CRICKET and BISCUITS – OUT NOW!

CricketBiscuits

 

“I have a question for you sir, is time travel possible?” 
These were the memorable, often-quoted words from the romantic time travel movie, Somewhere in Time. They have prompted conversation, observations, essays, entire weekends devoted to the idea (yes, there are Somewhere in Time weekends, people!) and for me, they were the inspiration behind my new book, Cricket and Biscuits, one of five stories in the new Amber PAX™ Reeling Through the Years Collection.
When I signed up for this particular PAX I was so excited. I love time travel as a subject and have obsessed on it since I saw the movie Brigadoon as a kid. I loved that dancer Gene Kelly magically goes back in time to a Scottish town that only appears once every hundred years for a single day. I fretted as I watched it. How would Gene find the town again and the woman he’d fallen in love with if he returned to his daily life?
Even as a young girl I was a dreamer, a romantic, and I always wanted a happy ending. As time went on and I saw more time travel movies, some of them were scary and had a devastating impact. Remember the amazing Time After Time, in which H.G. Wells (who wrote the definitive time travel novel, The Time Machine, follows Jack the Ripper to modern-day New York City?
Jack was played by one of my favorite actors, the truly great David Warner, and in one scene Wells tries to convince him to return to the past asking if he realizes he’s out of time in the big apple. Jack scoffs at the suggestion, indicating the violence he sees all over the TV in his hotel room. “We don’t belong here? On the contrary, Herbert. I belong here completely and utterly. I’m home.”
Chilling stuff.
Midnight in Paris restored my faith in the utter romance of the genre. I loved that movie. Though I enjoyed the equally romantic Leopold and Kate, it was missing something for me. With Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen tapped into everything I cherish about the idea of time travel. Who among us wouldn’t love the chance to go back and visit with someone they love?
For me, I’d love to go back and see my mum though I don’t recall a time she wasn’t sick in bed, riddled with cancer. I wouldn’t want to see her suffering again because it still hurts my heart, but I’d give anything to hug her and kiss her and just be with her. I never got the chance as a child. She was so ill and never wanted me or my brothers to see her the way she was. She died in a Sydney hospital when I was six. I never got to say goodbye to her.
I’ve visited the subject of time travel in some of my books, including Out of TimeBalthazar Starblitz and some of Phantom LoverWaikiki WizardChildren of the Rainbow, and Waikiki Vampire stories.
I have always wondered, and asked many friends, “If you could travel back in time, would you?”
What if you can’t change the past?
What, however, if you could?
I am so in love with the idea of going back that I took inspiration from the lovely, hauntingSomewhere in Time, playing the soundtrack constantly as I wrote Cricket and Biscuits. I have always loved the idea that love outshines and outlasts everything. Even death. I am reminded often as I write, of a wonderful line from Brigadoon when the old man tells Gene Kelly,
“I told ye, if you love someone deeply enough, anything is possible … even miracles.”
I hope you check out Cricket and Biscuits and the other fine offerings in this collection of heartfelt stories. Don’t forget to leave a comment for the chance to win all five!
Cricket and Biscuits by A.J. Llewellyn: http://www.amberquill.com/store/p/2207-Cricket-And-Biscuits.aspx
Dance choreographer Michael Makris has the chance to go back in time to find his recently deceased husband, John. Encountering his lost love is magical and romantic, but Michael soon bounces back to the last place he wants to be—the present.
 
Clementime, the gifted witch who sent him back to the moment he first met his husband, tells Michael that John wants him to move forward, without him. Clementime also cryptically reports that John said, “Life isn’t all cricket and biscuits.”
 
But can Michael give up the love of his life, or will he find a way to go back and fight for it?
Genres: Gay, Contemporary / Time Travel / Paranormal / The Arts / Mystery
Heat Level: 3
Length: Novella (25k words)
Excerpt:
…“Michael, are you sure you want to do this?”
“Yes,” I said. “I’m very sure.” Six weeks I’d waited, and the stress and tension had almost killed me. I’d only discussed my plan with one person, my best friend, Howie. He was the one who’d told me about the witch in the first place.
My hands were still shaking, so I slid them beneath my thighs, sitting on them atop Clementime’s red velvet sofa. That thing was not as comfy as it looked. I tried not to stare at her bric-a-brac, or wonder about cooties on the sofa. Her place looked so normal outside. Like every other small beach cottage on Superba Avenue in Venice. Inside, it resembled the kind of jumble sale I’d seen on desperate people’s front lawns. The unmistakable stench of eau-de-cat-piss invaded the cramped space, but I saw no kitties in sight. In a gloomy corner over her left shoulder, I spotted a tree-shaped plant stand and felt a shiver of alarm. All the plants were dead.
Don’t look at them. Don’t think about it. You can’t back out now.
“I know you’re the one who can help me,” I said, as her lovely, almond-shaped green eyes seemed to bore into my soul. Howie said she had a massive ego, and I’d been stroking it ever since I first made contact with her.
Howie had a friend who’d been to Clementime and had experienced her promises of time travel. She had wanted to connect with her mom who’d died and was very happy with the results, according to Howie.
Clementime said nothing for a moment. I still couldn’t get over the whimsical aspect to her name and wondered if she’d changed it from “Clementine” to “Clementime,” but she always got mad when I asked too many questions. I held my breath, worried that she was going to send me away. After all, she’d been difficult to get hold of, and even harder to pin down to an appointment. She’d asked me to think about it, pointing out certain dangers in going back in time.
“You might not cope with what you find out,” she’d said on the phone. “Once you go into the past, I can’t bring you back to the present, unless you and I happen to connect and we repeat the process.”
“Is that likely?” I asked. “That I run into you in another place and time?”
“Oh, yes.” She’d sort of chuckled. “You and I have danced together before, Michael.”
I had no idea what that meant, exactly. I knew I wasn’t much of a dancer in this life. I suspected she wasn’t referring to actual dancing, but didn’t care. I wanted to be with the man I loved. Going on without him was no longer an option.
My soul was in torment. “I don’t care where I am in time, as long as I’m with him.” I fidgeted on the sofa, recalling our earlier chat. Having accepted me as a client, Clementime spent an awful lot of time trying to dissuade me from taking the plunge. I kept thinking about the movie Kate and Leopold. I got goose bumps every time I thought about the moment Leopold told Kate’s brother, “I am the man who loves your sister.”
John loved me like that. He really did. If he had survived me and could have found a way to go back in time so we could begin again, he would. I was sure of that. But since he was gone and I was here, and I could do it, I went for it.
“Oh,” Clementime had said when I told her what I wanted. “Going back in time is easy peasy for me, when the other person is alive. It’s a little trickier when they’re dead…”

*_*_*

Cricket and Biscuits by A.J. Llewellyn is now available at Amber Allure.

To see/purchase the entire pax collection click here!

The 12th of Never – FREE BLOG STORY!! Chapter 8

12th of Never

 

The 12th of Never by A.J. Llewellyn

Cover Art: Sara York

Link to chapters 1-7: http://www.ajllewellyn.com/site/2014/07/10/2260/

 

Chapter 8

“Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.”

-          Photographer Diane Arbus

Johnny hurried to visit a distraught and feverish Julia in the Staro-Ekaterininskii Hospital with Argo, the strongman, who initially hailed from Russia but now lived in England, and Rosalia Griffray, the circus fat lady, who was very nice, but spoke only Spanish and Portuguese. They were accompanied by Mr. T.A. Naumann, the show’s one-legged castanet player, who didn’t seem to speak any language but clapped his ever-present castanets in his hands. A lot.

Julia had been to the hospital by horse and cart, but he and Argo had trouble finding anyone they could speak to. It took Johnny several long minutes to realize he was in Moscow, Russia, and if memory served him right, Julia would soon give birth to a baby boy who would die within two days. She herself would die within a couple of days of losing her baby. Her husband would then embalm her and her child and prop them up in a glass cabinet and ferry them around the world as dead circus freaks.

It would take a century and a half for a kind woman in Julia’s native Mexico to fight for the poor woman’s disintegrating remains to be removed from public display/ridicule and given a proper burial.

Johnny April hoped to change all that and prevent her death, but he was allowed nowhere near her and the complicated birth resulted in her baby’s death.

Why am I going back in time if I can’t do anything to alter the course of history?

A few more of Julia’s fellow circus friends showed up at the hospital, some of them sporting red-rimmed eyes as they sat beside Johnny, all of them outcasts. He was surprised when Argo, the strongman, bawled like a little kid when news came from a kindly nurse that Julia had developed a strange fever and was unconscious.

“I’ll give you any news I can,” she told Argo and the only other Russian-speaking performer,  Vladimir the half-man, half-leopard who really didn’t look like one without all the smoke and mirrors of a circus show. He just looked like a guy with a bad hair problem who kept one side of his body smooth and the other in its natural state. He walked with a large cat’s grace though. Vladimir translated to the others huddled on the lonely bench in the waiting room. It was strange to see a Moscow hospital way back in the day with candle-lit sconces on the walls and a strange smell of something earthy on the air.

Johnny and the others sat, isolated in the chilly waiting room.

I think I’ve always been an outcast. Just like Argo and the others. Where is Mike? Johnny’s head hurt and he was certain he could feel a tender spot on the back of his head. Not touching it stopped him from descending into complete and utter panic.

“Let’s get some food,” Argo said, nudging Johnny in the ribs. Argo didn’t know his own strength and sent Johnny scuttling to the floor. His head hit the wall and it was the last thing Johnny remembered…

****

When Johnny awoke, he was starving and when he slowly looked around, he wasn’t in Moscow, he was in a bed. A nice, warm bed, in the sun. Relief washed over him like a tidal wave. He was in Mike’s bed in Ventura. Man, what a wild dream he’d been having. He reached out for Mike, but the space beside him was empty. The sun baked the white sheets, making the throb in Johnny’s head a bit worse. He craved the warmth, and the light, but he felt like shit.

“Ah, you’re awake,” a voice said, an amused lilt to it. Johnny tilted his head and looked to the foot of the bed.

“Mike,” he croaked.

Mike looked instantly concerned. “I have no idea what the hell you did to yourself, but something or someone caved I the back of your head. You have seventeen stitches and you’ve been asleep for a day and a half.”

“Sorry,” was all Johnny could think of in response.

“Don’t apologize. Do you remember anything that happened?” Mike leaned over to him, brushing a hair from Johnny’s eyes. He couldn’t remember anyone being so tender with him, ever. Then he remembered Julia Pastrana and her lonely life. She was far from him now. Far from life, from pain. She had been given a proper burial finally. He wanted to visit her, to honor her.

I wish I could have saved her.

“What do you remember?” Mike prompted again.

“Not much.” I remember sitting with the one-legged castanet player, and Argo the strongman, and the fat lady. Now what was her name again? Rosalia! We waited for news. People call them freaks but they were the kindest I’ve ever met. Apart from you. “I dreamed of you,” he said.

Mike smiled. “Are you hungry?”

Johnny hesitated. Admitting to hunger had brought him nothing but pain and humiliation all his life, but he could no longer stand the pain he was in. He needed to eat. When was his last meal? The coffee and toast he’d swallowed the morning all of this weirdness started seemed like months ago.

“Yeah,” he said, finally. “Very.”

“Good. Because it’s Valentine’s Day.” Mike reached across the bed to the bureau beside it and retrieved a takeout menu from it. Johnny had seen enough of them billowing across the beaches he’d visited over the years. Strangers left them, but the April family never spent money on things like takeout.

Suddenly he was hungrier than ever.

“I thought we’d order Chinese, watch a couple of movies I downloaded from Netflix and” —Mike’s expression turned impish—“make love for the rest of the day.

Johnny’s breath caught in his throat. He’d never spent a day doing any of these things and he wished and hoped and prayed God wouldn’t interrupt this dream or whatever it was and whisk him away before it all happened.

“Sounds like a plan,” he said, sounding confident and excited, surprising them both.

Mike gave him a lopsided grin. “You want to take a look?” He passed the menu over.

“Nope. I trust you.”

“Awesome. I’ll be right back.”

Johnny dozed, the pain ebbing and flowing. He would drift off, then a sharp stab of pain would awaken him. A naked Mike paced the hallway outside the bedroom ordering what sounded like a mountain of food. Johnny began to drool at the notion of honey walnut shrimp, beef with black bean sauce, fragrant chicken and vegetables. He wondered what that was and why it had to be called fragrant.  Mike sat beside him on the bed, flicking around channels with his remote.

“I thought we’d watch Shelter,” he said as Johnny huddled closer and put his head in Mike’s lap. Mike stroked Johnny’s face and shoulders, invoking both peace and a pang of carnal thrill through Johnny’s body. “You said you dreamed about me.” Mike muted the TV. “”What did you dream?”

Johnny didn’t want to tell him. How could he say, “We were circus freaks together.” He couldn’t. Just couldn’t. Nothing could spoil the mood.

“I don’t remember. My head hurts really bad. But you were there and you made me feel better.”

“Aw.” Mike squeezed his shoulder. “You wanna cup of coffee?”

“Yes, please.” Johnny’s whole body tingled with pleasure as mike stroked his back, letting his fingers linger along Johnny’s butt crack. How did I get naked? The thought tumbled around his head like loose change. He fell asleep somehow, waking up again to Mike coming to the bed with a laden tray.

“Sorry it took so long. I have to call the restaurant twice.”

“You did? How long has it been?”

“An hour. You keep falling asleep.” Mike gave him a gentle smile and put the tray on the bed. He then tossed some pillows from the closet against the headboard and as Johnny sat up, he handed him a cup of coffee. Johnny noticed the aspirin bottle and shook out a couple of pills into his hand and gulped them.

Mike seemed to enjoy watching Johnny pick up each takeout carton and inhaling the fragrance of each dish. With each passing the second the creepy smell of the Russian hospital receded. Johnny learned that fragrant vegetables were prepared with a pungent mix of spices; cumin, red pepper, and ginger. He helped himself to a little of everything, savoring each bite as though it were his last.

“You eat like you’ve never eaten Chinese food before,” Mike remarked, plucking at a piece of shrimp from his own plate.

“I haven’t.” Johnny shrugged.

Mike stared at him, incredulous. “Are you kidding?”

“Oh, Mike. I never joke about food.” He pointed at one of the cartons with his fork. Johnny wasn’t talented with chopsticks. He was barely adequate with a fork. “I don’t know what I want first, you or one of these cool-looking toasties.”

Mike laughed. “Those are appetizers and they’re good. They have shrimp in them.”

“I’ll compromise then. One of these and then I want you.”

Mike seemed so happy. He bounced off the bed as Johnny chewed the billowy fried pocket of deliciousness and moved the tray to the floor.

Johnny was still hungry and licked his fork as Mike wrestled it from his fingers.

“Let me,” Mike said. He knelt on the bed beside Johnny and gave him the kind of toe curling kiss that almost made Johnny come…Mike put his hand to Johnny’s cock and grabbed it, sucking it into his mouth. Mike was still kneeling when Johnny moved to lie across the bed and give Mike an oral workout he would not forget in a hurry. Mike groaned when Johnny squeezed his balls with his left hand, using them as leverage to get him into his mouth. They bounced against Johnny’s chin. He came hard and fast, grabbing Mike’s head as his cock erupted down Mike’s throat.

Mike took everything Johnny had to give him. Mike seemed reluctant to release Johnny from his hot, wet lips.

Johnny took Mike’s face in his hands and kissed him. Their kisses intensified, hot, and thirsty passion. “My turn,” Johnny whispered into Mike’s mouth. “Give me that ass. It’s mine.”

Mike’s brows shot up. Yeah, Johnny was surprised too. He’d never been this aggressive. Mike seemed turned on, judging by his raging erection and lay back, opening his legs wider as Johnny went berserk licking and kissing his chest. His tongue reached Mike’s sacred space between balls and cock and went wild. He loved the way Mike flailed around the bed…

“Oh suck my ass, Johnny,” he implored. “Suck me hard, baby.”

Johnny took his time, enjoying the sounds Mike made as Johnny sucked and licked him…fuck he tasted good and hot. Mike’s feet bounced on Johnny’s shoulders and Johnny held his ass in his hands…afraid he would come before Johnny could get what he wanted. Too late. Mike erupted in a searing tide, wave after wave of pleasure coursing through them both. Johnny had never experienced anything so dramatic and so damned exciting. He released Mike’s cock with a pop and looked up.

Holy crap. Johnny was no longer on the bed with Mike. He was in a hospital bed strapped down, a piece of wood in his mouth. Johnny screamed, but it was a long silent one. A dark shadow fell over his face. Johnny looked up, tears blurring his vision.

Oh, God no. Not him. Of all people…

 

 

 

The Write Way

writinglife

I am blogging today at Totally Bound’s author blog…http://www.totallyboundpublishing.com/?p=5659

In case you missed it or you wanna stick around here (and why not??!!) here is what I wrote:

 

By A.J. Llewellyn

Being a writer is a funny thing. I write to live, and I do live to write. I can’t say I have taken my passion for the craft for granted, but it’s second nature to me. It’s what I’ve always done since I was about seven years old. It has been my refuge. My sanctuary. My income. My life.

I’ve come to rely on it in ways I can’t explain to friends who don’t write. As I get older I look back on memorable moments in my life, such as the time I was working nights for Cellar Masters, a now-defunct company that sold wine through TV ads. Gone are the days when booze was promoted on the telly! I was one of many phone operators working with a headset and computer. The hours were dreadful (10pm – 2am) but the pay was great. For a struggling writer it was perfect. I worked in a room with other writers, out of work actors, out of work…everything. But anyway, my brother and his wife had just married and they were saving to buy a house. I recommended the job to them and my supervisor, who enjoyed my serious work ethic was keen to take them on, but there was just one small problem.

Neither of them could type!

I’d been typing since I was seven years old and didn’t think about the fact that some people might not know how to do it. I got my first typewriter at the age of 10 from my dad at Christmas. Before then I typed on his secretary’s massive desktop monster. She taught me how to use it and for me, it was instant and amazing true love. I used to go to my dad’s office after school and wait for him to take me home. My brothers raced around the place playing pirates, but I was busy writing stories. Silly stories, but I wrote them. It was a thrill for me.

Then he got me my own typewriter, a portable Olivetti I still own. It’s traveled the world with me. It became my best friend and I drove my dad nuts with my constant tap-tap-tap-Ping!

That was before he shunted me off to the US to live with relatives. Some parents have kids who drive them crazy with drumming. Other parents back when I was a kid had children who typed. Typewriters were noisy in those days!

But still to this day I miss that lovely Ping! at the end of a sentence…

I came to the US with my grandma a week after Christmas. She transported me from our home in Sydney to live with cousins in Northern California. We made two stops on the way. The first was to Disneyland. I’m not sure who was more excited – me or grandma. She burst into tears at the sight of The Happiest Place on Earth. I burst into tears much later when she wouldn’t let me go on anything more violent than Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

We made another detour to Las Vegas. I had an uncle who lived in Sin City (at a time when locals weren’t allowed to gamble) and he was my grandma’s nephew. We went by bus and I recall being on that damned thing for ever. I think she thought he’d give her piles of coins he won at the tables or something. I have no idea what she thought, but it was a disastrous visit because she’d booked our hotel room via some lunatic travel agent in Sydney and we wound up in a disgusting pit of a place off the strip. She refused to spend another time and relocate us. My uncle sprang for a room for the night at The Sands. To me it was more amazing than Disneyland. It is of course long gone, but back then, The Sands was the hottest hotel and I don’t mean the desert temperatures. It was classy and shiny and sparkly.

And they let me use their typewriter.

Being ten I wasn’t allowed in the casino, so while my grandma played what my dad always called the one-armed bandit (a poker machine), I sat in the booking office of The Sands and typed. For hours. It was the first time in my life that I wasn’t told to stop typing because it was late, or because there was school. Or because I should go outside and play. Or because… Because…because…because.

I typed until I felt like stopping and experienced a wondrous sense of peace afterward. I am embarrassed to reveal I’d spent all my time writing a love letter to the actor Richard Chamberlain (!) who owned my heart in those days, but even then I had a romantic’s heart. I guess I was getting ready to be a romance writer because I could see him in my mind, kissing me, hugging me…

I guess it was a sign of things to come. A writer writes. It’s what I do. And will always do.

Because…because…because.

Aloha oe,

A.J.

« Previous PageNext Page »