This story is updated monthly. You can be the first one to know when new chapters have been published.
“Fuck, man, don’t shoot.” I put my trembling hands up in surrender and a futile attempt to Force Push Johnny and his stupid gun out of my face. I’d been shot enough lately.
Johnny’s gun hand trembled, and he fidgeted like he might explode if he stood still for too long.
“You think you’re fucking special!” he shouted, his voice tight and strained like he was crying, and realizing he was red in the face, I thought maybe he was. “You come in here and fuck my girl like you own the place. Like you have a right?”
He pushed the nose of the gun to my already sore cheek, and I turned my head, pulling back into the pillows as though half an inch of distance could save me from a bullet.
“Fuck you,” he growled. “I’ll blow your head off right here.”
I knew two things in that moment: 1) Jess wasn’t “Johnny’s girl,” and 2) I absolutely should not say that.
“Shit. You’re right. You’re right.” Give him what he wants, I thought. But what the fuck could I give him now? I
Maybe I could stumble my way into it. I said, “I came in uninvited, and I disrespected you. I get it. You want me to leave? You want me to put in a good word with Jess?” With my head turned, I couldn’t see him or his face, but I could hear him sniffling. Yeah. He was crying.
When he didn’t answer right away, I got scared the pot wasn’t sweet enough. I thought of what I could do that he clearly couldn’t; I should have kept my mouth shut.
“I can tell you how to blow her mind in the sack,” I said. It was a genuine offer, but Johnny’s battered and bruised ego couldn’t handle it, and to top it off, I’m a big fucknig idiot.
The gun lifted off my face, and then I felt a flash of cold steel in the middle of my dick.
“How about I shoot your dick off first?”
“No!” I scrambled away across the bed, only managing a few inches of distance with Johnny on my case. “Look. I just meant—” I tried to hold my hand up between my dick and the gun. I wanted to bolt, but I also wasn’t interested in finding out if a vampire could grow his dick back. I’d rather be shot in the head. “I just meant you could—like, I’m trying to give you all the tools you can get to win her back.”
“Sex tips ain’t gonna win her over.”
“Oh, it’s gonna hurt.” He cocked the gun.
“Ah!” I shouted at him with a wagging finger, the way you berate a dog for trying to sneak food off the counter.
Somehow it worked, at least momentarily, and I scrambled my lucky, bare ass the rest of the way to my feet, backing toward the door, just praying I wouldn’t trip over half a Big Mac or whatever other garbage was between me and the exit. I glanced at the curtains for signs of sunlight around the windows. It seemed dark enough. Jess must have been at work. I knew she’d be in there going gorilla on Johnny if she was around to witness this bullshit.
Johnny advanced with the gun pointed at my chest again, rounding the bed while I continued to back my way out. He closed the distance quickly until I bumped my ass into the couch, and he pressed the barrel to my bandage.
“I oughta kill you. I want to. I’ve always wanted to. Mr. High and Mighty.”
I stood silently. He could just kill me if that’s what he really wanted. He didn’t have to wake me up. He didn’t have to villain speech me. If he wanted me dead, I would be already. Right?
My breath shook, and my heart raced to deliver that much needed adrenaline.
His wet eyes stared at the place where the gun met my gauze, and I ignored the deep pain in my nearly-healed wound while I watched him debating on shooting me.
I had to guess there wasn’t a voice in his head on my side of all this. “You really think shooting me is gonna get her to want you?” I waited a second to see if I was helping or hurting myself.
His lip bulged as his tongue ran over his fangs.
I continued. “Why don’t you start with throwing away a taco wrapper? Hell, I’d blow you if you did that. I can’t imagine how excited Jess would be to know you vacuumed for once in your fucking life.”
He lifted his chin, finished sucking on his teeth and stepped back. He lifted the gun with one hand and brought up the other hand to support it, taking serious aim with a look of resolve—still, calm, quiet, finger on the trigger, frightening. “You have three seconds to get out of here, and then I shoot.”
I stepped away from the couch, taking an entire valuable second to compute what he’d just said. I was off?
Fuck. I turned and found the keys to Jackie’s Porsche on the counter where I’d left them…right next to the cigarette I couldn’t find last night.
I snatched them both, aiming my naked ass for the door. The cigarette dropped to the ground. I stopped to go back for it.
I realized I’m a fucking idiot and made for the door again. But goddamn did I need a fucking cigarette.
I slammed the door behind myself, and that didn’t stop Johnny from firing the gun at the door four times in a row. I ran for the stairs, down two flights and shoved my way through the door to the apartment building—out into the sunlight.
I screamed at the instant burning sensation, eyes squeezing shut, and knowing I couldn’t go back in, I kept on, hoping to find a dumpster or some other cover before I… exploded or whatever. I didn’t actually know what would happen to a vampire in the sunlight. It wasn’t like they went into it often.
The brightness subsided almost right away, and when I opened my eyes, I found that the sun was setting, and the buildings on the other side of the lot were what was blocking the sun from me now. It was brighter than my eyes were used to, but I quickly located Jackie’s Porsche and the stripe of sun on the driver’s side. I got in through the passenger seat. I huffed and puffed with sore lungs, a huge dose of adrenaline and a burning and itching left arm and left side of my torso. Carefully, I tested out with the same arm whether it would burn in the sunlight leaking through to the driver’s seat. The tinted windows must have been doing their job. Glancing out the windshield back at the building for signs of Johnny, I repeated the fuck word under my breath repeatedly until I was positioned behind the wheel and throwing the car in gear.
After some reckless driving, poor attempts at using the clutch, and a little bit of deliberation, I drove to Ras’s. I knew he’d help me, and Jackie lived with him, so it was a good way to return the Porsche, not that I wanted to. By the time I pulled in the driveway, it was twilight, but not any more painful or dangerous to be outside than it would have been in true darkness.
I stopped on the porch. I wasn’t ready to talk to Ras after finding out he’d been lying to me for over a decade. I didn’t want to beg him for help. I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to forget the last few days had happened and go back to smoking and fucking and drinking like I was doing a few days ago, like I’d been doing for years. Before I was shot. Before Jess destroyed my living room. Before Seth got killed…
I stood still for a moment, allowing that thought to truly sink in for the first time since I’d heard he was dead.
But I cut myself off. I didn’t have time to think about it. He didn’t matter. He didn’t mean anything to me. Nobody did.
I put my mind back on the task at hand, scratching at my side and arm where it was swollen. What was I gonna say to Ras? I had to confront him about him coming between me and Matthew. Should I bust in there and shout him down? The silent treatment? Punch him in his goddamned face?
I could hear muffled voices through the door. They weren’t that close, but if I listened hard, I could make out Jackie’s voice and Ras’s, and another one on speakerphone that was harder to distinguish.
“That’s why I want your help,” Ras said. “Lai can’t stick around here, and you know that.”
I stepped closer to the door and pressed my ear to it to get the next line.
“I don’t see why it’s my problem,” said the phone voice. After a few seconds, I put together that it was Micah.
“Come on, Micaiah,” Jackie purred. “I know you’re not Lai’s sire, but would you keep him safe for me?”
I had to admire Jackie’s seductive prowess. And just everything about Jackie, really. I had to stop scratching my swollen, itchy arm for a second to hear the voice coming through on the speakerphone.
“I don’t see why it’s your problem either,” Micah said.
“Please, Mr. Castagnier,” Ras said, his voice wracked with desperation. “You know how dangerous Matthew is. You helped him before. This is just to make sure all the work you did wasn’t for nothing.”
My arm had swollen up so much, the hospital bracelet now pressed into my skin, and every part of my left arm from elbow to wrist was red and in pain. The rash on my body was following suit. I think it was spreading.
I let myself in through the front door, scratching heavily at my arm and chest and hip and leg and fuck it was terrible everywhere.
Ras and Jackie both turned to face me as I stood scratching, and I could hear Micah sigh on the phone between them. “I can arrange any travel arrangements he needs,” he said, “but I can’t keep the state police force off his case. I’ve tried.”
“Lai,” Ras said, standing up from his stool and hobbling a few steps in my direction. It was weird these days to see him without his cane.
“It’s a long story,” I said.
“Get him some clothes,” Ras said to Jackie.
“Micah, he’s here,” Jackie said, her eyes on me while she leaned toward the phone. She looked Ras over, and with a nod, she left the room.
Micah’s voice chimed in again. “Is he all right?” He sounded exasperated, but not angry, which was unusual for him as far as I knew.
“Why are you scratching?” Ras finally came to my side and guided me to the couch, offering a seat with a bit of reluctance.
“I got a little dose of sun. No big deal probably,” I said. I hissed as I broke the skin on my forearm from scratching so hard. The hospital bracelet was tight now. I didn’t want to sit down.
“Jackie. Benadryl,” Ras called out. His eyebrows dipped in as he took my arm from me. “How long were you in the sun?” His eyes skimmed over the rash on my hip and leg and then to the other side of me, searching for more rash.
“A few seconds.”
Jackie came out with a pair of gray sweatpants and a white t-shirt. She shoved them into my hands and then started pouring benadryl tablets into her hand. “Take these. They’ll keep it from spreading.”
I had hardly unfolded the pants before she was trying to put the tablets straight into my mouth. I grabbed her by the wrist to stop her. “I got it, I got it.” I let her pour the handful of pills into my palm, maybe a dozen of them, and then I swallowed them two at a time. “This seems like a lot.”
Ras brought me a glass of water. “Better than not enough. You might get drowsy, but at least you won’t be dead.” Funny coming from the one who told everyone I died.
“Is he going to be all right?” Micah asked with more force than before.
“He’s gonna be fine,” Jackie said. I was glad she sounded confident about it.
I finished my pills and pulled on my clothes. The medicine didn’t help instantly, but since they seemed to know what they were talking about, I felt slightly better just for taking something. Very slightly.
“Laisellus,” Micah said, once things calmed down. “I’ve been discussing your situation with your brother, and we’ve decided—”
I scoffed. “You’re deciding things about my situation now? Oh wait. Not now. Since forever. Since I’m apparently dead and all.” I turned to Ras. “Is that why Mom never called me? Does she think I’m dead too?”
Ras frowned, and took too long to finally open his mouth to speak.
I waved my swollen hand at him and shook my head, turning to look back at the phone on the island. “So tell me, Micah. What did you decide for me this time? Do I get to come back from the dead? That sounds pretty fucking sweet.”
Micah sighed. “Your faked death was for your own good.”
“Any reason I couldn’t be in on that good thing I didn’t know anything about for twelve years?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Micah said. “It happened, and now you know. There are more important things to concern yourself with right now. The state police have managed to connect your case with an incident you’re suspect in from Northern California a few years ago. I have full control of how vampire crimes are handled in the City of Los Angeles, but only if the county and the state don’t claim jurisdiction. Even the county can be dealt with, but…”
“Micah hasn’t exactly rubbed the California State Police the right way,” Jackie filled in.
Micah fell quiet.
Ras sucked in a breath, and I spun to look at him. “No. You don’t get to say anything.” I waited to make sure he was going to stay silent, and then I looked at the phone one last time. “I’m not sure why they’d be after me. I’m the victim. I was the one who got shot. Jess—” I shut up, not wanting to incriminate her, though I worried I’d already said too much. “Look. It wasn’t me, and I haven’t done anything in North Cal anyway. They’ve got the wrong guy.”
“You partied in the Bay area. Probably someone you fed on?” Ras asked, his voice soft.
I scowled at him. “Whatever. I’m innocent, and the cops can eat my ass.” I hung up the phone on Micah. I faced Ras. “I don’t know why you think you can take over my life, but you’re done. Matthew left me because of you—”
“Exactly!” Ras stepped forward to interrupt, desperation once again in his voice and now in his pleading eyes. “If you want to talk about someone taking over your life, just look at Matthew. All that shit he did to you, and you worshipped the ground he walked on—”
“Because I loved him!” I screamed it so loud, the silence that came after hurt. All I could hear was my own ragged breathing and my heart still pumping furiously in my chest.
The phone rang. Probably Micah calling back. Nobody moved to answer it.
“He would have killed you,” Ras said. “Don’t think he won’t still try.”
I lifted my chin, fixing him with an incredulous half-smile. “He’s not the one who gave me a headstone.”
I did my best to blame my watery eyes on the reaction I was having to the sun or on the benadryl. I wiped my face on my good arm and checked out my bad one. Was I gonna die from sun exposure? Maybe it was a shame I hadn’t stood out there longer.
I stormed past Ras to the door and stopped after it was open to look at him. “Stop trying to help me.”
I slammed the door shut on my way out. The phone kept ringing.
It’s November aka National Novel Writing Month. So guess what I’m doing!
Youuu guessed it (probably)! I’m working on In Lieu of Underwear, a Vampire Story this month. I’ve been posting chapters monthly and therefore writing them monthly…And that’s a long time in between story bits for me so I can only imagine how frustrating it might be for the readers like you to have to wait! If I’m forgetting what I want to write next before I actually write it, then you’re probably at least forgetting what happened a month ago. I committed to one chapter a month because I knew I could manage that much writing, but I didn’t think about the complications so much time in between would cause. Not only is there a lot of forgetting going on, but it’s interfering with my other writing projects!
I thought by only writing/releasing one chapter per month, I would have plenty of time the rest of each month to commit to working on Destroying Eden. While this effort hasn’t been entirely fruitless, I do know that wanting to work on one when I feel I should be working on the other has the ultimate effect of allowing me to wind up working on neither! Yay perfectionsim! Yay anxiety! Yay the crippling pressure of no one but my own brain! 😀
So I’m committing myself to writing the rest of ILU in one month. I had never intended a story about Lai to be my first novel, but it looks like it’s going to be. I’m a little scared, but I am so so so excited!
If you haven’t seen it yet, I posted the newest chapter (Chapter 6!) of ILU on Halloween!
I’m a little undecided on what will happen after NaNoWriMo. I will need to revise the novel, perhaps more than usual because I won’t have been revising each chapter as I go the way that I do when releasing monthly. I don’t want to be too ambitious in my promises to you, but I also firmly believe that having written the entire novel should result in one of the following:
Ideally, I will continue to release chapters on a regular basis, but will release a complete book so those who want to finish it off can do so in a more binge-like fashion. We’ll see how revisions go.
Speaking of releasing new chapters, Chapter 7 is on deck, and I’m only going to make you wait until NEXT SATURDAY for it! It’s written, it needs a little more revision, but then it’s ready to go. Keep an eye out.
For now, I’ll leave you one ILU tidbit – Lai’s theme song.
He’s my…most precious baby, and he’s existed for a long time, for more than just this story. This song is just so fitting, and I hope one day you’ll be able to share in all of the reasons why.
Anything else you want to know about Lai? I’ve got a post coming up that could potentially fit some more bonus info about him into it, so if you have any questions I can answer, especially without spoiling things, let me know! Thanks for reading!
This story is updated monthly. You can be the first one to know when new chapters have been published.
“The best way to get what you want out of someone is to do whatever they want,” Matthew whispered to me. I didn’t realize at the time that Matthew was bestowing upon me his biggest secret.
It was 1990, and he stood behind me while I stared at the frat house door. What he said was some sort of last-minute, good luck wisdom for rushing Rho Theta Nu. I had put on a stupid, boxy suit my dad owned from the 80s, and I was not looking forward to trying to get guys way cooler than me to like me, even with Matthew, the president of the fraternity, on my side.
“I’m doing this for you, you know,” I said.
“And later you can have anything you want,” he purred softly. He kissed the back of my neck, and I flinched away, glancing around for onlookers. I didn’t want to let anyone know I was like that.
“Congrats, bro. You’re a Rho Theta Asshole now,” my brother said at the dinner table after a successful rush. He sat across from me while his girlfriend Alexis sat to my left, quietly eating from her bowl while maintaining a polite level of interest in our conversation.
I rolled my eyes at Ras and glanced at Alexis and her pretty blonde hair and tight fucking body, sitting next to me while I poked a spoon at my chili—the only thing Ras knew how to cook that tasted any good, and dinner that night was the last bits of a batch that had lasted a week.
“Your brother’s the one that nominated me. Or voted me in or whatever,” I said to Alexis.
“Just further proof the house is full of assholes,” Ras interjected. He shoveled three hefty spoonfuls of chili into his mouth in a row.
He was the cool guy back then. The one who was successful and smart and had luck in relationships. He was athletic and handsome and a fucking asshole.
“He’s not always an asshole,” Alexis defended, though with little conviction. She wiped her mouth with her napkin and then smiled at me. “I’m happy for you. When do you move out?”
:”I guess soon.” I hadn’t actually expected to make it in, but I suppose I’d committed myself already to Rho Theta Nu.
I pushed my glasses up my nose with a finger to the corner of the frames. They were thick and out-of-fashion, but I didn’t really care. I couldn’t see much without them. Ras got all the eyesight too. Son of a bitch.
Speaking of said bitch, she trudged into the room in her annoyingly small, rapid steps. Yet somehow every one seemed heavier than the last. Her light brown hair was pulled tight to her head with a tiny bun held in place in the back by black bobby pins. Her eyes were brown and bright despite the scowl on her face.
“Which one of you boys told your father you’d bring him orange juice? He’s been waiting 20 minutes.”
Ras jumped up. “Oh shit. Sorry, Mom.”
The way she visibly relaxed when she saw it was Ras who’d been the one to fuck up made me roll my eyes again. I dug back into my food, forcing myself to eat because if my mouth was full, I had an excuse not to answer when she inevitably turned her attention on me.
When Ras took off down the hall with Dad’s OJ, that’s when she struck. She tossed a dish towel over her shoulder, and even though I couldn’t see it, I could feel her looking me over with sharp eyes from her place across the kitchen.
“Your father’s lighter went missing. Have you seen it?”
I took my time, slurping chili off my spoon and taking a bite, slowly chewing, and then finally swallowing and wiping my mouth. “Nope.”
She stood quietly for a moment. “I thought you had a friend coming for dinner. What’s his name? Michael?”
“Matthew. And he didn’t want to eat chili. He’s a vegetarian.”
“I bet he’s skinny as a rail too,” she said in a huff. She turned to the sink and started on the dishes. “What does he like to eat? I’ll—”
The doorbell rang. I dropped my spoon into my bowl with a clank and jumped up to get the door, happy to put a wall between myself and my mother. Not much put a spring in my step back then. But Matthew did.
I opened the door with a smile, and Matthew, seeing my face, smiled back. Something inside me perforated, and I quickly filled up with the dopamine that poured out. It was all I could do to keep from telling him to smile at me forever. It was the only thing I wanted.
Matthew’s eyes found my unbuttoned collar. “Oh,” he said. “You took off your tie. After all that hard work I put into getting it on you.” The amused creases by his eyes let me know he was joking. He reached out and touched the collar. His face became a little more serious. “And you have a stain.”
“What?” I pulled my chin back as far as I could while he pulled the collar out in an attempt to show me the spot of chili on my white shirt. “Great.”
“Don’t worry about it.” He dragged his finger down to my first fastened shirt button and fiddled with it until it was undone. His eyes shimmered with mischief and he looked up at me from under his gorgeous lashes. He spoke softly, above a whisper. “It’s a good excuse to see you without a shirt.”
A lopsided smile plastered itself to my face. “Yeah?”
“So can I come in?”
I stepped aside quickly. “Yeah, yeah. Come on in.”
The living room was over-decorated with chickens, plaid, and white wicker in the form of various baskets full of ceramic eggs and the most uncomfortable matching set of sofas and tables that existed. The pendulum of the clock ticked in a pleasant rhythm over the entertainment center my mom had made me paint white last summer, insisting I needed to get “out of the house” after a girl had broken up with me.
“Somebody likes cocks,” Matthew said, poking the beak of a rooster statue on top of the stereo speaker.
I scoffed. “Don’t be gross. Come on. My room is this way.”
We had to walk through the kitchen to get to the hall that led back to my room. My mother shut off the sink when we stepped in. Ras was in the middle of clearing the table. He opened his mouth to speak, but his eyes fell on Matthew.
“What’s he doing here?” he asked.
Alexis stepped around the table and rescued my unfinished bowl from him. “Ras, they’re friends,” she said gently. She smiled at us both, and I melted all over again. I wasn’t crazy about everyone, but somehow I was in the room with the two people my body went craziest for.
“Hi, Matthew,” Alexis said. “How was Rush?”
“Fantastic. We have the best new edition so far,” he replied, clapping his hand on my shoulder.
“New addition? Lai, did you join a fraternity?” Mom stepped closer, and her voice wavered on the edge of hysterical. She looked him over with appraising eyes. With acid in her tone, she greeted him. “Hello, Matthew.”
“Mrs. Martire,” he said, sounding delighted as though it was a surprise to see her in her own kitchen. “It’s lovely to finally meet you. I’m sorry I couldn’t make it for dinner. It does smell delicious.”
“Apparently you wouldn’t have liked it anyhow,” she muttered.
She hadn’t always been that way. There was a time before Dad had cancer that she was all smiles, mostly fake ones, but that bitterness for the world stayed hidden behind them instead of on display. I liked her scowling better. I could respect the honesty even if we fought like rabid animals more often than not.
“Let me help you with the dishes,” Matthew said.
She shook her head. “Lai will do them. I’m going to go lie down and watch my programs with your father. Don’t be loud.” She said it to me and to Ras.
I stayed quiet until she was gone. But she came back. “It was nice to meet you, Matthew. Let Laisellus know what you like, and I’ll make it next week.” She said it more gently than she’d ever said anything to me. I stepped away to take my bowl back from Alexis and I took it to clean it up in the sink.
Ras and Alexis finished cleaning up and went back to the living room. Matthew stepped up next to me at the sink.
“You’re learning,” he said. He reached to take the bowl from me.
I pulled it away. “I’ll do it.”
He quietly appraised me for a few seconds, and I glanced over to look at his face. He was three inches shorter than me, and there was something electric in his gaze that made me need to look at his eyes, dark and beautiful, magnetic and daring. Confident. Sexy. Dangerous.
“You’re the reason I made it in,” I said, referring to the event earlier. “You told Adam to bid on me, didn’t you?”
He put on an easy grin. One that made me feel silly for doubting him. “I promised you it would be as genuine a process as possible, didn’t I? I’m not sure why you don’t want the help I can give, but this win was all on you. I swear it.” He took the bowl from me, this time successfully.
I let my mouth hang open, having trouble objecting to his help. “My mom told me to do it. She wouldn’t like me letting you help.”
He pressed a finger to my lips. My heart thumped in my throat like maybe it could bust out and kiss him the way I wanted to when he stood so close.
“Then she won’t find out,” he said. Matthew turned to the sink and helped me wash the rest of the dishes, and when we finished, I showed him to my room.
I hadn’t shown him sooner because I was embarrassed. My room was full of all the tell-tale signs of a nerd, Star Wars paraphernalia pretty much anywhere you looked, most of it vintage from seeing it and being obsessed with it when it first came out. The one thing Ras and I could really bond over, even to that day.
My other nerdy hobby was on display on my bedside table: an erotic novel with a very typical cover and a “Happy 20th Birthday” card signed “Mom and Dad” from that summer wedged into it to save my page. It was the only thing out of place, if you could call it that, as I maintained an immaculate living space, things put where they belonged, carpet vacuumed every other day, shelves and blinds dusted just as often, bed made, laundry cleaned and ironed and put away, and decor routinely rotated when I got tired of it (not that I could ever get tired of Star Wars).
I stepped into the middle of the room and did a slow spin with my arm out to show Matthew that… this was it. I had a full-size bed pressed into the corner, with the door and my dresser on the opposite long wall, and the closet on the opposite short wall, the window lining up with the center of my bed where I sometimes woke up from kicking it in my sleep.
Matthew shut the door on his way in and his face showed nothing but delight as he took in everything.
“Big room,” he said.
“Really? I always thought I could use a bigger one.” I had a lot of stuff.
“It’s twice the size of the room I grew up in. Though I did tend to have the whole house to myself, so I suppose it never bothered me.”
I took a seat on the edge of the bed, watching him as he wandered the room, carefully picking up Star Wars nick-nacks and examining them while he spoke. “So your mom and dad were never home?”
He glanced at me. “I never knew my father, and I’d wager my mother didn’t either.” He shrugged and set the X-wing back in its place, adjusting it until it sat in just the same position it had been in to begin with. “My mother regularly left me alone for a week at a time. She had more important things to do, I guess. I didn’t mind.”
“I’d love it if my mom left me alone for a whole week.”
He chuckled, and putting his hands into his pants pockets, he meandered toward me. Once he got to my side, Matthew sat on the bed next to me.
“So what do you want from me?” he asked, and when he saw my confusion he took my hand and continued. “I mean from earlier? When I said you could have anything. Have you thought about it?”
“Oh,” I said. I thought about it, looking at his face. “Not really.”
“Not at all?” Matthew tilted his head, and his eyes glanced over my lips. “I can make a few suggestions.”
He leaned toward me, and I thought he would stop to say something in a raspy, sultry voice, but instead, he kept going until his soft mouth caressed mine, slow like he always was until I finally got the courage to kiss him back. But this time, my parents were in the next room watching L.A. Law, and my heart beat my ribcage like a frantic marimba solo.
Matthew eased me onto my back, and climbed over me, legs on either side of my hips, to bend down and kiss me more. When my hands didn’t know where to go, he put them on his waist or his hips or his arms. When my glasses got in the way, he plucked them gently from my face and carefully set them on the table. When my shirt was in his way, he unbuttoned it and pushed it off my shoulders.
He unfastened my belt and reached his hand into my pants to caress the bulge in my underwear, and when I whimpered, he sat back with a huge smile. “Any ideas yet?”
“Maybe a few,” I said, my hands pushing up from his knees, across his thighs, to his hips.
“I’ll do all of them,” he said. “Anything you want. Even some of the things in this book.” He lifted my novel from the table, and I blushed.
“Shh. You’re not supposed to know I read that.”
“That bad, huh?”
He licked his lips, and with that cat-like smile, he slithered down to kiss me again, once, nipping at my lower lip. “If it makes you feel better, I can forget you read those novels. I can forget you can read at all.”
I snorted. “I’ll settle for…” It was hard to get myself to just say it, but I gathered up the courage. “A blowjob.”
“Predictable,” Matthew said. “Just one?”
“You can really only do one at a time, right?”
He laughed. “We’ll just play it by ear then.”
And that’s what we did. He let me blow my load in his mouth while I laid on the bed, and then a while later, I shushed him incessantly while I fucked him on his back. I froze when I heard people in the hall, but eventually, with some coaxing, I didn’t care anymore, at least not in that moment, and when we were done, we both faced the window, and I spooned him, unable to bring myself to request a reverse in cuddle positions.
In my hazy post-coital near-sleep, my thoughts wandered back to earlier that day, and what Matthew had said to me before Rush, and I found myself thinking: what did Matthew really want from me?
I know this Satórday post is coming to you late, and it’s not a new chapter of In Lieu of Underwear. I had intended it to be, but I’m here to tell you why it’s not.
When I started In Lieu of Underwear, I made the impulsive decision to turn it into a novel that I would be posting a chapter of once a month or every few weeks—I hadn’t really decided on a frequency yet at the time. I even wrote Chapter 1 on a whim. You may have read the prequel chapter of ILU (and if you haven’t, download it now and read it!). This chapter was originally a self-aware story that I wrote for a survey writing course I took in grad school. I thought I would post it one Satórday for you all to read, so I revised it. And then I decided I didn’t want to post it, and I wrote what happened immediately afterward, which involved Lai (my most precious brain child that I have used for role playing for years), and Jess.
I posted Chapter 1 and decided I would update regularly and it would be an okay story.
But I’m a perfectionist, you see, and the reason I didn’t have a novel-in-progress with Lai in it was because I know early novels don’t tend to get as much success as second and third novels, and he deserved the recognition more than any other character (next in line is Nathaniel, who is the protagonist for Lost Blood which… is on the back burner). So I couldn’t just write whatever and have that be his legacy. I know where his story is going. I’ve already role played some very important experiences for him, and so he’s immediately intertwined with the characters of other writers. So I contacted author D.B. Graves, and I said, “You have to help me with this story because I can’t do it without you.”
This has resulted in at least one multi-hour in-depth voice chat per month regarding the story and where we want it to go and how we want it to get there. It gets better every time, and if you’ve paid attention to the blurb I’ve had posted for ILU, you’ll have noticed that it’s changed a few times as we carve out our plans what’s to come. I just printed a bunch of flyers with the newest blurb, and now that’s only mostly accurate to the plot we’ve got in store.
All that said, before Friday, when we had our last conversation about it, I had been listening to Story Grid Podcast, which is a podcast I’ve admired for years. Story Grid is a book written by Shawn Coyne who has over 25 years of experience as a big publishing editor and has found a way to take a left-brain view of a right-brained activity (writing) and put it into words for us. The podcast is primarily hosted by Tim Grahl who says he’s “a struggling writer, trying to figure out how to write a story that works.” He chats with Shawn throughout the podcast, and they even go through his story bit by bit, applying the Story Grid framework to it. This is something that I truly appreciate it. While Shawn, on the podcast, will explain an aspect of it, Tim will ask questions from the perspective of a new/struggling writer…because that’s what he is! It’s as close to being in the same room as Shawn Coyne to ask him your questions as most of us will get.
So one of the major tenets of the Story Grid “system” is that genre is one of the first things you should consider about your story. They get very in-depth, but basically there are many aspects to genre, but the one I became obsessed with last week was the content genre. I wanted to be able to say something like “This is a love story” or “This is an action story.” Nice and simple.
Of course, it was not simple. I read article after article on the Story Grid website trying to decipher what each genre even was before I could try to delineate which ones added up to make my particular story, and whether the ones that it leaned towards were even the kinds of story I wanted to tell. According to Story Grid, the genre is determined in large part by the spectrum of value that the story hinges on, though multiple genres share the same value spectrum. So action, horror, and thriller stories (and maybe more) all have similar value shifts that they must always be focused on, and that is Life/Unconsciousness/Death/Damnation (or a fate worse than death).
On top of that, each story has not just an external content genre (such as love or action), but also an internal content genre (e.g. status, morality, or worldview). Do you need to know all of this? Maybe not. But these are the layers of complication I was wading through on Friday night when I went to work on my story.
So D.B. and I struggled for hours to narrow down the genre, reworked the entire plot, and then we had to disconnect, and I did hours more of genre research afterward.
So what did I determine the genre is? I think we have three genres, but the global genre that determines the course of the story is Worldview. This breaks down into subgenres, and I’m sure it’s one of them, but they all sounded like the same thing worded in different ways to me, so I decided to split those hairs later. The next genre is Love, and that is followed by Action. I don’t know if you’re supposed to order them by importance, but that’s what I’ve done here.
Now with that in mind, I have some things to change about my plans for Chapter 6, and that (along with having a busy day of driving an hour to promote at the event Hearses of Hades in Greenville, IL on Saturday and napping for five hours after driving the hour back), is why there’s not a new chapter this weekend. Rest assured, however, that I’m not going to give my boy Lai a bad story, and this kind of delay is in service of his story. I’ll spend this week making sure what comes next is worth reading and gets us to the juicier stuff that comes later.
If this doesn’t solidify my status as a Plantser, I don’t know what does.
I was trying to write a different blog post, but instead, I wrote this creepy nanofic instead. Spooky season is here, folks. Enjoy.
Sometimes I forget things. She doesn’t like that. She says I should remember everything, and I should prepare for anything. She says I must do nothing. She says I must not try. She says if I try, he will come. He will knock. He will bring his little dark box. He will unleash its shadows on me, and I will die, or worse. She says I am the reason he comes. It is my fault. It is my fault she is so afraid.
I must feel ashamed for summoning him.
I must never answer the door.
I must no longer try.
I must either do, or do nothing.
She prefers I do nothing. He will not—perhaps he cannot—knock if I do nothing. I do not know. Sometimes, I forget things.
He only comes when no one wants him. He doesn’t come all the time. But sometimes I forget that. Sometimes, when I’m not sure I can do, and I know that I cannot do nothing, I try. Sometimes I try, and he knocks. Sometimes I try, and he does not knock. Sometimes I do, and still he knocks. Sometimes I do nothing. When I do nothing, he does not knock.
I think about him while I cry in my room.
I do not like to cry. It means I am weak. If I am weak, then when I try, he will knock.
That is what happens today. I try. She wails. I cry. I do not want to cry. I always cry. Today, I rush to the window to see him, tears stroking my face.
He comes. I see him. I dry my face with my knuckles. I have not met him before—although, sometimes I forget things—but I see him now. I see his little box. It fits nicely in his hands. He does not look how I expect. He has kind, but weary eyes.
He sees me too.
I see him. He is holding his box. He does not look scary. I tell her this.
She says things don’t always look how they are. She says he will kill me. He will use his box on me. I should never look at him again. We will hide forever.
…But I do not want to hide forever.
I open the door. He is gone. His box sits on the porch. I stoop down, and I lift it. It fits nicely in my hands. She lingers close, looking at the box with my eyes, but she stays quiet.
I open the lid.
Sometimes, I forget things. I know that. I decide I will remember this. I tuck the box close to my heart. I close the door. She stays quiet—I like it when she stays quiet—and then, she wilts into a bulb. Small. Manageable.
I take the box to my room. I look at it. I no longer want to cry. I learn from it, I think. The fear has shrank away, now a tulip bulb in my palm. I place her in the box. Maybe this is what being whole feels like.
All I had to do was open the door and look in the box.
Sometimes, I forget things. But I will remember this.
Or at least—I will try.
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