There are times when I’m completely manic.
You don’t realize how powerful it makes you feel. It’s like the really good drugs … And just like them it’s super dangerous. Like careening off a cliff dangerous.
One minute it’s all laughter packed into your chest, everything looks vibrant and bright, and you’re completely in love with yourself. You look in the mirror and you’re just BEAUTIFUL and you feel STRONG. And you go out partying or whatever and it feels like you can do no wrong and nothing will ever be able to hurt you.
Then somehow, all unknowing, the world changes — or maybe it’s you. You’re the one that changed.
And for a little while everything is too bright and too frightening before shrinking down to an expanse of solid gray. It crushes in on you before you catch your equilibrium and for some length of what feels like forever, you’re completely broken off from all that’s good.
And it takes a while to recharge, to climb back up to the heights of magnificence. Sometimes the gray tries to cling to you, to take away your every joy. But you have to find something you love and cling to it.
You need a reason to stay strong for when you’re screaming from the rooftops or hiding in your cellar. A dog, a friend, a family, or a lover.
You need something. Or it drives you manic.
I can’t explain the logic of it, but I flip my Red Bulls upside down for a few seconds before opening them. Not really a shake — as I don’t want to make a mess — but enough to stir up the flavor. Yes, even I am baffled by my own thinking, but I do it anyway.
It’s part and parcel with the whole thing that has me obsessively checking my email two minutes after I post a story. As though anyone would have even read it yet, much less had a chance to post feedback. (That’s the best thing about TTH. There’s always someone there to comment like practically immediately. FFnet gets me some weird comments, while AO3 is beautiful, but people don’t comment as much. The kudos are nice though.)
Basically I’m a praise monkey. Say something nice enough and I churn out more updates. It’s like a switch goes off in my head and I enter Eager To Please Mode and I have all this fresh interest for whatever story.
I am the Red Bull. And sometimes I just need to be flipped.
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Read stories free at Kimichee Feedback can get you awesome rewards, and not just karmically. Acknowledgments, dedications, exclusive first reads. Disqus lines are open.
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Currently on the lookout for a beta reader. As you can tell I have a pretty all right grasp of the English language. My problems are repetition, double wording (“the the” seems to be a fave), and a tendency to either not describe anything or be too flowery. It will most likely be a chapter at a time and we can set up a schedule around your availability.
Stories in need:
Altredes [LB, YA, genhet, State Rule] – novel length, broken into 10,000 word chunks to be serialized, rating teen. Exclusive.
From Diamond to Coal [SC, mm super science] – series of arcs, about 50,000 words each, chapters (aiming for 8 per arc), rating teen+. Kimichee.
Idlewile [HK, pop idol, slashy asexual sci-fi, State Rule] – novel length, chapters, rating teen+. Kimichee.
The Brand [HK, mm fantasy romance, m/m/m] – novel length, difficult prose, rating mature for sex. Exclusive.
Dude, There’s a Body In Your Bathtub [subtextually slashy, humor, gangsters] – rating mature for violence. Exclusive.
Paradigm Shift [HK, mm sci-fi, State Rule] – novel length, chapters, fascist society, non-descriptive birth mpreg, rating mature just for the possibility. Exclusive Park POV, LJ.
Doggy Style [SC, mm contemporary with crazy magical event] – novella length, chapters, rating mature for language and sex. Exclusive.
Bad ass beta perks: dedication, acknowledgment, short prompts filled, eternal love and gratitude (which does not expire), ebook copy of the project when it’s all done.
Exclusive = coming out as an ebook first. Either self-published or submitted. ff = female/female. Femslash.
genhet = general fiction stories.
HK = Harper Kingsley. Mix of mm, ff, genhet, plot over porn, perspective pieces. Kimichee = site where I serialize stories. Then self-published for ease of reading.
LB = Lisa Bailey. YA, genhet.
LJ = LiveJournal.
mm = male/male. Slash.
Novel length = 60,000+ words.
Novella length = 20,001-59,999 words.
SC = Sol Crafter. Largely straightforward mm stories. Usually HEA/HFN. Short story = 0-20,000 words.
slashy = hints of slash, but no hard proof. Relationship more than romance.
* this is a personal explanation for how I’m using terms. YMMV elsewhere.
Half editing this monster (Allies & Enemies) in my spare time. I like this scene, but it’s most likely going to be cut because it doesn’t really serve a purpose. I just thought it was cool.
I was thinking I might turn it into a one-shot or the opening scene of someone else’s story. There’s gotta be other prisoners of these guys looking for a chance to shine, or at the very least reclaim their lives.
Rating: teen+ (language, description of gore)
*** = small spoiler for A&E removed.
He’d given up that life. He wasn’t that guy anymore. He’d made promises and commitments. But that was all in the past tense. He was in the moment, in the now, and there was the thunder red of rage-rage-rage burning across Vereint’s brain.
All this time, Warrick had been so great about following the rules. So why did he have to fuck up now?
Vereint had come back to an empty cabin, a TV still showing GNN and a note. Warrick had seen something and it reminded him of some unfinished Blue Ice business, so he’d gone off to handle it.
Vereint’s panic as he chased after Warrick had gradually turned to burning anger. Didn’t Warrick understand what putting himself in danger did to Vereint? The sense of helplessness and suffocating worry?
Vereint wanted to scream in Warrick’s face, but he knew he would probably end up on his knees begging him to never leave him again. And that patheticness only made him angrier. Never in his life had there been anyone to bring him so low as Warrick could.
By the time he reached the warehouse, he was mostly cool. Then he broke the lock and slid open the door.
Warrick was dead.
There was blood everywhere in a butterfly spray, and at the center the torn cocoon. Flesh splayed open in pink and white ridges of muscle and tendon. Eye sockets blackened and exposed amongst the brain matter. Warrick’s face was pasty and still, his shattered lips still parted around where his teeth had been kicked out.
Vereint sucked in a hissing breath and his hands clenched into claw shapes at his sides. He was going mad. The world was a riot of bright reds and softer pinks and the glistening lengths of intestine. The image before him was soaking itself into his brain. Becoming the truth of his existence.
Then he noticed that the Blue Ice uniform was wrong. It was one Vereint knew for sure had been ruined in a fight with Behemoth. He’d thrown it away himself, which had been a real hardship. It had been his favorite.
Just that quick he knew someone was messing with his brain.
It was as though someone had snapped a new lens on a camera, everything coming into focus. He could still see the mind fuckery of the illusion, but it was hollow and thin, all the emotional impact sucked out.
There were two men in black three piece suits standing next to a card table. They were laughing and joking, placing bets on how long he would freak out for.
As his mind started working again, Vereint’s eyes were drawn to the vibrating silver device on the table. He’d only ever heard about them, but he was pretty sure that was a Psiren. It sent sound waves focused to some frequency that could force the human brain to experience different emotions. The feelings drawn up were so strong that some people experienced correlating hallucinations.
Vereint tried to make his body convey terror and grief and was glad of the ski mask he’d pulled on before leaving. He’d never been that great of an actor, which is why he usually let Warrick do the lying for the both of them.
His eyes slid to the back of the room where he’d spotted the glint of a blade pressed tight against the real Warrick’s throat. Warrick wasn’t moving, was flopped limply, but Vereint could see the minute quiver of his breaths. He was pulled across the over-sized lap of a man that had to be a good fifteen hundred pounds.
Vereint recognized the man as Jericho Slim, sometimes called the Knife Man because he could do horrible nightmare things with a blade. He could draw them out of his flesh like gall stones. He would gag and a blade would come out from between his lips or sometimes it would just be slivers. It was said he could spit his Needle Darts faster than a viper and he could hit a target up to two hundred feet away.
Even though he was sure he was faster than Jericho Slim, Vereint didn’t want to risk the guy getting lucky. It was better to play it safe and maneuver the situation to where he’d have better odds of keeping Warrick alive.
After what he figured had to be a good five minutes, Vereint let himself sag to the floor with a low moan. From what he knew, an improperly used Psiren could cause catatonia in people that had experienced severe psychological trauma in the past.
He was worried about Warrick. ***. Being hit with the effects of a Psiren could give him permanent damage.
Vereint was pretty sure he was going to be killing some people today.
“He’s passed out,” the skinnier of the two men at the table said.
“Wonder who he is,” the other one said.
“Who cares? He’d down and out,” Skinny said. “What do you want us to do with him, boss?”
Jericho Slim had a surprisingly sweet voice for a man that was so large. It was the kind of voice that could have done commercials or read off movie times. “He must be working with this one here. Bring him to that chair and get that stupid ski mask off. Let’s see what kind of fish we managed to catch in our trap this time.”
Vereint kept his eyes closed as he was patted down, then hung limp as he was hauled up by his arms and tossed onto a hard wooden chair. It was one of those kind that had a rocking chair back and he could feel the knobby round spokes pressing against his spine. He let himself be lashed in place by rope, though a minute flex of his muscles let him know he could break free easily.
He felt the ski mask get ripped off his face and let his head flop forward when it was released. His chin was grasped by a slightly sticky hand and his hair was shoved out of the way as his face was turned toward the light.
“He’s a pretty one, isn’t he?” Not-Skinny said. “He should make good money on the market.”
“Someone might pay a lot of money for a face like that,” Skinny agreed. “Are we going to sell him, boss?”
“We’ll find out when he wakes up,” Jericho Slim said. “If he’s got more to him than a pretty face, we could get a better price.”
Racking his brain, Vereint didn’t remember Jericho Slim ever being caught up in the flesh trade, but it looked like the man had changed professions. He would wait until they were put in some sort of cell or something and he could just carry Warrick away rather than risking something happening.
“Are we going to sell that one too, boss?” Skinny asked.
“No,” Jericho Slim said, stroking Warrick’s hair. “This one here’s a special case. I think I’m going to keep him for myself.”
It was a struggle for Vereint to remain unmoving. His mouth wanted to snarl and he was nearly trembling from holding himself still. He didn’t want to know what Jericho Slim wanted with Warrick and there was no way he was going to let anything happen. He would just have to make sure he was both strong and decisive when he made his move.
He kept his body completely limp as he was lifted up roughly by hands under his arms. His heels scraped the floor as he was dragged toward a door at the back of the warehouse.
The route incidentally took him passed where Jericho Slim held Warrick.
Opportunity knocks and the devil rocks.
Read some of my other stories free at Kimichee.
Examples: The Panic Pure, From Diamond to Coal, Idlewile.
“Heroes & Villains,” by Harper Kingsley will be returning August 14 from Less Than Three Press. It’s a superhero mm romance action adventure story. You know you want some…
So I shut off anonymous commenting on my LiveJournal. I was suddenly getting a lot of weird spam messages because I’d joined the rankings. There were hundreds of screened comments and there was just no way I could get through them all. LiveJournal never told me they were there, so I probably dropped the ball responding to some legitimate comments too, which makes me feel bad.
Anyway, to test this out I logged out of LiveJournal and tried to comment on a post.
“Error: this user has turned off anonymous commenting.”
What the heck, LJ? That’s so stupid. Why would that be the first option, especially when it’s turned off? There’s all these commenting options — OpenID, Twitter, Facebook — yet the default is Anonymous when someone clicks from the front page.
It’s like they’re actively discouraging commenting from non-LJ users.
-Overalls. Seriously, they’re dorky, maybe a little ugly, but sometimes they just seem perfect.
There’s nothing like pulling on some overalls, my big clunky work boots, and just going out and digging around in the yard. There’s nature and dirt and just not giving a crap about anything but the moment.
-Been editing some projects, writing on others, and basically spending a lot of time by myself. I’m just grateful the sun decided to shine some because I needed to get out of the house and breathe some fresh air. So far it’s been great.
My dog has happily been chasing rabbits and running around all crazy. He likes having some company during his outdoor adventures.
There are so many things I’m grateful for. I try to hold those things close to ward off the things that try and bring me down.
A smile may start off fake, but it becomes real the more it’s used.
Title: From Diamond to Coal
Author: Sol Crafter
Genre: science fiction, mm romance
Summary: Picks up from the end of Arc One [available from Amazon or Smashwords] William and Alan are coming back from their honeymoon, dealing with police, and basically getting their lives back together.
The car pulled up in front of the brownstone and William barely waited for the door to be opened all the way before leaping out. He didn’t really want to go inside, but a big part of him insisted that it was better to just get the horror over with than to let himself linger in misery.
“So they’re already waiting for us inside?” he asked Byron Hughes.
The bodyguard shrugged. “Looks like. O’Rielly says the police are very insistent on talking to you.” He slammed the car door shut behind Alan and walked with them across the sidewalk to the front door. “The detectives I dealt with seemed pretty good and they made it really easy, but I don’t know if they’re who you will be answering to.”
William patted Byron’s broad shoulder. “It’s all right. The sooner we get this done, the sooner we’ll be able to get on with the rest of our lives.”
“Why do I feel as though I’m dealing with some kind of pod person?” Alan asked.
William grinned at him, and it was only a little fake. “You did fall asleep on the plane. Maybe that’s when I was replaced.”
“Way to give me nightmares.” Alan mock-shuddered. “I think I saw this movie once and Nicole Kidman ended up shooting James Bond in the leg.” Read the rest of this entry
In case you haven’t seen it yet, this is the new cover for Heroes & Villains, which will be coming out August 14th from Less Than Three Press. I’m super excited about this (and you know you are too, nanu nanu.)
134,000+ words of superhero/supervillain interaction and eventual romance. Set in a world where metahaumans are accepted and there’s more than just a job in superscience to fall back on, Vereint dreams of using his metabilities to become someone great. Even if that means being the bad guy.
Here’s the Goodreads page. (I have no idea how to update the cover art. That’s a bit beyond me at the moment )
VEREINT GEORGES — starts out as the superhero Starburst, but becomes the legendary supervillain Darkstar. All he wants is to be respected and admired as he makes a splash in Megacity.
WARRICK REIDENGER TOBIAS — billionaire playboy and superhero Blue Ice. Member of the League of Superheroes. Kind of a douche at first; he gets better as the story goes along and he lets himself accept what he really wants out of life.
CASPIAN DUKES — this half-Atlantean superhero and member of the League of Superheroes doesn’t even bother with a secret identity. He is Warrick’s best friend and partner in crime.
Here, because I love you, have an excerpt from Allies & Enemies:
[Warrick and Caspian are superbro'ing it up.]
Aliens. It was aliens again.
He remembered a time when the thought of aliens brought to mind awkwardly waddling glob-monsters that just wanted to go home. Now he had to deal with aliens that wanted to suck out peoples’ brains before absorbing their organic tissue into its heaving mass of pink and red ick.
“E.T., go the fuck home!” he yelled, dodging out of the way of a writhing tentacle that burned the asphalt like acid where it hit.
“Why do all aliens have to look like fucking Jell-o monsters?” Caspian asked. He’d been given a dart gun loaded with some kind of chemical that was supposed to render the blob monster helpless, crystallizing its insides or something. Only the darts he’d fired so far had all bounced. Neither one of them was having a good time.
Warrick blasted an oncoming tentacle, freezing it in mid-air. “Not all aliens are blob things,” he puffed. “Some of them are hot alien babes sent to seduce strong virile superheroes. Remember Blandromeda? She kept trying to get into my pants. I had to have Lady Arcana give her the girl-talk about why I wasn’t into her generous offer.”
Caspian snorted. “She was sent to destroy Earth’s mightiest heroes by infecting them with space herpesyphilaids. You dodged a bullet, man. Charismo’s wiener had to be surgically amputated after it started smoking and melting. Dude’s still bitter about it.”
“Didn’t the Mechanic give him a robo-dick though? Wasn’t that good enough?” Warrick froze the tentacles heading toward Caspian, giving him a chance to fire another shot.
The dart bounced.
“Dammit.” Caspian tumbled out of the way of a finger-thin tendril. Seemed like the space blob was trying to teach itself to be stealthy. “I don’t know about you, man, but I like my original parts. And if I ever decide to get anything replaced, I don’t want it to happen because I caught an STD from some space hooker.”
Warrick cackled. “Space hooker. That shit’s going in my diary.”
They had been maneuvering the blob away from the civilians trapped in the overturned bus and hazmat suit wearing police rushed in to hustle them out of the way. It was the best they could manage until their League backup arrived with better weapons.
The blob quivered with frustrated rage and a shudder went through the whole thing. There was a disgusting sucking-gurgling sound and an oozing maw lined with human-bone pseudo-teeth opened up.
“Have you ever seen the movie ‘Teeth?’” Caspian’s voice had gone up hysterically. “That shit gave me nightmares that went something like this.”
Warrick leapt up into the air and swooped down to snatch Caspian up under the arms just as the blob jumped into the spot Caspian had been standing. Angry tentacles reached for them, trying to grab a trailing foot, but Warrick carried them up high enough it couldn’t reach. He blinked sweat from his eye.
“Whoo, that almost got ugly,” he said.
Caspian gave a wordless whimper and his grip on Warrick’s shoulders was almost painful.
“You guys all right?” a brassy voice asked.
Warrick turned to find Witch Fire hovering on her broom. “We’re fine, but you better have brought something to handle that thing. If it eats one more person, it might get too strong to be stopped.”
Witch Fire made a face at him, but reached into a velvet satchel at her waist and pulled out a glass vial filled with a glowing blue liquid. “It took a while, but the lab boys whipped this up for you. You freeze it and I’ll pour?”
Warrick shifted Caspian around until the guy could clamber onto his back. “I got this.”
There was something about using his abilities that made all of the problems he faced seem tiny and far away. It was as though his metability froze his emotions too. It was one of the things that made him great in a fight–he always kept a cool head.
Focusing down on the pool of liquid ice that always seemed to lap away in the deeper corners of his mind, Warrick called it out of him and down his arms. It was distilled winter blasting out of his hands, the kind of deadly cold that nothing living on Earth could hope to survive.
To him, it felt warm. Like a shot of straight whiskey burning in his belly, only it went through his whole body.
The alien blob was frozen solid, though it only held a few minutes. Whatever was at the heart of that thing had a molten core and a hunger for living flesh.
It was frozen long enough.
Witch Fire unstoppered the vial, releasing a puff of noxious black smoke she kept well away from her face, and she zipped down to pour the thick, viscous blue straight down the creature’s maw. Making a mouth had been a mistake.
“We need to get back!” Witch Fire yelled, zooming past him.
Warrick didn’t hesitate to follow, ducking behind the safety of a skyscraper. “What’s going to happen?”
“Oh…” There was a thunderous BOOM! and the wet splatter of regurgitated organic matter slapping against buildings and the ground.
“Just that.” Witch Fire’s grin was positively demonic. “Enjoy the clean up, boys.” She zipped away in a flash of trailing red hair.
Warrick came back around the building to see the result of their actions. “I feel like we just got F’d in the A.”
Gobs of red and pink stuck everywhere like half-digested steak tartar. There was already a rancid smell happening and Warrick’s mouth watered in the way that warned he was about to vomit.
Caspian made a heaving noise behind him and Warrick twisted so Caspian fell loose, then caught him around the waist from behind. He gripped Caspian by the hips as Caspian bent forward and began to throw up, the vomit hitting the ground below with a sickening splash.
Warrick squeezed his eyes tight shut and tried to hold his breath and picture kittens. Cute, cuddly, furry, non-vomiting kittens.
“Sexy alien babes would be so much better,” he said.
“Yeah,” Caspian garbled agreement.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to disappear off the face of the Earth, it’s just that my dog has been really sick. Like to the point where there was talk of putting him to sleep.
I’ve been nursing him along and it seems like he might be getting better, but he’s still at a very dangerous point in his care. He’s been getting frisky the last two days — he turns his face away when I’m squirting food in him and he saw me coming earlier with the q-tips for his nose and made a break for it — so I’m really hopeful that he’s going to pull through.
If your dog ever comes into contact with rat poison, vitamin K1 is your friend (not K2, that’s different stuff) and you can buy it online without a prescription. Even if you’re not sure, you don’t have to worry too much because K1 won’t hurt your dog; it just won’t do anything. So if you take your dog to the vet thinking it might have gotten into rat poison, they’ll just shoot him up (the regimen for rat poisoning seems to be K1 injection and a cleanse, then K1 pills for the next month, and Densoyl pills.)
Oh, and Denosyl antioxidants, which are supposed to save your dog’s liver from being damaged, costs from $80-190 a lot of places. Which is why I was over the moon to find out the dietary supplement SAMe is the same stuff and only cost $30 for 60 tablets of 200 mg (for the size of my dog, I give him two.)
From lying on the floor, unable to lift his head, to walking around and giving me a sassy attitude, I’m so amazed by how much better he already is. I can’t say that he’s better yet and there’s still a chance that he could take a downturn in the next few days, but from being completely hopeless to thinking that he might be all right… It feels like my heart is too big for my chest.
(BTW, he didn’t get into rat poison at our house. I’m giving my neighbors the serious side-eye, though I won’t say anything because there’s no proof. And the way rat poison works, he could have been exposed up to two weeks before he started getting super sick. It looks like he only got a small dose, otherwise he would have already been dead.)
Title: The Panic Pure
Author: Harper Kingsley
Genre: mm suspense thriller
Summary: Daniel Worth, billionaire and CEO of Worth Enterprises is questioned by FBI agent Marshal Newman about the disappearance of one of his employees. They strike up a conversation and soon are regularly meeting and begin dating. However neither realizes just how close danger is lurking.
All day long he had felt nervous flutterings in his stomach, but now that the moment was finally here… Danny felt completely calm. It was as though a veil of serenity had draped itself over him and nothing bad could touch him.
Marshal had shown up earlier than usual tonight so there would still be some time before dinner. They were sitting out on the back patio with a bowl of dark purple grapes between them. Olivia would have one of the maids call them in when it was time to eat.
“That sunset is amazing,” Marshal said, popping a grape in his mouth. “You have a truly great view here of the mountains and the pond. It looks like something out of a painting. Picturesque.” Read the rest of this entry
I’m wrapping up The Panic Pure and I’ve been going back through and rereading some stuff. Which means I get to see my characters from a bit of a distance. Here’s my thoughts on Marshal:
Marshal is almost sickeningly romantic, and I like that he realizes it. He has these sweeping thoughts and a stylized image of Danny, but he’s just a guy when he talks out loud. He thinks all kinds of sappy stuff. Writing him feels a bit like letting go.
I’m a closet romantic. Meeting me in real life, you’d be shocked by how nougaty my inner core is. My personal idea of romance is pizza and a movie, though I guess somewhere in me I dream of white lace and flowers.
Because otherwise, I have no idea where Marshal came from.
He’s a terrible FBI agent, by the way. A beautiful lover of Danny, but I don’t think he could solve his way out of a paper bag.
Read The Panic Pure at Kimichee.
Here’s Marshal and Joanna being paperwork ninja:
Marshal could feel Joanna burning a hole in the side of his head with her eyes and more than anything he wanted to yell at her to cut it out. Instead, he gave her a steady glance and calmly asked, “What?”
She smirked. “So, word on the street is that a guy in a suit dropped off that fancy lunch for you. Dare I ask who the sender was?”
Marshal shrugged. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” He double-dipped a gyoza half in sauce and popped it in his mouth.
“That’s a very fancy box that your lunch came in,” she fished, raising her eyebrows.
“Why don’t you just eat your sandwich and apple and let me enjoy my meal?” he asked.
“Because I’m super curious about how you managed to get your hands on such gourmet goods,” she said, while obligingly picking up her sandwich half–he saw that it was peanut butter and grape jelly, which only made him appreciate his food more.
“Hey, is it my fault that you have an elementary school lunch? I wasn’t the one that packed it for you this morning,” he said.
Joanna made a face, though her eyes danced. “We both know that I have about zero cooking skills. Peanut butter and jelly is just my speed, you know, unless I want to take up vending machine bingeing again. And we really don’t want to go there.”
“What you need to do is find yourself a man that knows how to cook,” he said.
“Like you did?”
Marshal couldn’t help looking around to make sure no one else was close enough to hear. Sure, the Bureau was supposed to be all about non-discrimination, but he’d lived long enough to realize that most policies were entirely dependent on the people you worked with.
“Don’t worry,” Joanna said. She took a sip of her coffee. “Even if I yelled it from the rooftops I’m pretty sure that no one here would honestly give a damn.”
“Better safe than sorry,” he said. “And shouldn’t you be drinking a juice box with your kid lunch? Coffee seems way too grown up for you.”
She snorted. “If I could have my drink of choice here at work, this coffee would have a couple of shots of Irish love in it. Especially since I’ve still gotta go through all of these reports.” She lifted a stack of files a couple of inches before dropping them with a grimace. “Why can’t we be out on the streets catching the bad guys?”
“Because we’re paperwork ninja,” he said. It was one of the sad facts of his career that he had never been shot at, threatened by anyone other than Joanna, or been able to violently take down a bad guy. For the most part, he went to work in the morning and made it home at the same time every night. “We live the life that other agents’ wives only dream of. Too bad neither one of us has any kids or anything because we’d be able to spend plenty of time with them.”
Joanna chuckled. “But at least one of us has a warm body to go home to, right?”
“Yes, I keep my body temperature to a toasty ninety-eight degrees,” he dead-panned, then ducked the pen she threw at his head. “Watch it, you could have put my eye out.”
“At least then you’d have a story of danger to tell your sweetie. It might get you some freaky death-risk smoochies.”
“Are you two discussing job related topics again?” a cool voice interrupted.
Marshal jumped a little, then turned to see that Agent Barry Landau had somehow managed to come right up to his shoulder. “Whoa, I didn’t see you there.”
“Duh,” Landau said, rolling his eyes. “You and Starkweather were too busy gossiping like girls. Shouldn’t you be working?”
“It’s our lunch break,” Joanna said, not-quite glaring at him.
Landau scoffed. “Is that all you do, come in and eat lunch and talk all day? ‘Cause you know, the rest of us are out there actually getting the job done.”
“You know what, I’m pretty sure that we’ve cleared more cases than you ever will,” Marshal said.
“Yeah, by doing all the desk work that no one else wants. You spend all day reading reports and filing paperwork. I’m pretty sure the Bureau could replace you two with a couple of secretaries,” Landau said. “Two pretty ladies instead of you two… might be nice.”
“Why don’t you crawl back under your rock or something?” Joanna growled menacingly. Marshal didn’t like how she was squishing the remnants of her sandwich in her fist.
Landau laughed. “Smooth comeback, Starkweather.” He walked off, back toward the corner where his cronies hung out.
“That guy is a real dick,” Joanna said, glaring after him.
Marshal looked at her, his eyebrows feeling like they were touching his hairline. “That’s really all you’ve got to say about him?”
She shook her head, the corner of her mouth twisting. “That’s all I can say about him at work. I’ll write up a list of his attributes and email it to you later. Off the clock.”
“You’re a real piece of work, Starkweather, you know that?” he laughed.
“Finish your food, Newman,” she said.
It was their personal joke. They had called each other by their first names from the very first moment they’d met. It was as though they had been born to be partners, there was just this instant sense of camaraderie and comfort.