This weekend I packed my bags and hopped a train to NYC to attend the Bisexual Book Awards. One Kiss with a Rock Star finaled in both romance and erotic fiction (how cool is that?!!) and we were invited to read at the ceremony (even cooler!).
Despite my fear of large groups of people and public transportation I managed to navigate the big city with Amber. We brunched, we boozed, we MOMA’d! It was a blast.
The awesome Julia Kelly joined us (in fab shoes) at the awards Saturday night. It was so lovely to have a romance friend with us and I’m so happy she was able to make it.
The program was really interesting and I enjoyed so many of the readings. I already had Frenemy of the People on my TBR but it totally jumped to the top after Nora Olsen’s reading. And I’m really intrigued by She of the Mountains by Vivek Shraya.
I read a hot (but not as hot as I intended before chickening out) excerpt from One Kiss with a Rock Star without freezing/fainting/puking. The whole time all I could think was omg how many times did we use the word cock? there’s another dick. gotta say fuck again. i’m going to die. i’m going to die. aaaaaah. But Julia & Amber both assured me I sounded like a regular human.
It’s possible they’re just being nice.
When they announced that we won Best Bisexual Romance I stumbled back up to the stage and babbled a little about how it meant so much to us to be recognized in this way because we’d thought a lot about identity while we were writing the book. I may have stolen my own words from my wonkomance post on the topic. Something about railing against binaries and sex acts not defining sexuality. I don’t know. People smiled. I think. My eyes may have been closed.
I managed not to freeze/faint/puke again. A miracle.
And then my shyness won out and we had to run away before the after-party. Even so, it was a magic evening.
Want to read the excerpt I shared? It’s a tense moment between gruff rocker Krist and pop princess Maddy where they finally discuss the fall out from his sex tape.
The bedroom door clicked, and Maddy crawled up the length of the bed. She nestled herself into the crook of his arm as if she belonged there. As if all his empty spaces were hers to fill. Her cheek, soft and warm against his chest. Her hand splayed on his belly. Her leg, smooth and unmarked, tangled over his own. All of it felt right in a way he’d never experienced before. Tangled and knotted and right.
“I don’t know what to do now. I’ve run out of moves,” she whispered.
“We’ll figure something out.” He brushed a stray curl off her forehead.
“We? This is the end of the line for you, buddy. You get off this train before it wrecks.”
“What if I don’t want to? I’m not very good at self-preservation.”
The flutter of her lashes tightened his nipple as she spoke. “Your grainy little sex tape was never the problem. Tommy Lee dined out on his for years. That’s rock-and-roll legend.”
“It doesn’t really matter. Their tape fed the beast exactly what it wanted.”
“And yours didn’t?”
He raked his fingers through his hair and huffed. How was it possible that she didn’t understand the difference? It wasn’t. She knew. She’d told him as much already. But she wanted this moment. She’d willed it into being with her hip sway and batted false lashes. “You’re asking questions when you already know the answers.”
“I am.” Her look was knowing.
He let her lead him. “You want me to say it? I’ll say it. If a blonde with a great rack sucks my dick, they wouldn’t care. They’d high-five me for that and paint her as the devil.”
“And you know what else? If some guy was sucking my dick, they wouldn’t care. Much. Because of course I’d let anyone suck me off, I’m a filthy rock star.”
“Lock was in that video too. It was Hailey who paid the price. And you.”
“Right, putting my mouth on someone’s cock? That means I’m getting used. It means I’m worthless. It has to be fucking managed with a fake engagement so people will still buy Half-Life’s albums.”
“It’s not fair, none of it is.” She traced the curve of his lips with the tip of her finger, trailing a heat that made him shiver. Then she pressed against the seam of his mouth and he was helpless to do anything but draw her in, to accept the invasion with a flick of his tongue. He sucked, and she pushed deeper, filling more of his empty spaces. “Welcome to my world. The one where an inserted dick makes you instantly less valuable. Like driving a car off the lot.”
She kept her tone light, but there was an edge of pain underneath the teasing that sliced him to the quick. He caught her hand and squeezed, pulling her slick finger free of his mouth. “That’s bullshit, Maddy. We’re not used cars.”
She tore loose of his grip and rolled on top of him, pressing her pelvis hard against his. “They drive us like we are.”
He couldn’t even argue because it was the truth. All of it.
He grabbed her hips, careful to avoid the fresh ink on her belly, and held her down as he pressed up. “And if they weren’t driving, where would you go?”
The wry smile teasing at the corners of her lips faltered, and her eyes darkened. She rocked her hips against him. “I thought I knew.”
“I’m not talking about fucking.” But he was. He was asking with the lift of his hips and the grip of his hands on her ass. Even if he didn’t say the words. He didn’t have to. His body said all the things he couldn’t speak out loud. It always had.
“Aren’t you? Wouldn’t you like to just fuck Lock and Hailey and not have to worry about someone catching it on tape and using it against you?”
“No. I mean, yes. Not having shit used against me would be nice. But I don’t want to be with them like that. Not anymore.”
“You had your fun?”
He turned away from her, pressing the side of his face deep into the pillows. “Don’t make it cheap.”
She leaned down, pressing her lips to his ear, teasing the lobe with her teeth. “I just want to understand.”
“You and me both.”
“Do you love him?” Not them. Him. The question was naked and raw, whispered into the skin of his neck. And he knew in that moment if he said yes, she’d leave. She wouldn’t just take whatever scraps of affection he gave her and be happy to have them. It hurt and felt immeasurably good all at the same time. Bleeding fingers on a soaring riff.
He didn’t want her to leave.
He cupped the back of her head, smoothing silky blonde strands with his thumb, over and over. “I love him, Maddy. I’ll always love him. He’s my best friend. My brother. But I’m not in love with him. I never was. I was just too fucked up to know the difference.”
“But you know now?”
The hope in her voice nearly killed him. “I think so. I’m learning. You can’t always fuck your friends and have it mean nothing. You can’t really be in love with someone that doesn’t love you back the same. That isn’t love. It’s infatuation, a crush.”
The sound she made, half sob, half laugh, shuddered through him. “Fans.”
“Something like that.” He guided her lips to his. “I can’t save you, princess. But I can be with you while it all falls down. I can hold your hand and stand with you in the rubble. Broken but not alone.”