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 email@example.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