sent prickles of panic over my scalp and through my body to my feet, making my toenails curl.

“Know?” Stunned and fearing the worst, I stepped back and opened the door wider. He strode into the living-dining room — tall, broad, solid and absolutely to-die-for — overwhelming the modest space the same way he overwhelmed me. “Sure, come in. Ah, what is it that I don’t know?”

He considered me through narrowed eyes, then curled his lips in a slow sexy smile. “I’m your new landlord. I just bought the fourplex.”

Alarmed, I sucked in a gasp of air.

“Oh, don’t worry. I’m not making any changes. I just wanted you to know.”

Relief swept through me, but the tension stringing me out didn’t diminish. I could scarcely breathe, and my heart pounded so loud I thought he would hear it.

“Oh, well, yes. I’m glad to know that, and I’m pleased to meet you, Mr. Jana.” Jim Jana. JaNaA Jinn. Too unbelievable to accept as a coincidence. But impossible. “Ah, hmm, so then, I take it you’re in real estate?”

Lame, I know, but I hadn’t regained my equilibrium from seeing a Jinn-look-alike on my doorstep.

He shook his head. “No, actually I work out of my apartment. I’m an import-export broker. I specialize in ceramic pottery and glass.”

I blinked. “Cookware?” I never would have dreamed.

“Oh, no. Art works. I buy and sell for museums and private collectors all over the world.” He glanced around the room, his appreciative gaze skimming over the array of bottles, decanters, and flasks I’d unpacked, coming to rest on the blue and silver one still on the counter.

that is a magnificent piece.” He crossed the room in two long strides, picked up Jinn’s home, and turned it over and over, examining all parts of it with great care. “I’m impressed. This is an authentic historic artifact, extremely old and in perfect condition. Where did you get it? There are a dozen museums and collectors who would pay a fortune for this.”

“No!” I almost lunged for the bottle, but restrained myself from snatching it out of his hands. Instead, I clenched and unclenched my fists at my sides until one of my fingernails pierced my skin. “It was a gift. It’s
not for sale — not at any price.” I’d become homeless, but I would never give it up.

The corner of his mouth twitched slightly. He slid onto one of the bar stools at the counter and set the bottle in front of him, then captured my gaze.

His exotic dark looks mesmerized me. I couldn’t keep from gaping at him. I wiped my hands on my thighs. “Ah, I was about to make some coffee. Would you like some?”

“Sure. From the looks of your collection, I’d wager you’re in the art business, too."

I busied myself searching through the cupboards for the can of coffee I’d purchased the day before and stowed away with my kitchen accouterments. Anything to keep my gaze off him.

“Not really. I’m actually the foreign affairs manager for a large international shipping company. I travel everywhere negotiating major transportation contracts and overseeing the packing of valuable items. Well, that is, I did. The company just filed for Chapter Eleven, and I’ve been laid off.” I ran a finger across my throat in a slashing motion. “I have to finish up here today, so bright and early Monday I can start beating the bushes for a new job.” I took the coffee container from the shelf and closed the door.

He sprang off the chair, came around to the side of the counter where I was fussing with the lid, and leaned close. The heady scent of cardamom wafted around me. I felt the same heat from him as before, and again I trembled with desire.

“Listen, Mona.” His lips caressed my name as he spoke it, sending more tremors of desire skittering to the base of my spine. “I have an idea. My business has grown so rapidly, I’ve been thinking about taking in a partner. Would you be interested?”

My heart lurched. Butterflies took up tap dancing in my stomach. I backed away a step or two. “That sounds phenomenal, Jinn…
Jim…but we don’t even known each other.”

He cast me a knee-melting smile. “I know, but I’m a good judge of people. And I have the feeling we’d be a perfect fit.”

Heat crept up my neck. “Maybe, but I don’t have the cash for investing in a business. I wish I did.”

He shook his head. “I don’t need cash. Money’s not an issue. I need expertise and experience, and you’ve got just what I need.” He shot me another sexy smile that implied he needed more than just
business expertise.

When I didn’t answer, he cleared his throat. “Look, Mona, I don’t want to rush you. Time isn’t an issue, either.” He took the plastic container from me and set it aside. “Let’s forget the coffee. Let me take you out for breakfast. We can talk about it, and get to know each other. You can take all the time you need. Eternity, if you want it.” He took my hand and squeezed it reassuringly. “You know, it is possible for wishes to come true.”

Stunned, I stood silent for a moment, afraid to believe. Then my heart leaped with joy. “I’ll get my purse.”

On the way out to his car, my happiness overflowed.

Jim tucked my arm through his. “What’s that tune you’re humming.”

“Oh, it’s an old favorite of mine by Jim Croce, called
Time In A Bottle.”

He smiled and my heart melted into a puddle. “I haven’t heard it before, but I like it.”

“So do I.”


R. Ann Siracusa is involved in many activities, but her two favorite are traveling the world and writing fiction. This talented author combines those passions into novels which transport readers to exotic settings, immerse them in romance, intrigue, and foreign cultures, and make them laugh.

Today, she is retired from a career in architecture and urban planning where she was multi-published in professional non-fiction categories. She lives in San Diego, California, and writes full time. Her first novel, a mafia thriller, was published in 2008, and since then, seven additional works have been published by Sapphire Blue Publishing and an eighth scheduled for release this month.

For more information about her humorous romantic suspense series, Tour Director Extraordinaire series, visit her website at

The Tour Director Extraordinaire Series

Harriet Ruby, a well-balanced young woman whose life has been good but ordinary and predictable, wants some excitement before she settles down to career and family.

She takes a position in Europe as a tour director. In Morocco, conducting her first solo tour, one of her tourists dies. Will Talbot, a handsome stranger and Europol spy in disguise, offers to help her smuggle the body out of Morocco. At that moment, Harriet’s once-predictable life turns upside down.

Little does she know that getting out of Morocco is only the beginning. Together they experience hilarious misadventures, great sex, and life-threatening journeys in pursuit of murderers, smugglers, terrorists and a once-in-a-lifetime love.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Put You in a Song by Elizabeth Silver

Every time I buy a CD (and yes, I still buy the physical discs instead of hitting up iTunes), the first thing I do upon cranking the stereo volume, is flip to the liner notes. Who made this shiny little miracle of music happen? Who did the artist thank, and in what order? Long before I started writing my own stories, I used to daydream stories about those people in the liner, and wonder if it was as beautiful to them as it was to me to see someone else paying homage, even superficially, for all time?

Then my favorite musician married my favorite actress and started writing music about her, and putting her in his liner notes. But that wasn’t enough for Keith Urban. No, he had to write the song that I couldn’t resist using as the inspiration for my story:

That is the kind of love I adore writing about, and that is exactly the love I wanted to write about here for my turn at TMDRA. I hope you enjoy it!

Sing along if you know the words...

Deeply closeted country musician James Johnson’s career is on the rocks when he goes away on writing retreat with his on-again, off-again lover and song writing partner, Whitney Turner. Except the harmony turns to discord when the old fight threatens to split them for good. Can they work on the same page, or is James’s career (and love life) done for?

Rated – Adult – Appropriate for 18 years and older only
Genre – Contemporary M/M
Heat Level – Erotic


From Nashville Heart Weekly, May 30, 2011:

While many artists would have taken time to lick their wounds after a flop as spectacular as Jimmy Johnson’s failed pop experiment, JJ’s House, industry buzz has it that the once-popular country crooner is headed to an undisclosed location to start writing all new songs for his next album. That same dedication to his craft that has kept Johnson afloat through some rocky times in his career – rehab for his much-publicized drug problem, the fallout from the annulment of his three-month marriage to actress Shelby Carr, and some decidedly not family-friendly photos in a certain ladies’ only magazine being a few of the more popular high points – and those closest and most loyal to Johnson have hinted that this song writing retreat will be as much about production as it will be about finding his country roots again.

If that’s true, then Johnson couldn’t ask for better company along the way. Whitney Turner, known by all the best names in the business as the man to have working on your tunes, has been packing his bags for a little getaway of his own. Turner co-wrote some of Johnson’s biggest hits to date with the artist himself, including “Old Dancing Shoes,” “Knocking on Your Door,” and of course, the ever popular ballad “Somebody Else’s Name.” If they’re pairing up again, it’s probably safe to say that Nashville will never be the same...


The mountains rose up all around them, covered in their early summer green. A few of the bushes and trees still clung to late spring buds, bright pink and white splashes that zoomed by as Whit drove the rental along the road. They’d left the general store and incorporated county roads about an hour back, and James had finished off his coffee almost as long ago, but the further and further they got from Nashville, the reporters, the reviews that made it sound like he’d suddenly gone tone deaf instead of just produced an album no one wanted, the better he felt.

The Jeep bounced over a pothole big enough to swallow them whole, throwing James a few inches in the air despite his seatbelt. He looked over at Whit and laughed.

“You look like a kid at the county fair, man.” James tossed his empty paper cup in emphasis. “I didn’t know you were into off-roading.”

Whit’s smile was wide and bright in the late morning sunlight as he tossed his head to get a shock of black hair out of his eyes. “We’re almost there,” he said, popping a fresh piece of his favorite gum in his mouth. Sure enough, he slowed down just before taking a dirt road James hadn’t even seen coming, and then the jostling eased up as the tires found old tracks worn from decades of visitors, coming round a bend just as the trees parted.

The log cabin sprawled lakeside, the back end half-hidden by trees and bushes, like the forest was trying to take it back, or maybe just keep it safe, cradling the house in branches and ivy. There were glints of glass in the shingled roof, modern skylights hinting at who knew how many other updates that might have been made over the years, while a long porch ran half the length of the front of the house, complete with rocking chairs that could have come right out of a “country life” photo somewhere. There was even a tire swing hanging in the shade of a lakeside tree.

“It’s gorgeous,” James said quietly.

“Thanks.” Whit pulled the Jeep up onto the gravel drive in front of the house. “Not much of the family comes out too often since my grandfather died, but we used to spend every summer here, running wild as heathens.”

James laughed. “You must have been one giant freckle by the time school started in the fall.”

“Well, we can’t all be blond-haired, brown-eyed country boys.” Whit punched James’s arm just hard enough to sting. “Some of us have to suffer with the burden of being the pretty ones.”

Without even bothering to come up with a retort, James climbed out of the Jeep. His duffle bag and guitar were in the back, right next to Whit’s gear and the coolers of supplies. Everything they needed for the next few days, and it would be easy enough to refuel after that.

They unpacked the Jeep quickly and got everything piled on the porch. Whit unlocked the front door and stopped, turning to James with a small smile.

“So I finally got you alone,” he said, leaning in. Whit’s fingers were warm and familiar on the back of James’s neck, his breath minty and close. “What’m I gonna do with you?”

And there it was. That old, familiar panic; the conviction they were being watched, that a reporter would jump out of the nearest tree with camera flashing and tape rolling. It didn’t matter where they were, or how far away they were from the rest of civilization. All that matter was the surge of panic that rose up like bile in the back of James’s throat, turning his head.

Whit’s mouth landed awkwardly on the corner of James’s. For a moment, they both froze, and then Whit pulled away with a sigh like guitar strings out of tune.


“We can wait until after lunch to start work, I figure,” James said. “Long drive, and I could use a shower and a nap, you know?”

For a long moment, he thought Whit might call him on it, might start them off on the path they’d both been avoiding for so long. Then he stepped back, face closing off and those sky-blue eyes shuttering against him.

“Yeah. We can work after lunch. Whatever you want, Jim.”

Jim. Ouch. Whit only brought that one out when he was his most pissed off, and the only hope James had of fixing it was to lay low for a while until Whit cooled off. Maybe try to get some work done.



James followed Whit inside the house, feeling as off-track and lost as his last album. There were people expecting a new batch of songs from him yesterday, and he was fresh out of do-overs. It was time to get cracking and start writing.

Just as soon as he figured out where the music in his soul had gone.


They didn’t talk much as they worked that afternoon, bent over notebooks and blank sheet music pages. James told himself it was because they had their own thought processes to work through before they could come together and make the songs happen, and that they both knew better than to force things along, but he knew otherwise.

Every word James tried to write sounded hollow and trite, and every note he scribbled fell sour on his ears. They went through two pots of coffee before Whit cursed and pushed back from the table, announcing he was going to bed early. James had just grunted and spouted some bullshit about the both of them being worn out, even though he felt like clawing out of his own skin and climbing up the walls out of sheer frustration.

Maybe it had been too long since they’d done this, he wondered as he set a new pot on to brew; his last album hadn’t had any collaborations on it at all, and Whit hadn’t put out any new music in almost a year. Maybe they’d just forgotten how to play well with others.

That was a lie, and James knew it. He still remembered their argument when Shelby had tired of their sham of a marriage and left, and James had shown up at Whit’s door only to be sent back home to his big empty house. Whit had needed more than the occasional lay when it was convenient for them, and James... well. It was better to be considered a player that wouldn’t settle down that the truth, and they both knew it. The damn tiger in the corner of the room, threatening to tear it all down if James wasn’t careful.


The mattress was musty and lumpy, but the sheets were soft enough that James didn’t care. All he wanted was to sleep in a little more. The sky had been getting light with sunrise by the time he’d hauled his sorry butt to bed, but he’d not only finished a rough draft of some lyrics he’d started the night before, but had also made serious progress on a second song. The pages for that, a few snippets of lyrics but otherwise wordless for now, were tucked away safe until later, something he could work on alone.

Grumbling at his crowded thoughts as they insisted on waking him up, James buried his face in the pillow and snuggled deeper into the covers. That was right about when he felt the mattress dip and the familiar press of Whit against his back. Comfortable, always with just the right amount of give, and something James had thought he’d never feel again.

“Your rhyming scheme sucks,” Whit said, kissing the back of James’s shoulder. “But maybe we can fix it up a bit, find a better singing rhythm.” His arm curled around James’s torso, hand flat over his heart. “Might have been a good B-side, if they still had ‘em.”

“Fuck you, it’s single material,” James muttered. He relaxed back into Whit’s body.

“You say that about everything you write.” He could hear the grin in Whit’s voice, and knew his lyrics had done the job.

“That’s because I’m a genius.”

“Sure thing, babe.” Whit kissed his neck. “Now shut up, I’m trying to go back to sleep, yeah?”

James smiled into the pillow as some of the bands around his heart eased a bit. “Yeah.”


Three days later, and things were better. Almost like old, only not, and James knew there was a talk looming in their future, but thought maybe it could keep a while yet. All he wanted was to bask in the glow of those stolen hours, working together on song ideas, playing in the kitchen, fighting over bed linens, and the hot, passionate sex that threatened to set the whole house on fire when they came together.

Still, James would catch Whit watching him out of the corner of his eye, looking thoughtful, like he had a whole monologue locked and loaded for just the right moment. So he knew it wasn’t going to last. It was just a matter of time.

“I wish I could make it all stay just like this,” James said at the end of the third day.

“Hmm?” Whit sounded casual, but James could feel the tension in him. They were sharing a lounge chair, James between Whit’s legs and leaning back against his chest as they watched the sun going down behind the pines at the far side of the lake.

“You and me, all alone with no one to bother us or get in the way.” James laced their fingers, tan and freckled, together until they were almost knotted. “I wish I didn’t have to go back to the groupies and the plants that pretended to be groupies that I’d supposedly slept with. If I was brave enough, I could just tell them...”

Whit sighed. “That you’d been getting your rocks off with other dudes since you were sixteen and they were barking up the wrong tree?” He rested his cheek on top of James’s head. “You and I both know that’s only if you want to deep-six what’s left of your career in a hurry. That’s why we’ve always been just this, James.”

“Yeah, well.” James laughed hollowly. “What if I wanted more than just this? Something more than just the occasional stolen fuck when we can get away would be nice. I want what other people have, Whit. I want that romance we’re always so keen on me singing about.”

Whit locked up behind him, moving quickly to climb out of the chair without dislodging James. “As if I’m going to get to give it to you,” he said. “Look, do me a favor, Jim, and stop dangling what I can’t have in front of me, yeah? It’s not cool and I don’t play those games.”


But Whit didn’t stop, his boots loud on the dock as he stormed back to the house. And James just sat there, clueless and helpless and feeling like he’d just done something very wrong when all he’d been doing was trying to say that Whit was the only thing that actually felt right in his life.

James waited until long past sunset, half-hoping that Whit would come back out and they’d be able to pick things back up again, pretend everything was fine like they had about nearly everything else. Eventually, he had to give up and go in on his own, when the dusk chill settled in to a night cool, and James only had his shorts and a thin t-shirt for protection.

The house was dark despite the banked coals in the fireplace, and there was no sign of Whit in the living room or kitchen as James made his way through for a lonely cup of coffee. Even the pot was cold, so he took a few minutes to warm up the last dregs on the stove, forehead on the range hood and eyes closed. Every move, every sound seemed to echo strangely, and the cabin felt as empty as James had that night Whit had sent him home.

I don’t want to be your back-up lay anymore, Jim.

And now James had tried to give him just that, more than he’d ever offered before, and things were more broken than ever. He didn’t understand why, and if he didn’t understand, he didn’t have a prayer in fixing it.

Familiar footsteps scuffed on the linoleum behind him as James poured the reheated coffee into his mug. He turned around slowly, feeling like a man meeting the firing squad, and might as well have been shot, as much as the hurt in Whit’s eyes damn near killed him.

“There’s no hope for more than this,” Whit said. His voice sounded like gravel, and James’s fingers curled reflexively around the mug instead of reaching for him. “I got that a long time ago, before you made it big, before you got married. I’m reminded with every girlfriend, every gossip column tying your name to another girl willing to play the game in exchange for her fifteen minutes. If there’s no place for a gay cowboy in Nashville, then that goes double for his fuck buddy.”

James stood there, numb. It wasn’t anything they hadn’t talked about before, but this time he heard more than just a breakdown of their messed up situation. It was the wedge that was finally doing its job between them. He reached for Whit and stumbled into the kitchen table instead.

“But we can...” James tried, and then trailed off. He didn’t know what they could do, but there had to be something.

“Don’t pretend that we’re like everyone else and all we have to do is just win over a few family and friends,” Whit said, shaking his head. “You’re not, Jim. You’re special, one of country’s rising stars. And me? I’m... I’m just the guy you sometimes write songs and sleep with. We can’t be together all the time, not with things the way they are, and I know a hell of a lot better than to even daydream that you’d ever want to give all that up to be with me. I’m flat out not worth it.”

“Don’t even say that. You’re my friend.” James could feel the moment slipping through his fingers. “You’re much more than that, always have been, even when I’ve been a shit to you.”

Whit shook his head and smiled sadly. “I’m self-deluded, is what I am. But at least I’m being honest now.” He sighed. “Look, I think it’s best if I sleep in my room tonight, okay? I should be back to normal in the morning, but for now... for now, I really just need the space.”

“Yeah. Sure.” The words sounded strangled, probably because of the huge knot lodged in the middle of his throat. James swallowed thickly and let Whit turn around and pad quietly out of the kitchen, leaving him with nothing but a table covered in song notes and a mug of lukewarm coffee.


No matter what Whit said, the next day was hell for the both of them. They barely spoke, neither one able to make eye contact. If it had been anyone else, any other situation, James might have joked that Hell was being locked away for the next month with someone that just dumped you. But he really wasn’t feeling up to humor, so he just settled for staying out of Whit’s way as much as possible.

By mid-afternoon, James was ready to start climbing the walls. Instead, he grabbed his iPod and went for a walk.

Whit thinks I don’t really want to be with him, he mused as he put the music player on random, he thinks I’d never be willing to even admit wanting the things he wants. But if I just tell him, he’d never believe me. Life’s never that easy, is it?

Right then, the music shuffled up one of his own singles, and James heard his voice singing the familiar words of “Somebody Else’s Name.” He and Whit had written it over a weekend when he’d been told by management that he was going to have a whirlwind marriage with Shelby. Getting married would mean no more playing around, nothing; it might have been a bogus marriage on both sides, but James was still a man of his word, and even if he only had, at most, brotherly thoughts about her.

The ballad had been an instant hit, a tear-jerker that he couldn’t get away from playing even now, two years later. It was easy to get lost in the technicalities of the music, but just now, walking along a lake with only one other person around for miles, James found himself listening to the words he and Whit had written for each other.

And he had an idea.


He waited until after dinner to shut himself up in his room, not that they got any work done before they ate. They just sat in opposite corners of the living room, reading books and doing a piss-poor job of pretending the other wasn’t there. James sure hoped this worked, because if it didn’t, there was no way he’d be able to spend the rest of the month like this, even ignoring the fact that his heart felt like it was in a million pieces in his chest.

For the first couple of hours, he just worked on paper, scribbling notes and trying to get into the flow of the music when every part of him wanted to be downstairs with Whit. But then it was always like that; looks that lasted too long and conversations at parties cut short until they could stand a little closer. It was like the music flowed better when they were together.

The first few attempts had to be scrapped for being depressing shit, and the one after that sounded more like a greeting card. It wasn’t until he heard Whit’s measured steps in the hall and let himself pretend they were coming his way like they should have been that a smile kicked up one side of James’s mouth and the words clicked.

And when it came time to work on the music, James gathered up his papers and his guitar and crept back downstairs. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if he woke Whit up with his strumming, now would it?


It was late by the time the song started feeling right, past midnight. Sitting on the floor in front of the fire in his jeans and t-shirt, guitar in hand and sheet music scattered all around him, James was about halfway through a play through of the first verse when he heard the stairs creak. Figuring he was busted anyhow, he kept going, putting a little more volume in his voice so Whit could hear him better.

He sang about wanting to keep Whit with him, wanting the world to see what they had. He sang about never being able to get enough of what it was between them, because if James was being honest, it had long ago stopped being just sex. Way before Shelby, before the fame. If it hadn’t, they’d have been able to quit ages ago. But there was no quitting this, and James needed Whit to know that he saw it now.

As the last notes faded, Whit knelt on the rug, hands running over the pages. He was wearing a pair of drawstring pants that James was pretty sure were actually his, and somehow that gave him a little more courage.

“You should pick up the tempo, make it more peppy and less of a ballad,” Whit said. He didn’t look up for a long while, but when he did, his face was serious, eyes unreadable in the firelight.


“But it’s good. I think you’ve really got something there.”


“You’ll want to change the pronouns before you record, though. You probably don’t want to go around singing about putting other guys in love songs, Jim.”

“Whit, will you shut up?”

Whit’s hands clutched at the papers, but he closed his mouth and sat back on his heels. It was enough of an opening to get out what needed out, James figured.

“It’s for you,” he said. “I’ll fix the tempo if you want me to, but this song, I didn’t write it for any album, I didn’t write it to sing about some nameless girl. I wrote it for you, because it’s all about you. I’d thought I made that pretty damn clear, didn’t you?”

Whit didn’t say anything, just looked down at his hands. But he didn’t leave, so James hoped he was on the right track. All he could do was keep trying until he got it right, until he fixed things enough that Whit could see that he really was right there for him.

James shook his head and set his guitar aside. “This, we, can’t end like this. Not when we’ve never really tried. I know it’s going to suck, I know it’s going to be hard, but you’re worth it. God, are you ever worth it. So if you think the song needs fixing, we can do that. Together. Okay?”

Whit laughed, just once, and finally looked up. There were tears in his eyes, but a real smile on his face as he held out a hand to James. And that was it. The sign James was waiting on.

Crawling over the small space between them, James met Whit’s kiss eagerly, hands cradling faces, like they might drift apart again if they didn’t hold on tight from here on out. James’s fingers tangled in Whit’s hair for a few seconds, clinging a little tighter when Whit tried to pull up for air.

“Bedroom,” Whit whispered against his lips.

That one word was enough to push James into action, and he was up and heading for the stairs in a heartbeat, fingers laced with Whit’s. Not like he had to pull Whit along; Whit followed right behind him, laughing and shoving to make him go faster, get there sooner. Their bare feet skidded on the polished wood floors, and James banged to a halt against the wall just outside Whit’s room, pulling him in for another kiss, curling one hand around Whit’s hip, smiling into another light kiss.

Whit leaned back, not enough to break the contact of their bodies, but enough to watch was he traced the lines of James’s face. “I always do like lookin’ at you,” he said, as quiet as the shadows around them. His voice was low and slow, that old drawl that hardly ever came out after so much time in the music industry. “Knowin’ you’ve shown me parts the rest of the world can’t even dream of. Even when it killed me to know it, I did still like the lookin’. Maybe because it reminded me of times like this, you know?”

“Whit...” James cupped the side of Whit’s face in his free hand. “I don’t know what I do without you to love the real me just as much as I...” He swallowed around a thick knot, the words refusing to come out just yet.

But Whit understood. Of course he did. He just laughed. “You little shit,” he said. “Stealing my thunder and sayin’ it for me.” Another laugh, this one right against James’s mouth. “Come on to bed, babe.”

They stumbled into the bedroom, working together to get their clothes off so that by the time they fell together onto the mattress, there was just the thin cotton of James’s boxers between them. Still way too much in the way of clothes, but nothing at all considering what they’d already blasted away in the past few minutes.

James lifted his hips to help get that last bit out of the way, and then finally Whit was kneeling between his legs, the pair of them naked and so very hard that James thought he might burst the second Whit touched him. It hadn’t been all that long, but it had never really felt like this before, and James was so glad Whit had left the light on so he could see the flex of muscles under fair skin as Whit stretched his long, slender body to reach the bedside drawer for the supplies.

“You’re so fucking gorgeous,” James said, the words like a prayer. “Why have I never told you that before?”

“Beats me,” Whit said. He kissed James’s chest, just above his heart.

“Well, you are.” Teasing fingers brushed the length of James’s cock, leaving cool traces of lube, and James would have arched right off the bed if Whit hadn’t been kneeling over him. It took more effort than it should have to keep going, but he managed. “Don’t know what you’re doing with someone like me.”

Whit chuckled. “You have your moments,” he said. And then those fingers pressed against James’s entrance, sliding in with easy practice after only a moment.

James’s eyes fell shut, trapping him in a world of darkness, sensation, and Whit. There was just Whit, kissing up his chest; Whit, spreading him open with plunging motions that made breathing almost impossible; Whit, whispering in his ear how much he wanted and needed James. James turned blindly, kissing him hungrily, tired of waiting to be filled with Whit's cock.

And then he got it.

At the first push of Whit’s cock, James clung tighter to him, trying to pull him in faster, deeper. It was the familiar old dance between them, James rushing and Whit dragging it out until James had pushed enough buttons to get his way, and for a moment they fell into it like always. But then Whit kissed the hollow of James’s throat, stilling them both.

“We’ll get there, babe,” he said, breathing softly over James’s sweat-damp skin. “I promise I’ll take care of you so long as you let me.”

At that, James opened his eyes and relaxed a little, head easing back on the pillow, one leg falling to the bed so Whit had a little more freedom. Whit’s smile said he knew that was as good as he was going to get this time around, but it was still welcome.

James rolled his eyes. “You are so lucky I’m crazy about you,” he said.

“Again with the stealing my line.” Whit thrust in deep, filling James completely and robbing him of any kind of comeback. Which was fine, because he so very full and complete, and the slow, deep thrusts Whit picked up were so perfect, lighting James up from the inside.

James ran his hands up Whit’s flanks, feeling each powerful thrust in the ripple of muscle and shock of penetration. Up he went, along Whit’s sides, to feel how hard he was breathing, his heart beating as wildly out of control as James’s. And then one hand cupped the side of Whit’s neck, pulling him in for a kiss, dragging him deeper.

“Oh, God.” Whit groaned, shuddering. “I can’t...”

Forehead to forehead, breath to breath, James forced enough coordination into his legs to plant his feet flat and push up, taking control with short thrusts. “It’s okay,” he murmured, hands running all over Whit’s back and shoulders. “It’s okay.”

“Yeah.” Whit’s arms slid under James, hands cupping his shoulders from behind so his next thrust, hard and deep and tooth-rattling, didn’t send James flying. At least not physically. The feeling of being damn-near split open on Whit’s cock had James almost incandescent with bliss, and he surrendered to it gladly, anchoring himself with his heels in the small of Whit’s back and fists in the sheets. He was so close already, had been from the moment Whit first pushed in, but now James couldn’t hold back any longer, not even if Whit had begged him.

James shoved a desperate hand between their bodies and wrapped it around his cock, jerking quickly. The hard length was slick with sweat, lube, and his own pre-come, and his hand moved easily as he brought himself off. Above him, he felt Whit start to come apart, heard his moans breaking down, and it wasn’t more than a couple of seconds longer that James joined him in a chorus of surrender, their voices blending perfectly.

It was long minutes before either of them could move, Whit pulling away to toss the condom while James wiped himself down with a handful of tissues; familiar motions despite the unfamiliar territory James now wanted, and hoped Whit had heard him asking for in the song.

Fortunately, he didn’t have to check. Whit just curled around him from behind like always, pulling the covers up over them like a shield against the rest of the world, and kissed the back of his shoulder, whispering, “If we do this, and you go off and get married again...”

“I promise, you’re the only one I wanna...” That hadn’t been what James had meant to say, but it was true, so he let it be and kept going. “Move in with me. I’ve got the space and I only ever feel right when you’re with me.”

Whit’s arm tightened around him, pulling him closer. “How about we just finish your album? We’ll pick out china patterns to match the new platinum record later.”

James snorted. “A working honeymoon, huh?”

“If I’ve got you all to myself, I might as well take advantage of it,” Whit said.

“Shut up and go to sleep.” James snuggled back as he said it. “We have work to do in the morning.”


From the liner notes of Where You Are:

...This new album is so very different than all the others before it, because it’s got more of me in it than any others. It took longer than I’d planned to write it, produce it, and finalize it, but what you hold in your hands is probably one of the most honest things I’ve ever done in my life. And to that end, I need to thank my manager, Scar Parrish, for riding me when I needed it and giving me space the rest of the time; the label for the creative space to do what needed doing; the Jimmy Johnson band for all their long hours and effort in and out of the studio; and my producer, Jenna Urban, for her tireless work and putting up with me leaning over her shoulder with my random ideas. And last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my writing partner and best friend, Whitney Turner, without whom none of this would have been possible. I love you, man. Thank you.


International woman of mystery and wearer of many hats, Elizabeth Silver is a writer, a nerd, a professional cat-herder, and a self-proclaimed Internet junkie. With her feet planted about halfway between New York and Philadelphia, Elizabeth has often been accused of having her head in the clouds, although what she’s really doing is just thinking really hard. Elizabeth can frequently be found at the local diners or coffee shops with free Internet access and bottomless refills, working on new story ideas. Online, Elizabeth can be found:

On her website and blog –
On Twitter - @LizSilverWrites
With the Dirty Birdies

Elizabeth’s books can be found at Loose Id, including her most recent release, Where the Heart Is, co-authored with Jenny Urban.