I'm re-reading A Little Queer, especially now that I know it's going to be a trilogy and I don't have to fit EVERYTHING into this one book. Also, I need to see where I'm at to figure out where to go!
I got 31,000 words done before editing started on A Little Weird, so it's about 1/3 or a little more complete already. Anyway! This is the first scene (minus the italics, which I'm just too damn lazy to put back in right now).
If you haven't read A Little Weird, let me know if this gives you enough of an idea of what went on. I need to know if people can pick this book up and jump right in. ;) Also, I must say, I think the opening scenes of both Weird and Queer are blockbusters. :D
The door fell open behind Kel and, since he was leaning on it, sent him staggering through. London followed closely, her breasts pressed against him, her hands fumbling at his belt buckle.
Kel chuckled, tugging at her lean, strong arms. "Not in the pub, London."
Bourbon-colored eyes smiled up at him, filled with a coy sort of wickedness. Red hair framed a lean face with a grin just shy of predatory. "Says who? Pub's closed. You worried about getting caught? That's kind of hot."
His voice was a little more strident this time as she shadowed him in, clearly doing her level best to keep him from regaining his balance. He should know; everything she knew about keeping people off balance she'd learned from him. "London--"
Someone cleared their throat. It was only then that Kel realized the lights in the pub, though dim, weren't out. London and he broke away swiftly, London laughing, Kel mortified. He gripped her upper arm, not trusting her to behave, and whipped around.
Julia, the pub's owner, perched on a barstool, a cocktail close to hand. A small woman with the hungry appearance of a half-starved dog, with brown hair and creases from a life in the sun sat next to her. Kel's mouth dried up.
Which was about when Ty raced in, yelling, "You two better not start without me, after I paid the cab and--"
"Ty," London said quietly.
Ty cut off, pulling up short. At over six feet he was the tallest person in the room, seeming taller still when he straightened up and squared broad, muscular shoulders. One big hand still held the door partially open. After a second, Ty let it go. The overhead lights cast him in half shadow, deepening the hue of his coffee-colored skin.
Julia pushed her glass back with a polite smile. "Wendy here was looking for you. I told her you'd be back, and we could wait for you here. I'll just be going, now." She stood, picking her coat up from the bar stool and heading for the front door and her apartment in the building above them.
"Ah..." Ty drew out the word, glancing toward Kel. Kel just kept staring at Wendy. Ty stepped forward with a smile. He held his hand out. "I'm Ty. This is London, and I guess you know Kel."
Wendy didn't take the offered hand. Kel watched her, frozen in the sinking knowledge of what was about to happen. Knowing -- or suspecting -- didn't make it easier when she recoiled from Ty with a horrified expression. Her blue gaze struck at Kel demandingly. "What is this?" A Southern accent laced her words. "Who -- her, sure, I can see that. But him? Are you really doin' what it looks like ya'll're doin'?"
"Hey..." London frowned, pulling away from Kel and crossed her arms over her chest.
Kel scrambled for an answer. "It's not--" Except it was exactly what she thought. Kel looked at London, slim in her khakis and tank top, the blush of sunburn hidden in the gloom. Ty stood just behind her, and couldn't have been more masculine if he'd been wearing football gear. His jeans were artfully worn, the deep green T-shirt above them stretched taut over pecs and shoulders and biceps. He'd shaved recently, not only his lean jaw and high cheekbones, but the graceful curve of his skull.
They were both looking at him. London looked confused, Ty stung and, in the depths of his eyes, possessive. God, Kel hoped Wendy couldn't see it.
"You guys should go," Kel said quietly.
Ty gave one tiny shake of his head. "You okay?"
He didn't have time for this. The more concerned they were, the more Wendy saw. Wendy was staring at a scratch on the bartop, her face carefully neutral now that she'd restrained her surprise. "I'm fine," Kel said. They were still watching him though, and Ty looked completely unconvinced. "This is Wendy," Kel repeated. He heard the words and winced. Wendy snorted a laugh at his expense. He bulled onward. "My sister."
Wendy looked at them archly, in a way she'd always been able to do. She clearly hadn't lost it, even though she wore ragged jeans a size too big and a shirt with frayed hems.
Ty hesitated a moment more. "Call us tomorrow?"
With a hand in the small of London's back, Ty steered them both toward the door. London was asking questions even before it was closed, sounding baffled.
Kel walked to it, watching them out the window as Ty pulled out a cell phone. Likely calling a cab. Kel stayed where he could see them: this wasn't the safest area.
"Well," Wendy said. It was a statement in itself. She scratched at the bartop again, not as if she were stalling, but more like she was too angry to speak.
She looked at him, and the disgust was worse than he'd expected. "You wanna explain this?"
He opened his mouth to snap back at her, then stopped. He closed his mouth and his eyes both, breathing deeply and letting it out. "What do you want? This ain't a social call, I assume."
She glared at him. Her gaze raked him, head to toe. "Doin' well for y'self, I see. Got a job in this pub. Nice little apartment in back. A sugar mama and daddy to keep you in pretty clothes."
He flushed. "God damn it, Wendy, it ain't like that!"
She stood, primed for battle. Outside, a cab pulled up. London glanced back, and for a moment her gaze met Kel's. He broke it, half afraid she'd heard what Wendy had said, and walked away from the windows.
"What is like then, Kel?" Wendy snapped. "God, I can't believe--" She stopped, clamping a hand over her mouth as if he were the only way to restrain the words. She paced away, then turned back, both hands resting on her hips. "We knew you should've come home. You've been away too long, and this city -- this filthy city -- has corrupted you. Sleeping with a man is unnatural. Sleeping with both of them--"
He cut across her words. "What do you want, Wendy?"
She glared at him, then huffed a bitter laugh. "You know what? I'll leave it alone. I came here for help, Kel. I guess beggars can't be choosers, huh? So I'll just leave it alone."
He shouldn't have felt relieved, but he did.
"We need money."
It was like a blow. Not because they needed money -- he knew that -- but because they had nearly every penny he made. They'd had it since he'd joined the military at eighteen. He stared at her. "I don't have any more."
Wendy went on as if he hadn't spoken. "Mama's hospital bills are wracking up, and Samantha's kids cost a small fortune."
Kel frowned. "Why hasn't Samantha said anything?" She'd always been the more responsible of his sisters. Their mother had moved in with her and her husband a few years earlier, and though he wasn't in regular contact with her, she generally told him if anything big changed.
Wendy wouldn't meet his gaze. "She's probably been busy. And there's debt, Kel. I've got--"
He rocked back on his heels. "This isn't about Samantha or Mama," he said slowly. "This is about you."
He knew he was right when she flushed. Wendy never had been able to keep her expression under wraps. "Damn you!" she yelled, temper flashing. "I need money, Kel, and I know you've got some sort of pension or something! Don't family mean anything to you? Or did you forget about that when you became a fag?"
Kel watched her with a strange sort of detatchment. Their father had been like this. Bigger, though. And Kel had been smaller, then. The alcohol hadn't helped. "Drink or drugs?" he asked bitterly.
"Is it drink or drugs you've got yourself into? I ain't helping you buy either one. My pension and my paycheck go to Samantha. I don't have anymore money, Wendy, and if I did I wouldn't give it to you."
She pulled back as if struck. "You are such a son of a bitch. You ruined everything when you chased Daddy out of the house. At least in the God-damned military you were useful. But you ruined that, too. What was so wrong you had to quit and leave us all poor? You felt bad?"
He couldn't take much more of it. He was bleeding inside, lashed by words that only family could make hurt so much. "Get out."
"You think Sammie and Levi are going to want you around their kids, teaching 'em all that queer stuff now?"
"Get out." He started toward her, and was sickened when she paled and backed up swiftly.
Tears welled in her eyes, tears of anger and impotent rage. He wondered if she was in withdrawal. "I hate you, Kel! Why won't you just help?"
That stopped him. He swallowed hard. For all her awful words, she was still his baby sister. And she was right: he'd driven their father out. Resigned them all to live poor. Their father had never hurt the rest of them. Nothing would ever be enough.
He pulled out his wallet and opened it, frowning inside. He didn't often carry cash, but today there was nearly forty dollars. He pulled it all out and handed it to her. "It's what I have. I'm sorry, Wendy." He was, mixed in with the anger and hurt.
She snatched it out of his hand and whirled toward the door. "Don't bother coming home," she said, standing in the alcove. "Not unless you're willing to do it without them."
Then she stepped out, closing the door behind her.
He watched her through the windows. He wanted to walk away, but instead stepped closer, keeping her in sight until she'd made it as far as the bus stop. She perched on a bench, huddled against the fog that rolled in over the city every night. Cursing himself, Kel pulled out the cell phone Ty and London had bought him months ago, dialing a taxi. He gave the company his credit card number -- the only one he owned -- and told them to come get her. Take her wherever she wanted to go.
He watched her through the window until the cab arrived. Then he turned away and went in search of whiskey.