840. The Rhythm of the Heat

I woke up desperately tired after two hours of sleep and could not remember where I was. It was dark and I could hear someone breathing but I couldn’t tell who from what I could hear. The bed didn’t feel like Ziggy’s bed.

Okay, Daron, I told myself. How about we don’t panic and just kind of think this through. Because it seemed likely I was somewhere I was supposed to be. Unfamiliar bed meant I was probably on tour. Especially since I could tell I was wearing a T-shirt but not my jeans. So it wasn’t like I passed out naked after a drug-fueled orgy–I seem to recall one or two of those in the past. And it also wasn’t like I literally passed out fully clothed, either.

I had a snippet of music in my ears, a little piece of something Bart had played on cello and that I had improvised a guitar line on top of. Did we record that? It felt in my head like it was a free snippet, not yet attached to a full song, and I lay there playing around with it in my mind since I wasn’t falling back to sleep anyway. The cello can sound kind of mournful a lot of the time and it was a sad-sounding song until I put some anger into it with the guitar part, and then we abandoned it because we never quite reconciled those two directions to find a unified song thread, and we had a ton of other ideas to work on.

And then a rush of adrenaline hit me as I suddenly remembered where we were–Caracas, Venezuela–or more importantly why–Ziggy’s tour–and specifically the bit about Star*Gaze being his opening act and us being completely under-rehearsed.


I went around in my head again, blaming myself. How the fuck did we get to this point, again? Well, there was the fact that Ziggy offered you the opening slot as a kind of olive branch after it was obvious you were going to take the music director gig but you were still bitter. There was the fact that babies are forces of chaos and entropy. There was the fact that Jordan needed you to do a favor and did you a favor in return. There was the fact that you may have literally saved your godson’s life.

All these things contributed to my current state of injury and unpreparedness. I really needed two more weeks but the universe was not going to bend time for me. I had to do the bending.

The only thing that could make me stop worrying, though, was me. Worrying won’t help anything, I reminded myself. It won’t make the show better and will probably make it worse. Worrying won’t give you more time or help you find a magic solution.

But I lay there for a good hour, maybe two, just chewing on that stuff over and over. And then I worried about the fact that I wasn’t sleeping. Because if there was any hope of me making it through tonight’s show, any hope of making it good, I was going to need all my brain cells. And so insomnia was the worst possible thing. A feeling of impending doom hung over me like a cloud of darkness.

One thing that was usually a good brain-reset when I couldn’t sleep was to jerk off. I worked the pillow case off the pillow and my underwear off my legs. The pillowcase was to catch the jizz in something that didn’t have to be packed into my bag and carried to Colombia.

I was trying to be quick and quiet. Trying not to shake the bed too much or wake Ziggy. He needed the rest even more than I did. Quick and quiet, quick and quiet. Keeping my mouth clamped shut. Getting closer and closer with what tiny movements I allowed myself. Closer and closer. God, it was taking forever…and then a cramp curled my palm and sent the pain all the way up to my elbow.

I gasped and the person on the other side of the bed rolled over toward me.

And it wasn’t Ziggy. I felt a hand close over mine as Colin’s mouth found my ear. The rich scent of him, a hint of booze and sweat, seemed to rise as the stubble on his chin lit up all the nerve endings in my neck and behind my ear. Scratch and sniff. God. I let loose a conflicted whimper. I may have been pulling on him with my good hand. I wasn’t pushing him away, anyway.

When the orgasm hit, I’m not sure if I burst into tears or if I’d been crying for a little while anyway in the depths of my dark desperation. I needed him so much at that moment and it was my own fault that I’d never said he had to change his expectations about whether he could touch me and so really he had every right to. And I needed it. I needed that release as much as air. Those were tears of relief as well as angst.

And I could feel how hot and hard he was, too. I felt for him with my good hand, already so guilt-ridden about the whole thing that I wasn’t going to add not reciprocating to the list of things I felt like shit about.

“Rest your hands,” he said, his voice low and raspy from middle-of-the-night-ness and the next thing I knew he was running his cock through the puddle of come at the crook of my hip. (The pillowcase and covers had gone away when Colin had taken over jerking me off.) Colin pressed against me, rutting in the slime, the stubble from my own chin probably rug-burning his chest as he heaved himself up and down.

You remember at that point I hadn’t really worked out all my shit about my old roommate/singer Roger, right? I felt a hollowed out sensation in my chest, like I was trying to suck in air in preparation for letting loose a rollercoaster-worthy scream except my lungs were flapping like torn bags and not working at all.

Colin came with a violent shudder and I clung to him, leaving teeth marks on his chest, I’m not even sure how/why.

And then the weeping really started. Colin flipped on the light in alarm. “Daron?”

“I’m okay, I’m okay, I’m okay,” I insisted, even as I was sobbing so hard my chest hurt.

“Stay right here.”

Like I was going to go somewhere? I couldn’t even sit up, much less get out of the bed.

He had gone to get damp washcloths to clean us up with. Because, you know, if you’re going to have a meltdown you might as well not be covered in semen while you do.

While I gradually got my breathing and brain under some semblance of control, he massaged the cramp out of my hand. I was so busy trying to get my breathing and brain under control that I didn’t notice exactly how he did it.

“Are you all right?” he asked.

An answer I liked suddenly hit me, an answer I liked so much it felt right. “I’m having a panic attack over the fact Star*Gaze is taking the stage in a matter of hours and I’m not ready and I don’t want to.” My voice gave out and I had to whisper: “I don’t-don’t-don’t want to.”

“Oh fuck,” he said, continuing to massage my fingers gently now. Which was genuinely soothing.

In my head I was still ping-ponging between thinking what I had just said was a bullshit excuse so I could avoiding actually saying anything to Colin about sex or boundaries or relationships and thinking yes, that’s it, if you weren’t so fucked up about what’s happening with you musically right now you would handle people so much better. In fact maybe there wouldn’t be an issue at all because you would have worked this shit out already….?

“Anything I can do?” he said reasonably. “Do you want me to talk to someone for you?”

Ha, irony. Yeah, the person I’m avoiding talking to is you. “No, but thank you.” I tried to draw a full breath and felt hollowed out again. “I’m sure it’ll be fine if I can just…get some rest. But I’m worrying about it so much I’m self-sabotaging.”

“You are good at that,” he said. Yes, I am, Col’. You don’t know the half of it.

(Note from ctan: This was a heavy chapter but I must say Happy Pride month, everyone. 🙂

Reminder that if you’re thinking about trying out supporting DGC through the Patreon, it’s “half-price” through August! Since I’m only publishing half the usual number of chapters, only half the donations are collected! Find out more here: https://www.patreon.com/ceciliatan

If you ordered a book via the Kickstarter and haven’t received your book yet, but you did get your other items, please ping me so I can check on it, ok? A few of them may not have gotten shipped because I have more left here than I should! Ping me.

I wrote a few chapters ahead this weekend while I was in New York City for a book convention–being holed up in a hotel room in midtown was conducive to Daron, I guess. Familiar territory for him. Wrote some on Amtrak, too.

The reason I could get ahead a little bit just now is last week I turned in the manuscript for Watch Point, my gay Navy SEAL billionaire abduction romance which is slated for Riptide Publishing’s charity holiday bundle this year. Anyone want to beta read it in the next 2 weeks? It’s with my editor now. Ping me at ctan.writer@gmail.com if you want to give me feedback on it. I could especially use a reader who knows anything about being in the Navy or rocky islands off the coast of Maine.

The next project I must tackle this summer is book 2 of the Vanished Chronicles, the urban fantasy series that was supposed to launch with Tor Books in August, but the publisher pushed it to September 18, 2018. The first book, Initiates of the Blood, is in their hands. Book two, which is tentatively titles Adepts of Ardor, will be the main thing eating my brain and writing time in June, July, and August. I’ll be using my DGC writing as a way to take a break from that! Writing Daron is always like coming home to a familiar place.

Of course a writer’s job is only partially writing. Promotion is in the job description, too. This week and next are all about promoting a new web fiction serial I worked on, Geek Actually, which goes live tomorrow, June 7! GEEK ACTUALLY is sort of like “Sex in the City” for nerdgrrrls, a tale of five geeky female friends who meet the challenges of life, love, and friendship via the Internet. It was a blast to work on and me and my three co-authors specifically wanted to present a cast of characters as diverse and nerdy as we are. Cathy Yardley, Melissa Blue, Rachel Stuhler, and I are the team. You can check out the first chapter starting tomorrow here: https://www.serialbox.com/serials/geekactually

Looking forward to seeing some of you in person in August, and via livestreaming for those who can’t be there! August 20 in Louisville, KY. RSVP (even if as “maybe”) to: https://goo.gl/forms/0zha4Jxo0E6fqETE3



  • G says:

    I have no idea what to say. I’m in tears right now. How the holy hell did you end up in a bed with Colin? What happened to you and Ziggy being a real, exclusive couple? I can’t make myself think this was a pressure release and nothing else. This is Colin, for fuck’s sake. The feelings are so fucking obvious. That’s why the conversation that needed to happen with you and Colin and even Ziggy should’ve happened before. Or maybe Ziggy orchestrated this to get shit to come to a head already. Whatever it is, it’s hurting my fucking heart. The rings mean something, above all else. I can’t let go of that. I’m sorry you’re panicking over Star*Gaze, and I feel sympathy, as always, about your injury, but geezus, Daron…

    • sanders says:

      How would this make Ziggy and Daron less of a “real” couple or change the rings meaning something, especially since the rings never only meant exclusivity but encompassed a wide range of things?

      • G says:

        You’re right, the rings encompass many things, and I know that Daron and Ziggy are still figuring out what the rings mean, but the one thing Daron did say was that they were exclusive. Maybe I’m the naïve one here who thinks exclusive doesn’t have an asterisk on it, but I was so happy that they agreed on that; they had worked so hard for it. And I also understand that there are limitless ways to define exclusive relationships and relationships in general, but they haven’t defined it yet. They aren’t less of a real couple, but I’m angry that the talk that needed to happen with the three of them, together or separately, didn’t happen before this. Maybe I’m just so worried that this will hurt Ziggy, Daron and Colin and I’m nervous at Daron’s panic and not confiding in Ziggy about Star*Gaze and that Daron’s hand will seize up tonight…this was just not a good thing to happen right now.

    • s says:

      Oh, hon, don’t fret yet. Remember Ziggy said he would never tell Daron he couldn’t have Colin. There is the whole “permission” thing, but I’m not sure that applies to Colin. Yes, Daron is whole-heartedly fucking this up by not talking to Ziggy and Colin about it, but I think they know him well enough to know he’ll talk when he is able.

      My concern is Daron clearly needs Colin and I’m afraid he’s gonna put the breaks on that relationship because he thinks that’s what he’s committed to Ziggy. I don’t think he’ll be able to handle that and we will likely see another tailspin out of him before he gets his shit together…

      Btw Darin, hugs. You need it.

      • Bill Heath says:

        Agree with S-squared. I suspect that nobody engineered anything; there is little time for plots or subtlety on tour.

        IMHO, the only person who will be upset about any of this is Daron. That’s his purpose in life.

        • s says:

          S-squared. I like it. Lol

          Sorry, Daron, that my phone apparently forgot how to spell your name that last time. Thought it was supposed to be a “smart” phone. Lol

        • daron says:

          IMHO, the only person who will be upset about any of this is Daron. That’s his purpose in life.

          A huge amount of the drama here is going on in my head and no one else’s, it’s true. But that means I’m on my own to deal with it, too.

          • sanders says:

            You’re only on your own to deal with it until you talk to other people and tell them what you’re freaking out over. You’re literally in the middle of your best friends, your partner, your housemates, any of whom would talk through things with you.

            So you know the answer right?

            Call Remo.

            • daron says:

              Oh hell no. Remo is the very last person I’m going to talk to about my love life.

              although, he is one person who’s been through being conflicted about commitment and making your own rules for relationships and balancing multiple partners and dealing with it all while being an international touring musician…. Dammit.

              There’s still no way I’m talking to him about it, though. And you know why.

              • sanders says:

                See, you found all these actual rationalizations for why Remo would be helpful. I was just being a smart ass based on your tendency to avoid talking the people physically closest to you and generally needing to get someone outside of the situation on the phone before you get your head together.

                I can’t remember if you talked Fran and Clarice into this tour, but if you did, they might genuinely be good people to for a reality check and some advice.

                • daron says:

                  I’ll tell you why I’ll never call Remo to ask him about Ziggy-Colin-etc. It’s because he’ll judge me. You know he will. My relationship with him is important to me, but it’s taken me a while to realize that maintaining it requires me not to let him get too damn paternal, basically.

      • G says:

        I see all kinds of tailspins right now. And I love Colin as much as the next person and he is good for Daron as a friend and confidant, but I think I’m just one of the saps who want a Daron and Ziggy. Let Bradley have Colin. I will be cool with a different sort of setup, with permissions, et cetera, but that didn’t happen first and I hate the timing. Daron needs all kinds of hugs right now but I swear sometimes I want to slap him on the back of his neck. And if Ziggy didn’t know about this I’m worried about what’s going to happen there. I remember him saying he would never keep Daron and Colin apart, but still, permission. How did they end up in a room together anyway??

        Am I the only one taking this so badly? Geez, maybe I should get a hold of myself and back off.

        • daron says:

          You’re not the only one freaking out. *points at self*

          But Bill may have my number on this one.

        • s says:

          I would love it to just be Daron and Ziggy, too. My heart is with them completely. Oddly enough, I think Ziggy is more likely to handle that well than Daron is because of his…attachment? love? whatever it is he feels for Colin. I’ve learned not to force my ideas of what makes a relationship work onto these guys, though, so I don’t freak out about things like this like I used to. Now, if Ziggy gets upset about it…

          I am intensely curious how they ended up in this situation, though. And where the hell is Ziggy? I can’t imagine he just went to bed without knowing where Daron was and wonder if he saw Daron, Colin and Bradley playing the video game and decided to leave them/push them together in hopes they would finally talk. There is no chance that Ziggy doesn’t know they need to talk and haven’t. I don’t think it was premeditated thing, but maybe circumstantial?

          Damn only 1 chapter a week right now!!! Lol

    • daron says:

      I’m paranoid that Ziggy orchestrates things but I also kind of have to trust that he’ll keep his word and orchestrate things with us as a couple in mind rather than just to protect himself. But I’m definitely wondering where the hell he is and whether it’s my fault he’s not there, or not. (More on that next chapter of course…)

  • turbulenthandholding says:

    What a chapter to get fully caught up on after my week long binge. Oh, my heart.

  • Kaien says:

    Speaking solely on D/Z’s relationship- I get that once upon a time, Zig mentioned that he wouldn’t keep Col away from Daron. But SO much happened since then. Their relationship continued to grow and then they got hitched. There was no update talk about what that meant (they’re still figuring things out and such,) so at the very least a conversation perhaps should’ve been had.

    It kinda rubbed me the wrong way that Col acted like everything was still the same for them (him and Daron) even after seeing the rings. I dunno, I just don’t want Zig to be hurt. Lord knows when he says things it’s not always what he means, or rather there are other meanings, etc. He’s multilayered and all that.
    And it’s sad to see Dar so worked up. But I’ve definitely been waiting for the storm over the horizon to approach for a couple chapters now.

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