My short story McAvoy Made is part of Hot Off the Press, a Dreamspinner Press Anthology, which debuts Nov. 10. I had a blast writing this and fell in love with my main characters. I hope you fall for them too. Preston and Duvall are two very different men stuck in ruts of their own creation. They’ve become comfortable, complacent in their behavior, and it takes coming together to shake up their lives and brighten their futures. Preston has blinders on, focused so closely on a project honoring his sister that he’s given up living for himself, while Duvall runs through men at an insatiable pace, never pausing long enough to truly connect.
Here’s is an excerpt of Duvall watching Preston from afar:
In the cavernous lunchroom of Minder Programming and Technology, Duvall absently nibbled at his danish and pretended to read Out Magazine on his iPad, while stealing glances at the cutie sitting by the wall of windows. Ignoring the view of the courtyard, the guy sat alone—always alone—at the same small round table every day. He never ate during his lunch hour but did manage the occasional juice box as he scribbled away at something.
Ever since catching sight of him three weeks ago, Duvall had been watching, trying to figure out what he was doing. The new guy’s looks were adequately alluring, to be sure: blond hair, shaved on the sides but long and floppy on top, a fit, lean build, nice shoulders, frameless glasses, pretty face. Duvall hadn’t seen the color of his eyes yet, and he was hoping for blue or green, but it was the project the stranger worked on so diligently that piqued Duvall’s curiosity.
Some employees of MP&T worked at their desks right through their breaks. Some went for walks in the park or stepped out for a smoke or ran errands. This guy sat in the lunchroom fiddling with colored paper and ink. It certainly didn’t appear to be something related to the company.
The sheer size of MP&T made it impossible to know every employee or even most. The guy had to be a new hire because he wasn’t on the employee page on their website. Duvall had checked. There were a couple of bios without pictures that were added last month, showing only faceless pale blue silhouettes where a mug shot should be. Maybe this guy was one of them.
Duvall sipped his coffee and watched the guy dip a pen in a small jar of ink, then write on some rough-looking gray-blue paper. He hadn’t figured out what the man did for MP&T, but if he had to guess, Duvall would choose accountant. The guy looked to be in his late twenties or early thirties, and he wore a suit. Only MP&T department heads (like himself), administrators, and accountants wore suits. The techies who worked beneath Duvall tried to stay hip and irreverent by wearing jeans, T-shirts, and sneakers—or antennae and bunny slippers, as evidenced by Leslie Ngo-Jacobs on the third floor.
“You didn’t wait for me,” Mug Jacobs complained as he dropped into the seat across from him. He was one of those ponytail-wearing straight boys with hair thinning on top, a somewhat reformed hippie, and Duvall’s best friend since grade school. Married to the aforementioned Leslie, he was a surprising choice for administrative assistant to MP&T’s president, but somehow it worked, that mash-up of ex-hippie with tailored suits and mani-pedis.
“Oh, uh… sorry—hey, wait a minute. You were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago.”
Mug grinned and stirred his soup. “Too late, you already apologized.”
Duvall smiled and went back to watching his stranger.
“Ask me how our vacation was,” Mug said.
“How was your vacation?” Duvall never took his eyes from his target.
“Try to sound a bit more interested…. What are you staring at?”
“You know him?”
“There, in front of the windows overlooking the courtyard.” He pointed. “Little blond guy.”
Mug adjusted his glasses and squinted in that direction. “He wasn’t here when I left.”
Duvall turned to him. “You don’t know everyone in this complex.”
“No, you don’t know everyone in this complex. I make it my business, dear.” Mug shook his bottle of tea, popped the top, and took a swig. “He’s cute. I’ll give you that,” he said over the racket of removing the wax paper from his sandwich.
“Yes, yes he is.” Duvall smiled.
“Oh, I get it.”
“You’ve run through all the hot gay guys in the complex, even some of the ‘straight’ ones, so blondie over there is just the new meat.”
Duvall snorted but didn’t deny his friend’s assessment. It was accurate. He had been a busy bad boy, and a new game piece on the board was tantalizing.
There. Hope you enjoyed that, just a bit from one story out of the sixteen in this collection. Hot Off the Press debuts November 10.
Have a great week, people!