Category Archives: Mitchell

Kerri’s Diary: Overstock

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Thanks to everyone who turned out and picked up copies of King Trevor yesterday, on its release day! Here’s more from Kerri’s diary, a loose-tie in. If you haven’t joined the Trevolution yet, now’s the time!

Mitchell and Daniel took off together for lunch. Mitchell said I could come, even though they’d be talking business. I had nothing better to do, so I tagged along.

It was fascinating stuff.

The jist is that they’d ordered two different new t-shirt designs to debut on this leg of the tour. One was my first drawing of Cool Dude. Trevor’s gotten some comments from people about it, and it was featured in that guitar gods interview they did with me and Trev. Mitchell had to bully JR into letting us put that shirt out. JR had been convinced that despite the magazine, no one would want a cartoon. It went against the ShapeShifter image, he’d said.

To me, that’s why Cool Dude is cool.

Still, I kept my mouth shut while they talked about this. The whole band had thought they were onto something. They fought JR and finally Mitchell threatened to fire him if JR didn’t make those t-shirts available. “It’s not like we fucking have to pay the artist a royalty!” he’d screamed.

I’d asked him why not, but he’d given me one of those looks, and I let it drop. You’d think that after doing the design for Behold Me, I’d have known better this time around. Guess not.

Needless to say, the band was right. The Cool Dude t-shirt has been selling like mad. In fact, Daniel and Mitchell looked at each other, then at me, then at each other again. I get what pregnant silence means now.

“Maybe,” I said. “But you’ll have to pay more.”

Mitchell snorted, then growled.

“Stick it,” I said. “Maybe I’ll use the royalties to fund a scholarship at Riverview Art.”

I think that idea satisfied him. I mean, the band’s doing well enough that so are we.

The other t-shirt, though… that’s the problem. It was supposed to be one of those basic wardrobe staples that no one can live without. The ShapeShifter logo at the top, and the most recent promo shot underneath. It was JR’s pet. He was convinced it’d be the band’s newest top-seller.

Can you say overstock?

Yeah. Me, too.

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Kerri’s Diary: The Sneeze

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With less than a week to go until the debut of King Trevor, here’s another snippet from Kerri’s Diary. This project is a side piece to the current books in print that are part of the Trevolution. This post, inspired in part by real life, incorporates this week’s Three Word Wednesday prompt words.

You know those romantic images of the woman who always sleeps in her lover’s arms? Mitchell and I sleep like that. I’ll admit it. Scary thing is that it’s hard to get to sleep if I’m not using him as a pillow.

Don’t buy the hype about how it’s nothing but great. Neither of us moves much when we sleep, so sometimes, we’ll wake up and find we’ve gone stiff during the night – especially Mitchell, especially the night after a show. These early shows have been the hardest on him. Sometimes, one or the other of us will have an arm or a leg – or shoulder, or whatever – go numb.

The worst happened this morning. I can’t even tell you how it started because I was asleep, but I guess I sneezed.

And, of course, when you’re using a man’s body for your pillow and you sneeze while you’re asleep…

Well, his growls were what woke me. Even then, I was groggy. I’m not trying to justify it, so bear with me. I wasn’t sure what had happened, and I wasn’t even entirely certain I had sneezed in real life even though I’d sneezed in the dream I’d been having.

I moved my hand over his chest and … it was all wet. Not the sweaty kid of wet, either. This was… different.

“What happened?” I asked him.

“You sneezed,” he said. It came out mostly as a growl.

I couldn’t help it. I started to laugh. “You mean I sneezed on you?”

He got out of bed. It was obvious this was funnier to me than it was to him.

I rolled onto my back and laughed some more. He stayed in the bathroom until I stopped giggling, but as soon as he came out and I saw him, I started again. I couldn’t help it. In a way, this was worse than any of those other random body functions that happen while making love.

“Payback’s a bitch, Ker,” he finally said and got back into bed. He made it clear I wasn’t allowed back on his shoulder, and when I rolled onto my side, he fit himself against me.

And that’s when I realized: I had my back to him. And his face.

And paybacks are, indeed, bitches.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Irony?

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Three Word Wednesday and the awesome dudes at Metal Sucks teamed up for this flash featuring ShapeShifter. But… where’s Trevor?

“We’re working with who on this one?” Mitchell asked. He scratched the top of his head, his elbow sticking out at an odd angle. Kerri had to duck under it.

“Jason McNair,” Daniel said, looking over the fax he’d just picked up at the hotel lobby. “He’ll meet us here in the lobby in …” He glanced at his wrist, but Kerri wasn’t sure why. It wasn’t like he ever wore a watch.

Kerri smiled as Daniel looked around the ornate lobby for a clock. A red digital display — terribly out of place with the gold filigree and plush upholstery everywhere else — hung over the front desk. Daniel blinked at it, then checked the fax again. “Ten minutes,” the drummer said.

“Why?” Mitchell asked, sounding pained. “What’s wrong with Adam?”

Daniel shrugged. “JR wanted some new blood. Apparently, this Jason dude has a concept he wants to sell us.” He consulted the fax again as Eric arrived. “We have to behave, JR says,” Daniel continued, acknowledging Eric’s arrival with a shallow nod.

Mitchell began coughing, sounding for all the world like he was choking on something. Kerri understood; telling ShapeShifter to behave was sort of like telling the sun to stop shining. It was also an invitation to create a mob scene.

In short: that sort of instruction never went over well.

Daniel held up the second page of the fax, turning it so Mitchell, Kerri, and Eric could see it. “He’s the one who did this,” he said.
Mitchell’s face turned purple. Kerri, laughing herself, pounded him on the shoulder. Eric frowned and took the picture from Daniel. “We can’t jettison the guy? Get out of here, like, now?”

“Doubt it,” Daniel said. With two fingers, he plucked the page out of Eric’s hands and spent a long minute studying it. Kerri leaned over his shoulder, alternately appalled and amused by it.

The band, who she’d never heard of, was made up of five guys. They stood in a Flying V, the four outside of the vortex looking as typical metal as possible: aloof, disillusioned, angry, ready to kick some ass. All at once.

There was serious irony in the shot, Kerri thought. The straw hat on the dude on the left. The only baldie and the only long-hair standing together.

But that final dude… the one at the back of the V. The one with his back to the camera and his hands held out wide, like they were ready to grab the gun out of the holster on his hip and start shooting, only to reach for the one under his knee when all six shots were gone…

Kerri hoped it was irony the picture was supposed to be conveying.

And God help this Jason guy if he tried to make anyone in ShapeShifter pose like that.

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Trevor Fiction: Sucky Night

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Author’s Note: This Three Word Wednesday post is part of the Trevolution. It has no spoilers for Trevor’s Song, and fits right into any of the Demo Tapes anthologies. If you’re new to the Trevolution, what are you waiting for?

Trevor yawned. It was big enough that the entire floor could see his tonsils, but who fucking cared? This show was lame. Lamest they’d ever done.

Figured there were fifty thousand people in the joint — or there would be by the time Sammy Spencer hit the stage with the latest version of his backup band. No one could take the place of Scarred Heart. And no one cared about who he picked as the first opener for his shows, either.

“Man, we’re fucking up tonight,” Mitchell said between songs. Trevor wasn’t even sure which songs they were between. Everything they played sounded bad. Mitchell, their awesome frontman all the girls dug, was coming off as some dull-assed jerk.

“Man, we sure are!” Trevor shot back with the brightest, fakest voice. Like he was some fucking cheerleader or something. Wouldn’t that be a hoot. As if there were people out there who thought Trevor Wolff wouldn’t put the skirt on. It would be way more fun to get it off the cheerleader he’d steal it from but…

“What?” he asked when Mitchell flicked his ear.

“Quit being an asshole. We’re all in this together. We gotta get out of it together.”

Trevor jerked his chin at Eric. “Been talking to Soul Boy, there, again?”

“Doesn’t matter,” Mitchell said. “We’ve got three songs left and we can let these people think we suck or we can show ’em we’re here for the long haul.”

“I think we ought to race through ’em as fast as we can and go hide out backstage until everyone’s gone,” Trevor said. He nodded and crossed his arms over his chest. His bass bobbed without a hand to steady it.

It was Mitchell who put a hand on it. Mitchell who told him to suck it up. And it was Eric and Daniel who agreed. They’d salvage this show, or they’d die trying.

Dying sounded like the better option to Trevor, but he was smart enough to own up to when he was outvoted. He’d play harder, run around faster, something so Mitchell wouldn’t beat him up later and accuse him of a lack of effort.

As if on cue, Mitchell, Eric, and Trevor turned back to the audience. Trevor watched Mitchell take a deep breath, as if getting ready to turn on the jets and wow these bored people.

Trevor figured he’d let Mitchell do that. In the meantime, Trevor himself would scope out the audience. Maybe a cheerleader had shown up, ready to be charmed out of her skirt.

He could hope.

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Mitchell Fiction: Peanut Butter Cups (Trevor’s Song era)

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If you follow me on Facebook (and, at this point in time, you really should), you’d have seen my link to Edittorrent.

I had seen editor Theresa Stevens making a plea on Twitter for submissions for her setting series. So I wrote her a scene with Mitchell in it.

After MUCH tweaking — some based on the comment trail, some not — I give you the full scene.

“The things I do for Kerri,” Mitchell muttered as he reached for the door. He winced as it flung open; weighing nothing, it had slipped out of his fingers. He could hear Ma’s disapproving voice, telling him to be more careful. It was glass, which did break.

With a lunge, he grabbed the door — after it finished banging into the metal chair rail running the distance around the full-length store windows.

He glanced around the sidewalk, but thanks to his security dudes, he had the general vicinity to himself. Good thing; the band hardly needed rumors that The Great Mitchell Voss was beating up unsuspecting storefronts.

Turning around to carefully close the door behind him, he tried to look through it, as if seeing where he’d just come from would teach him something profound. Weird how he could only see himself in a clear glass door.

So far, this trip was turning into a total mind fuck. And then he turned around to look at the interior of the store.

He’d expected it to be more like The Cocoa Bean at home: sterile rows of glass grocery-store cases, the ones with half-dome fronts. Instead of seafood, the Cocoa Bean cases were loaded with truffles and bon-bons and bark and all that shit girls craved.

And the peanut butter cups. The ones Kerri went so bonkers for, the ones he’d been on a quest for in practically every city he’d been in since she’d discovered the handmade ones at the Cocoa Bean.

If this place had peanut butter cups, they weren’t going to be easy to find. There weren’t any of those cases he’d anticipated seeing. Nope. The place was full of tables. Round ones that’d seat two in a restaurant. Each had been covered by a colored tablecloth so bright, he wanted his sunglasses, and each had been stacked with various forms of chocolate. Every table had a theme and a flower pot set on a pedestal — every bit as gaudy as the damn tablecloths — holding a hard-to-read, hand-lettered sign. In colors that complimented the tablecloths.

He groaned. Deciphering what was what would take all day. He only had an hour, and that included time to get back to wherever it was they were playing that night.

“Can I help you?” A woman practically bounced from a hidden spot in the store. Her dyed black hair made a great contrast with everything else in the place; it was the only soothing thing he’d seen yet. Not even the brown of the chocolate managed to produce that effect.

Mitchell bit back a smile. He’d have never noticed something like that before he’d found his artist wife. “I need peanut butter cups,” he said.

The woman, dressed in a bright green blouse and white pants that positively glowed, beamed, revealing teeth so blinding, Mitchell’s hand reached for his sunglasses all on their own. He sighed in relief.

If the woman was phased, she didn’t show it. “Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or white? Organic? Shade grown? Fair harvested? Free range?”

“Free range?” he repeated, wanting to ask how fucking stupid she thought he was. He held up a hand when she opened her mouth to answer. “I know. It’s a joke. Where are the dark and milk? And do you have samples? She’s particular.”

“Oh, for a particular lady?” The woman actually batted her eyelashes at him.

“Yes.” He thought about turning to go, about leaving. After all, this wild goose chase was something Kerri didn’t even know he was going on. She thought he’d headed out early to give an interview, a last-minute addition to an afternoon of making nice to the press before a concert promoter-baked dinner.

“Well, then, only the best for your lady,” the woman said, leaning close.

Mitchell forced a simpering smile. He’d seen this sort of flirtation too many times — and that was just in getting from the hotel room to the car that’d been waiting for him. “Yes,” he said. “Only the best for my wife.”

The woman pretended to draw back, as if his words had stung. But she moved a little bit faster, producing peanut butter cups from who-knew-where and slicing them in half for him to taste and standing silently as he took a bite of each, all the wind out of her sails.

Either it was inevitable or a total shock, but the cups were good. Damn good. The peanut butter was perfect — peanutty, smooth, melt-on-your-tongue. The milk chocolate was a bit too milky for him, but the dark was bitter yet round. They were so good, he felt bad about standing there like a rude-assed rock star with his sunglasses on.

He didn’t take them off.

He bought a dozen of the dark chocolate cups and was more careful with the glass door as he left. “The things I do for Kerri,” he muttered to Tony, who’d been pressed into action, keeping a few girls from storming the store.

The guard kept the fan girls at bay as Mitchell slid into the car and headed off to meet his wife, peanut butter cups in hand. He couldn’t wait to tell her about the store; she’d love the place. Probably even want to come back and see it for herself.

Just so she left him behind.

It’d be a bonus if she left the chocolate, too.

He smiled as the driver headed for the arena. Yeah. Like he’d done this only for Kerri.

If you’re visiting as part of Sample Sunday, welcome and please leave a comment. I’ll return your visit. Mitchell is a character featured in both Demo Tapes anthologies, as well as in Trevor’s Song. This moment in time parallels Trevor’s Song but doesn’t intersect or spoil the novel. Go here for all the buy links you could possibly need.

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Trevor Fiction: Game On?

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I’m really rocking the fiction lately, no? If you’re here for Sample Sunday, this is a companion piece to all three of my books. Trevor and company run rampant through them, as well as this here blog. It’s building on last week’s post, which built on the post the week before that… As always, be sure to leave a comment so I know you were here.

Trevor knew something was up by the way Daniel and Mitchell approached. Arms crossed over chests, faces serious.

“What did I do this time?” he sighed. Because, really. They only looked like this when he’d done something they decided was wrong.

“You’re not going to like it,” Daniel said. Mitchell shifted his weight and glared at Trevor. Like it was all his fault.

Hell, it probably was.

“Give it to me,” Trevor sighed, leaning back and letting his eyes stay shut in a lingering blink.

Mitchell produced a fax, one of those pages printed on shiny paper with the ink that rubbed off everywhere. “Heard of this Hammerhead band?”

“No. Should I have?”

Mitchell shrugged and held the paper out. Trevor ignored it. “Just tell me.”

“They heard about that thing you did a couple years ago, with the pasties.”

“Huh?” Trevor squinted up at him. This wasn’t the kind of thing he’d been expecting. Not when there’d been an angry boyfriend beating down the dressing room door a few minutes ago. Fuck, he was tired of the losers who said they’d be honored if he’d do their girl, and then change their minds halfway through.

“Remember?” Daniel asked. He sat down beside Trevor on the couch. Eric hadn’t covered it for once; Trevor wasn’t sure what sort of cooties they were picking up from it. Didn’t much care, either. If he needed drugs to kick it, Amy would tell him where to get some.

“Yeah, whatever,” Trevor said. He couldn’t much care about something that had happened years ago. Not right then.

“Told you he wouldn’t remember,” Mitchell said. “Which sucks, Trev. This Howard dude, he’s trying to top you. He’s talking all over the place about it. How he had to show you how to do it right, how he’s better than you.”

Trevor yawned. “So?”

Mitchell pulled back. His glare turned into something more cautious. “So? That’s all you’ve got to say? You’re not going to rise to the occasion and put this guy in his place?”

“Mitchell, you dumb fuck,” Trevor drawled, “Think about it. We’re talking about doing our first headlining tour. This nobody’s trying to show me up, just so people talk about him. And while he’s flapping his lips, he’s giving us some pretty good, pretty free attention at the same time. C’mon. Be smart for fucking once.”

“Getting into a war with him will only make people talk about him,” Daniel said, bobbing his head. He twirled his fingers, even though there was no drumstick in them. “And focus on him, not us.”

And it makes me look like a dork if I don’t answer the right way. Let him talk, M,” Trevor said as Mitchell started to sputter. “If someone asks, I’ll be ready. But in the meantime, mum’s the word.”

“How much weed were you just smoking?” Mitchell asked.

Trevor smiled blissfully. “Enough.” He sat forward. “But even if I wasn’t, why am I helping out a nobody?”

“You didn’t read this article,” Mitchell said, holding it out again. “Daniel and I think we need to invite them to tour with us once we’re headlining. It’d be fun.”

Trevor perked up. “Fun?”

“Fun,” Mitchell said and shook the fax paper so it rattled.

Trevor took it. He was always up for fun.

I’ve linked this up at Three Word Wednesday, since it was written to the prompt, and at the Weekend Writer’s Retreat. Check out both places for some great writing. Also, I’ll be Tweeting this as my Friday Flash and Sample Sunday post. More awesome people to visit!

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Trevor Ficton: Twirling

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If this is your first time visiting with Trevor and the band, welcome! This short fiction ties in to my novel, Trevor’s Song, and will appear in a future Demo Tapes anthology. You who’ve read the book may be quick enough to catch a reference to it, but don’t feel bad if you don’t. This story contains no obvious spoilers — but is the perfect reason why you’ll want to pick up one of my three books and become a proper Trevor Wolff (or Mitchell Voss) groupie.

Mitchell was, Trevor quickly noticed, too dumb or too naïve or too sheltered or too stupid, or too something to realize what had just landed at his feet. Probably all of the above; the idiot was certainly a work in progress.

Trevor, however, was none of the above. When the song ended, he gave Mitchell the old familiar nod, the one to tell the frontman to stand down for a second.

Mitchell stepped back from his microphone and crossed his arms over his chest. Waiting.

Trevor sniffed. The asshole wasn’t giving him the right sort of invitation. Really. This one deserved an introduction. It was going to be good.

But, of course, the guy was too stupid or too something to realize what those round, red pyramids were. They weren’t fucking streamers, like he was probably thinking, what with the strings hanging down from the middles of them, at the top of the peaks. They were way better.

Trevor hoped there’d still be adhesive on the backs. Usable adhesive.

He shoved his bass onto his back and knelt to pick them up. Sure enough, both were right there, waiting for him. This was too good, too perfect.

And then it got better. They hadn’t been used.

He heard a few giggles when he stood up. “These from you?” he asked, leaning out into the barrier space between the stage and the fans. It wasn’t terribly big; hell, the whole place was on the small side. Two hundred people, tops. And only about half that who’d turned out to see the band. And three girls standing there, giggling, their faces flushing with something other than the energy the band was giving off.

One of them had given him a new toy. Even if no one was stepping up to claim responsibility. Yet.

Fucking figured. Even something as simple as this, and no one had the balls — or, in this case, the tits — to own up to having done the deed. Maybe she’d reveal herself later, come up to him after the show, pull the front of her shirt aside so he could see them in action, properly attached and waiting for the sort of attention only Trevor Wolff could give them…

He straightened, feeling Mitchell watching. Eric was curious, of course, and Daniel had stood so he could see over his drums. Not that there had been anything to watch yet, but it was time…

He peeled the paper backing off the adhesive. With his best snigger, he did the same to the other paper, trying to keep both cradled in the same hand. It wasn’t easy; the tassel kept trying to drip between his fingers. Finally, he let it.

Mitchell started tapping a foot. Never a good sign. If the idiot’s face had started to turn red, Trevor didn’t know. He wasn’t looking.

Trevor turned his back on the crowd. Daniel watched as Trev put his new toys in place.

Mitchell took a step back. His eyes got huge as he realized what Trevor had found. With a shake of his head and an arm wiping across his mouth so no one would see him smile, he turned back to the crowd. “And which of you pussies helped Trevor get all dressed up tonight?”

That introduction was better, Trevor decided and turned around, his bass still slung behind him. He grinned and thrust his chest out as far as he could, then did everything he could to make the tassels spin in circles.

Fuck, Stacia made it look easy. But that’s why she was Riverview’s top stripper. And why Trevor was only a bass player.

The crowd didn’t quite roar, but they didn’t fall quiet, either. Trevor could hear some laughter, and a lot of whoops. He tried to shimmy his shoulders. He took three steps forward and four back. He looked over at where Eric should have been, except the guitarist was in the wings, his face buried in a towel and his shoulders shaking harder than Trevor’s.

Trevor tried a few more of Stacia’s moves, and then the audience let loose, howling, cat-calling, and cheering like mad. Still behind his drums, Daniel encouraged them.

It wasn’t until one of his new toys fell off his t-shirt and he fumbled at it, finally managing to catch it and stick it on his bass like a new knob that he’d had enough. Maybe it had something to do with Mitchell, who’d come over to Trevor and was motioning that he was going to pinch the pastie — and Trevor’s tit under it, too. As if Trevor had tits, being a man and all, but that was another story. If you were gonna play the part, you couldn’t bitch when someone else wanted to join in. It was always better with company.

Whatever. Trevor didn’t fucking care — so long as Mitchell didn’t squeeze too hard. He was getting a moment, thanks to stupid-head beside him here.

Or… maybe not. If the guy’d had a clue, Trevor never would have gotten this chance.

He twirled the tassel on the fallen pastie as ge stuck it to his bass and grinned. Too bad there weren’t more people here; it would take awhile for the word of this to spread.

Trevor looked back at those three girls in the front. He’d bet just about anything on one of them approaching and offering to show him the moves he’d botched so badly. Fuck, he wasn’t a stripper. He was a bass player in a rock band, for fuck’s sake. He shouldn’t have to know how to twirl a tassel.

Just so long as she did, Trevor figured they’d be set.

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ShapeShifter fiction: Signs of the Apocalypse

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Daniel had been with Mitchell when the call had come in. It hadn’t taken a lot of discussion for the veto, but Daniel thought Eric and Trevor ought to know what had been suggested.

And then he’d run off to an interview, leaving Mitchell to do the dirty work. Or, as the case — of course — was, hear about it.

“It’s just not plausible,” Eric said, like he had to apologize for his opinion.

Trevor stared at him. “What the fuck? Plausible? Who cares about shit like plausible? It’s a stupid idea and you and Dans were right to say no.”

Mitchell wondered if Trevor even knew what the word meant. He’d be surprised if he didn’t; Trev was smarter than he liked to let on. But over the years, Mitchell had learned that Trev threw tantrums like this, he usually had no fucking clue what he was actually talking about. Especially because in this case, if he could understand Eric, he’d realize he agreed.

“We should absolutely care,” Eric said. “If our fans can’t trust us to be authentic–”

“Wait right there,” Trevor said, holding up a hand. He hadn’t had time to stick his cigarette into the corner of his mouth; he still held it between his thumb and index finger, like a roach. “What the fuck does authentic have to do with plausible?”

Bingo, Mitchell thought, trying to keep his face blank.

“Because,” Eric said, then stopped himself.

“That’s a fucktard of a reason,” Trevor said. He finally perched the cigarette in its place and shoved some hair out of his way. “Why not say something like it’ll taint the pool of samples, or Trev, are you going to do this willingly, or do we have to outvote you again?

“Want us to?” Mitchell asked. It was getting harder to hold back a smile, but if he wasn’t able to, Trevor would go absolutely ballistic. Trevor’s life, after all, was all about the guy’s pride.

“No!” Trevor got up and started pacing. “I want… I want…” He froze, jerked his head up, and narrowed his eyes. “Do you fucks even care what I want?”

“Always have,” Mitchell said as Eric murmured something along the same lines.

“I want you to fucking use words I get! Is that too much to fucking ask for?”

Mitchell pretended to scrub at his face, the way he did when he got frustrated. He figured that this way, Trevor couldn’t see his surprise. Trevor had just owned up to something on his own.

That could very well mean the world was ending.

“Plausible means it’s believable. So if we’re doing something not plausible, we’re also not being authentic, which means real,” Eric said.

“Damn straight that shit’s not believable. Us, doing one of those New Year’s Eve TV shows?”

Mitchell pulled his hands away. “Unless we’re onstage that night and they cut to a live shot of us for a full song. I can see us getting away with that.”

“But not standing on some stage in the middle of fucking Times Square,” Trevor said before Mitchell could.

“I know people who’ve spent their lives dreaming of being there,” Eric said. “We’ve toured with some of them.”

“Which is why we’re on top of the world and they’re down there, still staring up at us,” Trevor said.

“You’d be surprised,” Eric said. “A lot of us grew up watching Dick Clark. It makes sense to dream about. Dick’s launched an awful lot of careers.”

“Launched? We fucking launched years ago,” Trevor sneered.

“Well,” Eric said, “try this. He can launch us into more homes faster than we may get there on our own.”

“Tell me this, Soul Boy,” Trevor said, bending down into Eric’s face. The guitarist leaned back.

Mitchell watched carefully. Trevor being this aggressive must be another sign of the Apocalypse. As if being invited to be on Dick Clark hadn’t been the first. They were adding up, fast.

“Why do we want to be in more homes, faster?” Trevor was asking.

Mitchell breathed again. So that was all Trevor wanted to know.

“So we can rule the Earth?” Eric asked, his gentle voice weak, as if Trevor being in his face was scaring him. “Remember? Doing that was your idea.”

“Yeah, but I never said we should get there this way.”

Eric shrugged. Trevor stood up and looked over at Mitchell. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I already did. If we’re doing a show and they cut in, fine. Otherwise, forget it.”

Trevor stopped cold, as if he hadn’t heard Mitchell say that the first time. He nodded as he thought that over. “So you’re telling me you’re willing to compromise?”

Mitchell sighed. “It’s not such a dirty word, Trev. Try it every now and then.”

“No.”

“I’ve seen them do cut-ins over the years,” Eric said. “It’s not selling out, Trev. It’s letting people join us. Think how many people have turned into ShapeShifter fans because they’ve seen us live.”

Trevor looked from Mitchell to Eric and back again. “Maybe.”

Mitchell gave Eric a quick wink. “That means okay but it kills my pride to admit it.”

Trevor snorted.

Mitchell stared in fascination. Part of him wondered if he looked like that when he snorted, nostrils flared and drops of snot flying, face totally constipated. The other part couldn’t believe Trevor Fucking Wolff had just fucking snorted. That was about as beneath him as compromise.

Of course, he’d just done that, too.

Maybe, Mitchell figured, it was the final sign of the Apocalypse. If so, there was no way in Hell he was doing Dick Clark. Fuck that. He was going to be at home, in bed with Kerri.

Just in case.

Have you missed the fiction around here? I have. I’ve got some other goodies coming up, as well, so stay tuned. This is my #FridayFlash, #SundaySnippet, and Three Word Wednesday post. I may stop writing to the prompts; I don’t know yet. I feel like they’re not as good as when I just let my brain fly on its own.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Responsibility

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“So JR was one of those kids who went to a school that had to cut their music program. What’s the big deal?” Kerri asked later that night, once Daniel had taken the manager to his house and the rest of the band had dispersed.

“So this turned into a fucking pet project of his,” Mitchell said. “Something that’s supposed to grow and advance the cause. We’re now supposed to save every last poor kid in the States, just so they don’t wind up like him.” He hung his head and shook it gently.

Kerri knew he was watching the ends of his hair dance. Usually, it amused her. Tonight, she was too baffled by Mitchell’s violent and childish response to react properly.

“Was it supposed to be yours and no one else’s?” she asked carefully. Next, he’d start accusing her of pandering to him, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. But when he got in these moods, anything was possible.

Except violence, thankfully. Unless Trevor showed up, and then it wasn’t violence. Not really.

“It wasn’t supposed to be anything more than fun,” he insisted. “That’s it. Fun. Fun for our fans, fun for us, fun for the crew and the media and everyone. Except fucking JR had to come in and fucking ruin it for us. Move out of All Access and into the Rocket Theater. Party with the fucking drag queens–”

“Watch it.”

He snarled. She stared him down. “If it’s not fun anymore, then don’t do it,” she said.

“It’d be fun if JR would stop fucking trying to grow it! It’s supposed to be small and stupid and silly and what people want to be part of. It’s not supposed to be huge and country-wide and taking on a life of its own.”

Kerri covered her face with her hands.

“What?” Mitchell demanded.

She looked up. “The problem with creating something awesome and amazing is that it does take on a life of its own. You should be flattered.”

“It just wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

Kerri tried not to sigh too audibly. “Well, it is, so you need to deal with it.”

“No,” Mitchell said. He stood up and immediately started shuffling his feet, like he was ready to go out for a run or something.

Except, Kerri had never known Mitchell to run. Not unless he was chasing Trevor, anyway.

“When it starts hitting too close to home, like JR just made it do, the fun disappears. It turns into the same stupid sort of responsibility that the entire fucking band turned into. Every time we turn around, we owe people shit. And now we owe JR ’cause his life would have been so fucking different if he’d only been able to play a fucking instrument.”

“Maybe his lack of musical background is part of what makes him such a good manager,” Kerri said.
Mitchell gave her a sharp glance, like he’d had the same thought and hadn’t been able to justify believing it.

“You’re letting this get to you,” Kerri said. “You’re not responsible for your manager growing up poor.”
“No, now I’m responsible for him being fucking rich.”

“He’s every bit as responsible for you and your success. It goes both ways.”

Mitchell growled. Kerri bit back a smile; he hated it when she sounded like Trevor, pointing out the obvious.

“I’m still not making a benefit song,” he said, sneering the last word.

“Don’t. No matter what connection JR’s got to it, the benefit is still your baby. Besides, what did Daniel and Eric say?”

“No.”

“There you go. What are you so stressed about?”

Mitchell turned his back on Kerri and mumbled something that sounded like I feel responsible now.

She didn’t doubt that he did.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Benefit Song

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Yep, I’m tying this Three Word Wednesday post into the Musical Hanukkah Celebration. Sales are picking up, so be sure to be part of this extravaganza. The more books you buy, the bigger our own donation. No benefit song needed.

If the guys in ShapeShifter had learned anything about their motor-mouth manager, it was that as soon as he stopped with the verbal diarrhea, the band was in serious danger.

“A proposal has been made,” JR said.

Mitchell pushed back into the couch. Like backing away would help.

Trevor noticed Eric and Daniel were doing it, too. He figured a smart person would brace himself, but no one had ever told Trevor he was smart. Besides, whatever it was couldn’t be worse than Mitchell bringing Rusty into their lives.

Trevor Wolff hated to be wrong.

“As part of the Musical Hanukkah Celebration,” the manager said, still so slowly, a person could actually, honest-to-God make out where each word began and ended, “it’s been suggested.”

“Out with it already!” Mitchell roared.

JR scratched the back of his hand. His momentary silence was both a delight and a cause for serious concern. This was going to be bad, Trevor realized.

The manager drew in a breath, but when he spoke, he wasn’t off to the races like usual. “All the bands participating in the event get together beforehand, say before Thanksgiving, and collaborate on a song. Think We are the World, or Live Aid.”

Trevor expected Mitchell to lose it so utterly, he’d blow a few gaskets and they’d have to rush him to Amy’s office for some doctoring. Instead, the guy had face-planted in his own lap, hands dangling on the floor, oh-so-happy to have had this shit land on his head. Clearly, the guy wasn’t going to be able to come through in the clutch. Not this time.

“M?” Eric asked. “You okay?”

Mitchell shook his head. Trevor figured that couldn’t feel good, with his nose scraping his legs. Then again, maybe it wasn’t so bad; the guy didn’t have the sort of schnozz Trevor did.

“Need a barf bag?” Daniel asked.

Mitchell kept shaking his head.

Trevor leaned forward and peered more closely at the big idiot. The guy’s face was bright red; how he wasn’t shaking with rage, Trevor didn’t know.

“Quit showing us Rusty’s favorite fuck position and fucking talk to us already,” he said, turning his back on the guy. He began to count.

Sure enough, he’d only gotten to three when the dragon let the fire-breath out. “A fucking benefit song? On top of everything else we’re doing here?”

“It’s great publicity,” JR said. Something must have loosened his tongue because he started blathering about the exposure and the money they could earn. “It’s about kids, Mitchell. Daniel, Eric, talk some sense into the guy will you please We can bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars just by pricing this as a ninety-nine cent download Hundreds of thousands!”

“NO!” Mitchell howled. He jumped to his feet and got in JR’s face, shutting the manager up. “There will be no benefit song, do you fucking hear me, JR? Bringing other bands in other cities into this thing was bad enough. The whole idea here was to have fun, remember? Where the fuck did that go? Why the fuck is this all about the money to you?”

JR’s face turned red.

“Oh, motherfucker,” Mitchell said. It came out in a breath, airy and defeated.

Trevor couldn’t agree more.

This piece will be continued! In the meantime, pick up my books or make a direct donation — the latter option will get you an entry into a raffle for some great books that I did not write!

Be sure to stop in at the Weekend Writer’s Retreat, as well — see what’s been posted and add your own fiction!

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Kerri and Mitchell Fiction: Couches

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“I think,” Mitchell said, “we should go over to the Rocket early, so I can catch a nap in the production office before the show this year.”

Kerri eyed him. “Don’t you remember? There’s no couch in the production office at the Rocket Theater. It’s not big enough.”

“But I play better when I get a nap in the production office before the show.”

“I know,” Kerri said, wondering where this fit of diva behavior had come from. Even for Mitchell, it was an abrupt shift in attitude. “It’s also a month away.”

“They’ve got time to put a couch in there,” Mitchell said.

Kerri gaped at him. Of all the stupid things… “M,” she said slowly, trying to keep cool, no matter how tempting it was to smack some sense into him, even if she had to do it verbally, “if they put a couch in there, half of it will stick into the hallway, and that’s after they move the desk out. Really. The production office at the Rocket is an old coat closet. I can guarantee you Penis and Chrome don’t fit in there at the same time.”

Mitchell snickered. Kerri rolled her eyes. The whole world spent hours trying to figure out what sort of relationship Penis and Chrome had. Both were, apparently, hetero. But there was something more between them, something about the idea of the two of them stuffed into that small production office…

“I don’t even think they use it as an office,” she continued. “I think it’s just a place to store old paperwork.”

Mitchell set his guitar down — the bright yellow one tonight, with the black piping around the edges that made it look like a deformed, demented bumblebee — and got up. He started pacing around the TV room.

“Why are you so tied in knots about it this year? It’s got to be old hat by now.”

“That’s the problem,” he said. “You get to the point where you get lazy. Or Trevor figures out how to sneak one in. Or something else goes wrong and you’re so stuck on autopilot, you can’t react in time.”

“And a routine nap before the show will…”

He grimaced and ran a hand through the top of his hair, pulling it away so Kerri could see his ears. He was wearing the graduated diamond studs she and his sister Amy had bought him; the diamonds glittered in the low light, pinpricks of light marching up his earlobe.

“Fuck you, Ker,” he said.

She smiled. “That’s not routine yet, either?”

He returned the smile, locking eyes with her. “I don’t think that’s possible, babe.

“You know,” Mitchell said, breaking their gaze and making it obvious he was contemplating the couch. “There’s a couch here. I could nap on it before the show.”

“Do other things on it, too.”

His grin was as wolfish as Trevor’s ever were.

So much for routine, Kerri thought.

Some Musical Hanukkah Fun for you. And the usual reminder — up to 50% of my royalties in November and December are being donated to charity. Buy my books! Or while you’re checking out the contest page, make a direct donation and be entered to win a book NOT written by me.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Quitting Jim Shields

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Note from Susan: if you click on Green Hair Week, you’ll learn a little bit about Jim Shields and what happened to Mitchell. While this piece is a companion to my novel, Trevor’s Song, and will probably feature in a Demo Tapes anthology somewhere down the road, it has no spoilers for anything already in print.

“The guy just makes my skin crawl,” Mitchell said, trying to suppress the shudder. “We need to be off this tour and done with him.”

“Has he done something to offend?” JR asked.

Mitchell paused, waiting for JR’s usual verbal onslaught. It didn’t come. JR was actually, for once, quiet.

Trevor flicked his cigarette from the corner of his mouth onto the ground. He didn’t bother to grind it dead. “What the fuck does it matter? The guy’s a fucking powder keg. Up one minute, down the next. All in our faces about shit we can’t control, then making like he’s our best friend.”

“He’s too volatile,” Eric said, nodding.

Mitchell thought about that for a second, then nodded. Perfect way to describe the dick. Volatile.

“Backstage is a powder keg,” the guitarist went on. “We all hate being there. C’mon, JR. There’s got to be a way to get us off this tour. Daniel and M here say you’re getting all sorts of offers for us to open for better acts. I think you need to take a longer look at some of them, even if it means we take a break.”

“It hasn’t all been bad with Jim,” the manager said. “You had a nice long break in Phoenix and it turned out to benefit you quite well”

“My hair turned green,” Mitchell said. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at the manager until JR shut up.

“But the break refreshed you. It taught me and your booking agents quite a bit that we’ll be discussing once it’s your turn to headline but for now, you’re not quite ready to headline, so it’s all opening acts for you still and really, Jim Shields isn’t that bad of a guy Why can’t you just finish up this tour like we’ve planned It’s really not that much longer”

“Because,” Trevor said, taking his time as he lit up a new cigarette. It was for effect, Mitchell could tell. Hell, most of Trevor’s cigarettes were for effect. His own bad boy version of being demure. Or something.

“I need more of a reason than that, Trevor. You have a contract with Jim You signed it and were perfectly happy to You were excited, even, and so was I This was going to be a good thing, bringing you new fans and getting you into cities you’d never visited before.”

“Because,” Mitchell growled, “if you don’t get us away from that asshole, I’m going to shove his microphone stand up his ass and make it come out his mouth. I don’t give a shit about contracts or opportunities or anything like that. I care about not being yanked around by this asshole anymore.”

He was aware of everyone around him cringing, of his voice rising, of the pressure in his cheeks that meant his face had turned red. Trevor would probably tell him later that viens had popped. He didn’t care. Didn’t care about any of it. He’d had enough. The band had had enough. It had nothing to do with his fucking green hair and everything to do with unstable dickhead Jim Shields. This is what it had come down to. It was a matter of survival, no matter how fucking dramatic that sounded. No one could live like Jim was making them live.

Mitchell would be damned if ShapeShifter was going to have to keep trying.

Yup, this is a Three Word Wednesday prompt: demure, offend, volatile. And I’ll link it at The Weekend Writer’s Retreat, also. AND at Friday Flash. AND Sunday Scribblings. That might be all, but who knows? I do like to increase my fan base!

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Trevor Fiction: Swimming

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If you’re new here, these characters can be found in all three of my books, The Demo Tapes (Year 1 and Year 2) and Trevor’s Song, the new, full-length novel starting the toasted marshmallow featured below. There are no spoilers in the following piece.

Noooo. Hotel pools were no longer good enough for the Great Mitchell Voss, it seemed. Nope. The fucker had to be outside, in the sunshine, where it was warm and where the sun would glisten off his fucking suntanned skin and make all the housewives swoon with longing at the way the golden tan contrasted with the loser’s silver-blonde hair.

Of course, there was a plus to this outdoor pool they were walking into: Charlie had promised them up and down no one would bat an eye at them. This pool was part of some blueblood health club, where any idiot could come ogle the pro athletes and the local TV people and everyone else who didn’t deign to be bugged by the adoring yokels who don’t know when to give a person some space.

They probably wouldn’t get anyone to play in the water with, Trevor figured. Places like this, no one did anything but swim laps and work on their tans. The people here were pampered. They preened.

They’d never let the likes of ShapeShifter invade them again.

They hadn’t even gotten into the place, and Trevor knew how it’d end. With the four of them walking out, laughing over a good time — and every other poor sod in the joint trying to figure out what had just happened to them. Oh, some of the women would be all intrigued, biting their lower lips and considering taking old Trevor up on his attentions. If only they weren’t married. If only they didn’t have the kids, or the stretch marks, or the guts…

Yeah. Nothing would come of that, either. Talk about a waste of a day’s good flirting.

Except… once they got there, count on Mitchell to fuck up the script. To pull off his shirt and make his hair cascade out behind him like some fucking romance novel cover model. If the band tanked, the asshole sure had another career waiting — so long as someone airbrushed his face real good. Then again, the girls seemed to like that cleft chin and those blue-green eyes well enough.

By the time Mitchell swan dived off the diving board the first time, every one of those pampered moms, their bodies too taut to have birthed babies and look so good without the benefit of plastic work along the way, their kids snot-nosed despite the good, chlorinated water to rinse it off. Yeah, every last person at that pool was sighing and wishing Mitchell would come talk to them. Even the grandma, her skin leathery from too many days out by this pool and her hair one of the fakest oranges Trevor had ever seen. Yeah, even her.

They’d be invited back, no doubt about it.

Trevor wasn’t sure if he should be grateful to Mitchell — burning every bridge you came to got old every now and then — or hate the bastard for the way the big idiot could make every single person on the planet eat out of the palm of his hand.

Maybe he’d settle for doing both.

**
Once again, I’ll be linking this piece up at a bunch of places. The Weekend Writer’s Retreat. Friday Flash. Writer’s Island.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: The Tragedy of Sonny Levy

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Mitchell walked into the catering room and tossed the magazine on the table in front of Daniel.

The drummer paused, a burger halfway to his mouth. “What’s this?”

Mitchell chuckled. “Just read it. Wait ’till you’re done or you’ll wind up with dinner all over it, though.”

“I’m warned?”

“You’re warned.”

Daniel watched Mitchell walk over to the catering buffet and start dictating to the staff. When it came to his food, this wasn’t entirely Mitchell being a dick for the sake of being a dick. The guy really did want his burger fresh off the grill and the bun lightly toasted. The only reason no one mutinied and told him to suck it up was because he’d wait while they cooked it properly. He never complained, even on the nights when it took longer than it should have.

Shaking his head at Mitchell’s quirks, Daniel turned the magazine so it was right-side up. The cover story had been written by their buddy Kermit Ladd, the world’s most pretentious reporter. The guy lived to inject himself into the story.

The victim this time had been Sonny Levy. No real surprise there; the guy was hot stuff. Everyone wanted a piece of him — and the guy was responding. Not in the usual way, sucking up to the press and declaring them to be his new best friends. Nope. Sonny was the latest guy on the fast-track to burning out before he got another day older. In short, Sonny was an OD waiting to happen.

Daniel looked the article over.

“Your ever-inquisitive intrepid reporter, Kermit Ladd, was brave enough to face the hassle that getting near Sonny Levy has become. He’s been a wealth of gossip of late, and that meant there was only one man up to sorting through it all.”

Daniel rolled his eyes. Yeah, it was typical Kermit. That was the problem: he was tired of seeing it. It was old-hat by now and boring as shit.

Until it got good, mid-way down the first column. “Watching Levy on stage makes one realize the man’s pain is there for the world to see. And what pain it is. The man is clearly so deeply in the closet, he suffers the delusion that his fans can’t see it. If it were up to Sonny Levy, there would be belief around the world that no gay man moves the way he does. Not to mention the crocheted shawls he likes to wrap around himself.

“Any human being who needs to keep himself this far into the closet would wind up an addict. There is not an addiction expert on the planet who would disagree with yours truly.”

Shaking his head, Daniel closed the magazine. Mitchell hadn’t been kidding; it was worthy of spewing dinner on — although Daniel wasn’t sure if it would be disgust or utter amusement. Kermit was reaching on this one. He’d be lucky if Sonny Levy’s people didn’t sue him for it.

He mentioned that to Mitchell, who brought his plate over. It was piled high with potato chips, so many that the burger was buried. He, of course, had a second plate piled equally as high with salad, probably tossed fresh while he waited for the burger to cook. And between his fingers, dangling precariously, was a bottle of Italian salad dressing.

“Better he’s fucking up with Sonny than us. Fucker may not even notice what Kermit wrote. If it was us…” Mitchell shook his head and swished some of the potato chips out of his way. “He wouldn’t write his mom a letter ever again.”

“Think there’s any truth to it?” Daniel asked, holding his breath. He knew the answer. Of course he did. The whole world did.

“Absolutely,” Mitchell said and took a bite of his burger.

Daniel wasn’t sure which was the bigger tragedy. That Sonny was such a mess, or that Kermit had grown some balls and decided to share that mess with the world.

Some Three Word Wednesday fun for you, that’s also linked up at the Weekend Writer’s Retreat. And, hey! Kermit is always for himself, so that fits the Sunday Scribbling prompt, too! I’ve been busy with the kids so far this summer and have written next to nothing. Have no fear, though, what time I DO have despite those rugrats is being spent on Trevor’s Song. News of that to come as soon as I get a moment to breathe. Ahh, if they’d only put Wi-Fi in at the pool!

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Trevor and Mitchell Fiction: Wet Jeans

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This is another Three Word Wednesday post — one that went in directions I hadn’t been expecting. It’s also partially inspired by this prompt at Thursday Tales.

“Give it up, Trev,” Mitchell said from behind him. “We’re gonna get wet.”

“I don’t want to get wet.”

“Why not? Afraid you’ll melt?”

Trevor turned to the big idiot. “Because I don’t want to,” he said, making each word come out of his mouth as precisely as possible.

“It’s another science experiment, right?” Mitchell went on, giving Trevor’s shoulder a shove. “If you go without washing your jeans, they’ll get so dirty, they’ll disintegrate, but they’ll do it all gradual, so no one’ll ever know what’s skin and what’s jeans. You’ll go around bare-assed naked and no one will know the difference.”

Trevor sniffed and stuck his nose in the air. “You’re the one who likes to go without clothes. All I said was that I didn’t want to get wet.”

“I still don’t see what the big deal is.”

“I don’t see your precious ass out there.”

“It’s a downpour. I’m waiting for it to let up a bit.”

Trevor nodded knowingly. “Because you don’t want to get wet, either.”

“I don’t want to get drenched. There’s a difference.”

“Yeah, like the difference between a girl and a woman. They got all the same parts. It’s just that some aren’t fully formed yet and others are overripe.”

Mitchell gave him an odd look. Trevor figured his example hadn’t gone down quite right. Time to abandon it and go for something else. “You know,” he said, “if we were real rock stars instead of guys on our way up, we’d have people here to hold umbrellas for us.”

“We’d have someone here to wash your jeans, too.”

Trevor smirked. “They are clean. Eric took my stuff when he went to the laundromat the other day.”

Mitchell nodded like he’d known that. Probably had, the wanker. Hell, he’d probably been there with Eric, combining their clothes so no skivvies got turned pink. Not that it mattered if they did; they’d just give them to some eager girls and send ’em on their way.

“Then why don’t you want to get wet?” Mitchell asked.

Trevor turned to the idiot. This conversation was old. Time to end it.

Even though his back was to the door, Trevor took that dreaded step outside. At least he was facing Mitchell and could see the guy’s eyes get all wide as Trevor was suddenly as wet as if he’d walked into a car wash.

Being wet sucked, but laughing at Mitchell was worth every second of the way his jeans were about to chafe.

*
It seems that a reluctance to go outside into the elements is a common theme with me. Remember Smoke Break, now found in Demo Tapes: Year 1? Or Hot, in Demo Tapes: Year 2?

This is a darn good time to join the Trevolution. Pick up the books, in print or digital format (I have copies I can sell you directly if you’d like autographs), and get ready as the Trevolution goes novel length in the near future!

And don’t forget to stop by (or join!) the Weekend Writers Retreat, too.

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Mitchell Fiction: Family Complete

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Mother’s Day – Twitter Chats Blog Tour

Welcome to the Twitter Chats Blog Tour, organized by Mariana N. Blaser at mariblaser’s randomities and Anne Tyler Lord at Don’t Fence Me In. Today’s theme is Mother’s Day.

You’ll be traveling with us through the blogs of some of the fantastic authors and writers who participate in our weekly — funny, entertaining and educating — Twitter chats. This tour will feature writers from #writechat, #litchat, and #fridayflash.

You will be directed to your next stop at the end of this post. Please feel welcome here, and have a happy Mother’s Day!

(I’m supposed to insert a separation here, but damned if I know how to)
.

Sonya held the precious bundle more securely and bowed her head over it. Her boy. She and Patterson had made a boy at last.

Even though Patterson had Beth playing baseball in their back yard, she knew he privately hoped for a boy he could play with. Patterson was good with their two girls and they adored their daddy, but Sonya believed it was true: every man pined for a son. Sons didn’t grow their hair long. They didn’t wear earrings. They played baseball, not softball. In the Voss family, boys were as American as hot dogs, apple pie, and the Fourth of July.

Sonya smiled, remembering the Christmas just past. The two grandmothers had stood in Sonya’s kitchen and stared at her swelling baby, debating. Boy or girl?

Everyone had agreed: it was a boy in there, a boy who would eventually come out of Sonya and drag half her innards along with him. Or so it felt. It hadn’t mattered once she’d laid eyes on him, of course, the doctors working frantically above her. The baby was perfect. Boy or girl; all that mattered had been the perfection.

It was later, during these quiet times, when Sonya could reflect on how important it had been to her, too, to have a boy. Especially after this little one had made sure the family was complete. It was as if he’d said he was special enough, there could be nothing to follow him. It didn’t matter that his parents had wanted four children. No one would follow Mitchell into the world.

He scrunched his face, yawned, cracked his eyes, and smacked his lips. The perfect baby.

Sonya’s heart melted as her son started rooting, hungry again.

Three children had never seemed more perfect.

.
(I’m supposed to insert another separation, but I’m still damned if I know how to.)

Thanks for stopping by! Your next stop for the Mother’s Day Twitter Chats Blog Tour is Tony Noland of Landless.

The complete list of participants can be found at the host’s blogs: Mariana N. Blaser and Anne Tyler Lord.

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Mitchell Fiction: Message Received

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“Here’s some mail and some messages that arrived for you, Mr. Vreyman,” the woman at the hotel counter said, handing over a pile that had to be at least two inches thick.

Mitchell tried not to groan at the sight of it. As he swiped the key card off the counter, he turned away and started reading the top page, a fax from JR.

“Oh, and a package!” the counter woman said, freezing Mitchell mid-stride.

Before he could react, Charlie lunged for it. “I’ll take that,” he said, snatching it away before Mitchell could see it. “Expecting anything?” The tour manager said.

Mitchell tried to read the label on it. “Just let me look for a second.”

“Sorry. If you’re not expecting it…”

Mitchell growled. So fucking what if this was JR’s new safety rule? It was entirely possible that Amy or Ma had sent this and forgotten to tell him to expect it. And if Kerri had sent it to surprise him, she’d have sent it directly to Charlie. His hotel sign-in name made her giggle. He kind of liked it: E. Vreyman.

Best of all, none of the band’s fans had figured it out.

Charlie wound up in the elevator with him, but Mitchell began sorting through the shit that had been waiting for him. All band business: from JR, their manager, from the record label, from the publicists. It was probably going to mean the rest of the day spent with Daniel, who was probably already in his room, making his own sense of the same exact shit.

He’d been in his room for three minutes when Charlie knocked at the door and handed the box to him. Didn’t even come in the room, just stuck his arm in and said, “My mistake. This was expected.”

Mitchell grunted at him, knowing the guy would freak if he heard anything more, and closed the door. The box wasn’t big; it sat right on his palm. It hung over the sides but didn’t make it to the tips of his fingers. It was a perfect cube.

Mitchell smiled at it. Only Kerri would find this sort of box.

He shoved the papers aside and sat on the edge of the bed to open the box and see what she’d sent.

It made no sense. She’d sent him a bottle opener.

He lifted it out of the packing peanuts and stared at it. It sat on his palm the same way the box had, only it was smaller. Seemed to weigh more now that it’d been freed from its package.

A bottle opener.

He didn’t get it. He rarely drank beer that still had the tops on when it was handed to him — and that assumed it was even still in the bottle. He hadn’t gotten used to the way people fell over themselves to open a stupid bottle of beer for him. Like he was incapable now that the band was big.

It made as much sense as the bottle opener.

Except, suddenly, the bottle opener made perfect sense.

Mitchell grinned. He couldn’t help it.

He stretched out on the bed, pulled a pillow out from under the ugly comforter, and got lost in the plans of what exactly they were going to do to each other when she showed up in a day or two.

When the knock sounded on the door, he laughed. He hadn’t realized he’d been expecting it. Or the gorgeous redhead who was on the other side, holding a stack of extra towels and a bottle of schnapps.

***
Lots more Sunday Scribblings for you, and lots of messages inside those scribblings. Go knock yourself out.

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Mitchell Fiction: Oracle

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Kerri paused, struck by the reverence with which Mitchell reached for the guitar. His hands were soft, cupped, his arms strong. As the Oracle was placed into his hands, they swayed slightly, as if allowing it a harsh meeting with his palms would be an insult.

His manner was probably the same as that of a True Believer who was accepting communion, Kerri figured. She immediately began sketching as Adam’s shutter began snapping.

To Mitchell, there probably wasn’t much difference between this guitar and holy communion. The Oracle had once belonged to Soul Bendorff. The Oracle wasn’t the guitar he’d set on fire at the end of every show. Hell, the Oracle hadn’t been allowed on the road. It had been the original prototype for the Soul Bendorff model. It had been Soul’s guitar, the one he’d bent sounds with and broken barriers with.

And now Mitchell held in it his hands, thanks to a private audience with a rock-and-roll memorabilia collector named Jeff. He’d first claimed to be a ShapeShifter fan, but a few sneaky questions had proved that the guy was mostly interested in the publicity the photo op would bring him.

Mitchell carefully set the Oracle on his leg, his hands instinctively finding their spots: one ready to strum, the other to chord.

“Here,” the collector, Jeff said, jumping forward to plug the guitar’s power cord into the solid-wood body. He fiddled with the knobs for Mitchell, who lifted an eyebrow but said nothing. Then, when Jeff stepped away, Mitchell began to play.

Kerri had still been sketching as all that took place, but as Mitchell’s notes turned from tentative to assertive, as he began playing first an old Soul Bendorff classic and then his own song: Behold Me, she got as caught up in the music as Mitchell. She didn’t get lost in it as often as Mitchell did, but right then, she was entranced.

At the end of Behold Me, Mitchell grimaced and shook his head. “I ought to give this back. I don’t want to abuse it.”

“I think it needs to be yours,” Jeff breathed. He wasn’t much older than they were; maybe a year. Maybe. He’d gotten his MBA and ran his father’s development company out here in Omaha. A company that bought foreclosed farmland and built towns on it. Kerri knew how Mitchell felt on the subject, how he’d have ordinarily refused this sort of connection. Too many ShapeShifter fans had been thrown off their land — but just as many had benefitted from the towns that had been built.

But this was the Oracle. It had once been Soul Bendorff’s. And guitar players like Mitchell Voss owed a lot to Soul Bendorff.

“Really, man,” Jeff said. There was more heart to his voice; wherever the music had taken him, he was coming back from it. “This guitar… it needs something. You can feel it, you know? Maybe what it needs is you.”

Mitchell ran his hands over the side of the body facing up. He didn’t say anything.

Kerri realized she was holding her breath.

“I want to give it to you,” Jeff said.

Give it to me.” It wasn’t a question. Kerri breathed again.

Jeff held his hands out and backed up a step, as if Mitchell was trying to return the guitar and he was refusing it. “Give it to you. No strings attached. Ha-ha. Strings. Get it?”

Mitchell nodded, frowning. “I get it.” He stood up and set the Oracle gently back into the stand Jeff had taken it from. “I’ll have my lawyer call you.”
“Dude,” Jeff said, suddenly Mitchell’s best friend. “We don’t need to do that. Here. Take it with you.”

“And have you scream about how I stole it? Maybe not today or next week, but a few years down the road when you’re hard up for cash and you think about what you gave up? No. If you want to give this to me, then fine. We do it right. I’ll have my lawyer call.”

He stood up. Kerri and Adam, the photographer, walked out of the room with him.

“Are you sure?” Kerri asked softly as they left.

“Yes,” Mitchell said. “We do it right or we don’t it.”

“You’d kill for that guitar.”

“Yeah,” he said through an exhale. “I would. And that’s the problem.”

Kerri nodded. She understood.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Glass

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Glass.

If he closed his eyes, that’s what Mitchell visualized. Shards of glass, poking their pointy, broken ends into his throat. His sore, tender throat. The one that needed to be able to sing for two and a half hours.

Last time he’d felt like this, Amy had sent him medicine. It had worked just fine on his throat but fucked with the rest of him. Not in a good way for a guy on the road. Eric hadn’t minded the extended guitar solos the first two nights, but when it dragged on for eight, not to mention how it’d slowed down their travel with Mitchell’s constant need to stop, even the guitarist, the most tolerant of all of them, had had enough.

As if Mitchell hadn’t. After all, it was his body the medicine had fucked up.

He wasn’t calling Amy so fast. Not if she was going to do that to him again.

Still, he had two interviews to give before the show later that night. Sucking on lollipops helped a bit, but not for very long, and it was hard to talk with a sucker in your mouth. That wouldn’t work with the press, even if most of them were dicks. It wouldn’t wash later, during the show, although it might be fun to flick a sucker from your mouth into the crowd, just to see what would happen.

Probably fall in that safety zone between the fans and the stage.

“Dans? Where’s the honey?”

The drummer crossed the room; he’d been primping for an interview of his own and the dressing room felt empty with just the two of them in it. Eric would show in another hour, to give some face time himself, and Trevor would appear… whenever King Trevor felt like it.

“Right there, by your right hand,” Daniel said, surveying the catering table set up in their dressing room.

Mitchell figured that was how it went. He was busy looking at the set-up for the tea, the bags and the sugar and the powdered flavored creamers for coffee, the real milk in the ice tubs with the beer and Gatorade. The honey was… there with the ketchup and shit. Made perfect sense.

It was one of those honey bears. They were fun to fuck around with; Daniel was constantly coming up with new things to do with the stupid things. Mitchell picked this one up, turned it ass-up, and poured a dollop of honey directly onto his tongue.

“Slick,” Daniel said.

Mitchell swallowed and shrugged. And then he closed his eyes and swallowed again. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better.

He set the bear down — near the tea and coffee shit this time — and eyed the back of its head. That same spot he liked to whack Trevor in. He swallowed again, and gave the bear an affectionate pat.

It may have been an old wives’ tale that honey soothed a sore throat, but those old wives sure knew a thing or two.

Whoever the fuck the old wives were.

“Mitchell, ready?” Charlie asked, sticking his head in the dressing room. “I’ve got one reporter on the hook for you, and a quiet spot for you to inflict the torture.”

Mitchell turned to go, then stopped. He twisted and picked up the bear. It could come with him. Maybe he’d have some fun with it and the reporter.

Maybe the reporter would know who the old wives really were.

Honey on glass. He’d take it.

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ShapeShifter Fiction: Field on Fire (Post Trevor’s Song era)

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“Shame it had to end like this,” Kerri said, looking out at the quiet beyond the stage. Usually, this sort of quiet was reserved for late, after the band had showered and was getting ready to move on to the next town.

Mitchell grunted agreement and squeezed her hand.

“Dumbfucks,” Trevor said, an unlit cigarette dangling off his lip. A breeze blew the scent of scorched sod their way.

“Who?” Kerri asked. “The fans, or Hammerhead?”

Mitchell snorted. “Fucking Howard,” he said. “Get a break like this one and fuck it up. What an idiot.”

“Rub it in,” a voice said behind them. The three turned to look, finding Howard the Hammer standing off to one side. “I didn’t think they’d really do it.”

Mitchell glared at him, a rumble deep in his throat.

“Okay,” Howard said, blowing out a breath. He shook his head quickly, a familiar gesture that utterly failed — as usual — at getting his dark wooly hair out of his eyes. “I sorta wondered what they’d do. But I didn’t think… didn’t believe…”

Mitchell let go of Kerri’s hand and crossed the distance to Howard. He stopped in front of him, chest to chest. “Do you fucking know how much shit you’ve caused here? Who do you think is gonna get charged for resodding this entire fucking lawn?”

“I’ll pay you back,” Howard said, shifting from foot to foot.

“Not good enough,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t even get to fucking play tonight, thanks to you.” He gestured widely, meaning Howard to see, Kerri guessed, the fact that Mitchell should have been wearing skin-tight black jeans and a guitar instead of knee-length baggy camo shorts and a black tank top. “Our manager’s going to have to fucking bend over and grab his ankles for months before we’ll be allowed here again. As for you? You might be done, man. This will follow you around. I bet right now, as soon as you get near that production office, you’re going to be handed a list of shows that’ve been cancelled. Assuming JR hasn’t just decided to pitch you off the tour in the hopes that people will get that this wasn’t my band behind this shit. Because every single news source out there is saying this happened at a ShapeShifter show. That’s what this was. A ShapeShifter show. With special guest, Hammerhead. See how that works?”

Howard winced: face, shoulders, arms. Even his legs bowed with his chagrin.

Kerri itched for a pencil and sketchpad.

Trevor strolled across the empty stage, slowly. He turned to Howard. “I had plans tonight. You fucked me up.”

“I… I’m sorry.”

“This is only the start of being sorry, man,” Mitchell said. “You might have just effed up your career for life. Even if you fold Hammerhead and start another band, you’ll always be the asshole who told a worked-up crowd to set the field on fire.”

“Not to mention the only other person who’s managed to get a ShapeShifter show cancelled,” Trevor called from center stage. “This band doesn’t cancel.”

“I’m in good company?” Howard offered weakly, then bowed his head when he noticed Mitchell’s face. Kerri knew she’d have to get him away from Howard, and fast. Not that she blamed him in the least. It wasn’t supposed to have gone this way. It should have been a routine show, spiced up by whatever Trevor had planned.

Trevor, who suddenly seemed a lot more middle-of-the-road than he could probably stand being. Whose hijinks always had something behind them, some point he was trying to make, a statement he wanted others to get. Trevor pulled his shit deliberately. He’d never encourage twenty-three thousand people to rip up a lawn and set it on fire — if only because they’d be looking at the flames and not him.

Mitchell took her hand again and they crossed the stage to join Trevor. Kerri bent her knees slightly and kissed Trevor on the cheek.

“Yeah, yeah,” he said to her, putting his fingertips over the spot her lips had just touched. There was no wiping off, no screaming about cooties. Kerri made note of that.

Mitchell took a swipe at the back of Trevor’s head. None of his anger at Howard came through. “Come help me fix this mess, will ya?”

Trevor flicked his unlit cigarette off the edge of the stage, into the security area between where the fans should have been and where the band should have been. “I fucking hate cleaning up after dumbfucks,” he muttered.

As they matched Trevor’s speed off the stage, Kerri looked back for one last glance at Howard the Hammer. Head bowed, shoulders sagging, he looked like someone who knew his dreams had gone up in the same flames as the lawn.

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