Most of what my co-writer, Racheline Maltese, and I write can be pretty fairly classified as an HEA. We like finding new and creative ways (and subverting some old ones) to give our characters their well-earned Happily Ever After.
Which makes Room 1024 -- which is a solidly HFN story -- a bit of a departure for us.
The ending of this novella is, never fear, happy. But there’s a bittersweetness to it, too.
We like to write romance as realistically as possible, according to our own experiences and understandings of relationships and the world. Which means writing endings that, while (we hope) satisfying for the characters and the readers, are also complex, and come with their own little pains as well as happinesses. Life is, after all, complex and hard. Relationships that are 99% perfect can fall apart over the 1% that Just. Doesn’t. Work. People change, and grow in different directions -- or change again, and move back together again. And the path to making a relationship -- whether between two people, or four -- is a long and rocky one.
Happiness doesn’t happen overnight. Very little in life -- or in the kind of romance we like to write -- is certain. People, and characters, need to make decisions and commitments one day at a time. But the only way to get to happily ever after, is to start with happily for now.
When Cameron takes his submissive boyfriend Noah to a gay men's leather convention in San Francisco, Cam expects to spend the week exploring their relationship and experimenting with non-monogamy. What he doesn't expect is to run into his own former dom, Lou, in an embarrassingly public reunion.
While Noah is enthusiastic about the opportunity to play with the former international leather title-holder, Cam is more wary. He and Lou have unfinished business. A four-way encounter with Lou and his sub Stephen could be great fun—or it could show Noah that Cameron can never quite be the dom he wants and needs.
As Cameron and Noah work through the uncertainties in their relationship, Noah is offered everything he ever wanted, in a completely different way than he ever expected, leading all four men to discover that sometimes the only way forward is to revisit the past.
Erin McRae and Racheline Maltese are authors of the gay romance series Love in Los Angeles, set in the film and television industry -- Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015) -- from Torquere Press. Their gay romance novella series Love’s Labours, set in the theater world -- Midsummer (May 2015), and Twelfth Night (Fall 2015), is from Dreamspinner Press. They also have a story in Best Gay Romance 2015 from Cleis Press and edited by Felice Picano.
Racheline is a NYC-based performer and storyteller; Erin is a writer and blogger based in Washington, D.C. They write stories and scripts about the intersection of private lives, fame, and desire. You can find them on the web at http://www.Avian30.com.
Social media links:
Joint Blog: http://Avian30.com
Joint Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Erin.and.Racheline
Erin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/erincmcrae
Racheline’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/racheline_m
Erin’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8323893.Erin_McRae
Racheline’s Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1015335.Racheline_Maltese
Erin’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Erin-McRae/e/B00M7A0SVC
Racheline’s Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Racheline-Maltese/e/B001JRVS2C
Torquere Press: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=200&products_id=4373
“Cameron Evan Beck, get your perfect ass in here!”
Cameron turns to follow the voice, so familiar and fond coming from one of the workshop rooms, before he even thinks about it. It’s only as Lou, completely dressed in leathers and holding a bullwhip in his hand, pulls him into a hug in front of what’s clearly a workshop Lou’s leading, that Cam starts to realize just how fucked he is.
“This,” Lou says, introducing him to the room before Cameron can even manage to make a sound, “is Dr. Cameron Beck, professor of queer studies at Boston University. ” There’s only the slightest of dramatic pauses before he adds, “Cameron used to be my boy.”
With that, Lou gives him a wet, smacking kiss on the cheek.
Cameron can’t help but look sheepish. This is not how he wants to be introduced to a room ever, even if reflex and history leave him a little proud.
Lou calls a break with his class and then turns to Cam again. “Are you here with anyone?” he asks quietly, glancing down appraisingly at the leather band on Cameron’s left wrist. He looks good. Lou’s not tall, but he is broad with wide shoulders, a strong chest and more than a bit of a belly. His charisma is as intense as ever, and although the touch of gray now at his temples is startling to Cam it’s also really hot.
“Yeah,” Cameron says, unsure why he doesn’t mention Noah’s name or any of his many places in Cam’s life. Forming sentences seems really hard.
“Good. Me too,” Lou says and tips his head toward a man who must be in his early thirties sitting on the floor in the corner of the room, quietly rebraiding a whip he’s obviously in the process of repairing.
Cameron feels his jaw tense with unavoidable and incredibly stupid jealousy; his fingers were never nimble enough to be really good at that sort of work.
“Are you competing?” Lou asks as if Cameron has actually been keeping up his end of the conversation.
“No,” Cam says. The whole leatherman beauty pageant competition thing may be fun to watch, but it’s never been among his aspirations. “You?”
“Oh no. Enjoying my emeritus position and a lack of annoying travel way too much. ”
“What about him?” Cameron asks, nodding to the guy. Cameron can imagine him competing for one of the bootblack titles. He’s certainly pretty enough, with tan skin and black hair that falls down into his eyes. He’s lanky, and sits kind of folded in on himself, but that’s attractive, too. Lou would certainly have no problem training him into better posture for the competition.
“What about him?” Lou’s voice is gently mocking.
“Is he competing?”
“No. I don’t feel like sharing him yet. At least not like that. Yours?”
Cameron shakes his head and finally realizes just how much he does not want to be having this conversation. He wants to go back to his hotel room, get Noah, go out and sightsee —-- and pretend none of this world has ever been his.
“We should have dinner,” Lou says. “Call me. I’m in room 1024.”