Monday, December 9, 2013
The Lusty Ladies of Talbot's Peak Present ...
“Is this everybody?” Mistress Penelope did a slow-mo turn in Java Joe’s cramped back room, more to show off her skintight rhinestoned catsuit than to do a check of the roster. Satisfied on both counts, Penelope announced, “All right, then. This meeting of the Talbot’s Peak Ladies Society Wednesday Afternoon Book Club is hereby called to order.”
“That's ten minutes right there," Ziva said. "We need a shorter name."
Jamie raised his hand. “Point of order here. I ain’t no lady.”
“None of us is, sweetie. It’s just an expression. And we had a shorter name, but the Lusty Ladies Book Meet got us too much of the wrong attention.”
Mary Ewing waved for an explanation. “Men wanted in,” Penelope said, moving her lips slowly so Mary could follow. “They weren’t into reading, either.”
“Unless the book in question was The Joy of Sex.” Greely made a face. “I dated one of those guys once. ‘Joy’ and ‘sex’ were mutually exclusive terms in his case.”
“Now that we’ve discouraged the bad element,” Penelope said, “we can get on with our meetings in peace. Get to the good stuff, as it were.” She took her seat and crossed her legs in a prim move that made Ziva snicker. “Who wants to start?”
To no one’s surprise, Jamie raised his hand again. “Another classic from—” Ziva coughed into her hand. “Tempest Arouz?”
“Why don’t we just cut the crap? It’s Lamar. Everybody knows it.”
“I’m all for it. I like a good male-on-male tale,” Penelope said. Heads nodded around the circle. “Is he going to write another one about Dillon and Coltrain?”
“As a matter of fact … ” Jamie stood. He faced Mary so she could read his lips, but spoke to the entire group. He held up a sheaf of papers. “Lamar just sent this one off to his publisher. It doesn’t even have a cover yet.” He shot a glance at Penelope. “You’ll probably want to make one up.”
“If it has hot parts. Does it have hot parts?”
“C'mon. Lamar wrote it. It’s all one big hot part. The readers get so wiped out by the time the real sex happens it’s like overkill.”
Ziva leaned forward, nearly tipping her coffee mug. “Does Dillon stop being the world’s biggest douche and finally admit how much Colt means to him?”
"You know I can't spill that. We’re going for a series here. Y’can’t throw everything into the pot first time out. What’ll you do in the next six books?”
Penelope immediately pounced on the “we” and got the hot blush she was looking for. “I’m helping out with this one. Kind’a. Colt’s a photographer. Lamar keeps bugging me for tips.”
“I’ll just bet he does,” Penelope murmured. “Speaking of tips, have you had a chance to test that advice I gave you?”
Just when you thought a red wolf couldn’t get any redder. All the ladies giggled at the tint of Jamie’s skin. “I thought we were talking about fiction here.”
Taking pity, Penelope said, “All right. Back to the business at hand.”
“Does he?” Greely asked. “With his hand. That scene in the last book was one of my favorites.”
“It goes a ways past hands in this one. If I say any more I’ll wreck the plot.”
Mary was gesturing frantically. “Out the door and to your right,” Ziva said.”
“Ain’t that,” Jamie said. “You haven’t read this series yet, have you? Okay. Dillon’s a cop and Colt’s a crime photographer. They solve mysteries, then they—” At a loss for the word for “fuck” in sign language, Jamie settled for jabbing his forefinger through a circle of his thumb and index finger. Mary nodded, understanding.
"Dillon’s a real hard case,” Greely said. “Closeted as all get out.”
“Can’t imagine who Lamar based him on,” Ziva said.
“And where’s the hot Latin sex?” Penelope said. “Lamar always writes these smoldering Hispanic characters. Dillon and Coltrain? Has he gone Anglo on us?”
“Dillon’s mom was an illegal Mexican. It’s one of the secrets he keeps bottled up. It’s why he’s so randy in bed. All that frustration’s gotta blow off somehow.”
Greely bounced up and down on her chair. “Excerpt! Excerpt!”
“Lessee.” Jamie riffled through the pages. He cleared his throat. “Dillon ripped the newspaper from Colt’s hands. ‘I don’t want to read about it,’ he growled. ‘I want to do it. I want to do you.’ ’So what’s stopping you?’ Colt said. 'This.’ Dillon tore Colt’s belt away and practically ripped the zipper down its length. ‘And this.’ He hooked his fingers into the elastic rim of Colt’s briefs. His eyes dared Colt to stop him, to tell him anything but yes.” Jamie looked up from the pages. “You hear something?”
“Just my heartbeat and a lot of ragged breathing,” Ziva said. “Don’t stop now.”
Suddenly the ventilation grate near the ceiling popped off. A huge snake slithered down the wall to form a coil on the floor. The coil reared up and turned into Lamar. He glowered at Jamie.“So this is what you do on Wednesdays. Darkroom, my ass.”
“It’s a room,” Jamie stammered. “It’s dark.”
“This is why you can’t be with me? Because you have to be with—” He looked around. “Hey. You’re all women.”
“Last time we checked.” Penelope took command. “We’re a book club. We’re big fans of Tempest Arouz and her work. I’m the one who coerced Jamie into giving us previews. You’re fast, but it’s still a long wait between books.”
“And we’re going nuts with this whole Dillon/Coltrain thing,” Greely put in. “They should … ” She broke off and stared at the nothing between Lamar’s legs. “Where’s your ding-dong?”
“Somebody else explain to the frog that snakes are built differently. So that’s it?” Lamar said to Penelope. “You dragged my boyfriend away from me so you could talk about books?”
“So we could talk about dirty books,” Ziva corrected. “There’s a big difference. I’m assuming you read 50 Shades?”
“Couldn't get past the first twenty pages.” Lamar sniffed. “Christian's a rank amateur. Why am I only hearing about this group now?”
“Well … ” Jamie’s blush achieved a whole new level of red. “I know you think I don’t like what you write, but I do, really. Only if you knew that, you’d want to … ”
Lamar grinned. “Do all the stuff in the books?”
We thought you were already, Mary signed.
“We’re fascinated by the creative process,” Penelope said. “Could you tell us where you got the idea for the series? And why a series? You’ve only written standalones up until now.”
“That’s because up until now I was standing alone.” Lamar had no trouble switching over from miffed to center of their rapt attention. “Now that I’m in a committed relationship, I want to explore that in my writing. Hence the continuing story of Dillon and Colt.” He hooked his arm around Jamie’s waist and yanked the uncomfortable wolf against his naked serpentine body. “Let me tell you what prompted that scene my biggest fan here was reading.”
“How much of it was based on real life?” Ziva wanted to know.
Lamar’s grin got bigger. “Funny you should ask.”
# # #
Out in the coffee shop, two cowboys on a break listened to the peals of laughter echoing from behind the door to the back room. One of them sent a questioning look at the barista. “Book club,” the Goslin girl said with a shrug.
The cowboy snorted. “You kidding me? Books? They sit around reading? They call that fun?” He slurped a mouthful of coffee. “Women. They don’t know how the hell to have a really good time.”