Hi there! My name is Eon de Beaumont and I’ve written my very first contemporary story for Dreamspinner Press. This post is part of a promotional blog tour I’m undertaking to celebrate the release of Rum & Ginger, The Connection: Book One. The story is very character oriented so I’m going to introduce you to each of the major characters in each of these blog posts and give you some background about how they fit in the world and how I came up with them. On to the post.
Chance Henry is the main character, Ben Silver’s, boyfriend. They’d gone to high school together but were never really friends. Where Ben was athletic and outgoing, Chance was bookish and solitary. Chance was also living with a secret, terrified of his overbearing father. Chance was gay. He and Ben found each other again in college and realized they had much more in common than they could have guessed. When they finished college, Chance with an IT degree and Ben with a degree in bar/restaurant management, they moved into Chance’s grandmother’s house. Chance and Ben maintain the façade of being just roommates for their families. Chance knows Ben isn’t happy about this but his fear of his father leaves him with no choice.
I knew a lot of guys like Chance in high school. They lived in the shadow of their parents’ expectations and they were miserable. Chance’s hang-ups are starting to take their toll on his relationship with Ben and when Ben finds out Chance has been working on a secret project, it only exacerbates things further. I thinks deep down Chance is a good guy and has the courage buried somewhere to stand up to the ideal he’s built for his parents but there are definitely some snags in the way. To find out what those are, you’re going to have to check out Rum & Ginger. I hope you like Chance because I have some plans for him, but you’ll have to wait and see about those.
The blurb I’m including here isn’t Chance’s intro scene but one that illustrates where Ben and Chance are at as a couple. Look for the blog post in which we discuss Ben elsewhere. You can connect with me on Facebook or follow my Twitter: @mascaraboy13 for updates and announcements. I hope you enjoy the excerpt and if you’re interested, there’s a buy link following. Thanks!
Ben Silver’s personal dream is to open the first gay bar in Liamsport, Pennsylvania. The town isn’t exactly open-minded, but that’s not why Ben stays in the closet. Chance, Ben’s computer nerd boyfriend, is deathly afraid of anyone finding out he’s gay. On a night out, Ben meets Brodie Felix, a younger, heavily tattooed bartender who lights a spark in Ben’s heart. Although the spark in his relationship with Chance has dwindled to almost nothing, Ben feels guilty for wanting to be single, for wanting another man, so he tries to forget about Brodie.
But when Ben discovers one of Chance’s own secrets, he’s forced to make a difficult choice.
On his own for the first time in his life, Ben can be open with his family and friends. Though honesty has its benefits, his life isn’t perfect. Ben’s circle of friends and family is growing. So is the spark between him and Brodie, and Ben hopes it will grow into a flame. His dream remains out of his grasp, but with a little help and a lot of work, he might yet serve his favorite rum and ginger ale at his own establishment, the first gay bar in his hometown.
Earlier Ben had run over to the liquor store on his lunch to get a couple of bottles of wine for his evening in with Chance. He whistled the theme song to Sanford and Son as he skipped up the steps. “Chance? Love?” he called as he stepped through the door. “I’m home.” Chance didn’t answer, but that wasn’t out of the ordinary. Ben could hear the WoW music drifting from Chance’s “gaming station.” He had a tricked-out desktop he’d specifically designed to run his MMORPGs—extra memory, surround sound, and a high-definition monitor. His desk was ergonomically designed so he could sit in front of it for hours and not get fatigued. He’d even bought a gaming chair that was a supercomfortable replica of Picard’s captain’s chair from Star Trek: TNG. Ben sat in it sometimes when Chance wasn’t home and said things like, “Make it so.”
Ben had to admit, Chance’s Patrick Stewart impression was far superior to his own. The thought of Chance reciting dialogue from the show made Ben smile. It was one of the things they’d originally bonded over. They’d only been dating for a week when Ben walked in on Chance and another guy arguing over who was the better captain, Picard or Kirk. Ben had loved Kirk when he was a little kid, but he had to take Chance’s side; Picard was a much more well-rounded character. And Patrick Stewart was sexier at sixty than Shatner had been at thirty-something. They’d made out like crazy that night as they watched Chance’s season-one DVDs.
Ben started to get excited at the memories. That had been a new and interesting time for them both. He took the wine to the kitchen before he ventured into the office-slash-game room. To Ben’s utter dismay, Chance’s head was tipped on the back of the chair, his mouth open while his Night Elf Rogue walked endlessly into the corner of a tavern. Ben considered saving Chance’s game and signing him off but thought better of it. If he’d just completed some monumental quest and Ben didn’t save it correctly—well, he didn’t want to think about that. Instead Ben shook Chance lightly. He received no response. He shook a little harder.
“Who did?” Chance gasped as he woke.
“What?” Ben asked, amused.
“What?” Chance echoed.
“Who did what?” Ben asked.
Chance rubbed his eyes under his glasses. “I don’t know. I must have fallen asleep.”
Ben bent down and kissed Chance on the top of his head. “I got wine. Feel like hanging out? We could watch some Next Generation.”
Chance’s fingers danced over the keys and mouse. He yawned. “TNG? Why do you want to watch that?”
“I was just thinking about that time you were having that argument with that dude in the dorm commons.”
“Carter. Dick,” Chance said as he pushed his glasses up. “He’d argue that fucking George Lazenby was a better Bond than Sean Connery. Or Raul Julia was a better Gomez than actual-fucking-Gomez.”
“John Astin.” Ben loved it a little when Chance ranted. He thought it was pretty cute.
“What?” Chance snapped.
“The original Gomez Addams was John Astin.”
“I know that. I’m not some social retard.”
“He also played Harry’s dad on Night Court.” Ben knew it wasn’t actually Harry’s dad but wanted to see if Chance would take the bait.
“Buddy was his step-dad,” he stated dismissively. “Christ, Ben. You know that. Next you’re going to pretend he didn’t fill in as the Riddler when Frank Gorshin left in the second season of the old Batman TV show.”
“I wouldn’t do that.” Ben watched as Chance closed his WoW window. “That would be like pretending he wasn’t the Judge in The Frighteners.”
Chance’s hand froze. “The what?”
Ben smiled, pleased with himself. Chance had a vast knowledge of obscure movie trivia but not nearly as vast as Ben’s, especially when it came to horror-comedies of the nineties. “The Frighteners. With Michael J. Fox. Directed by your boy, Peter Jackson.”
Chance turned in his captain’s chair. “How have I never seen this?”
“Jake Busey is in it too.”
“What?” Chance stood as his computer shut down. “Do you have it?”
“Maybe on VHS. You’d rather watch that than Next Generation?”
“Do you want to dig the VCR out?” Chance asked, walking to the kitchen.
Ben considered that. It had been so long since they’d used the antique piece of crap, he wasn’t even sure where it was. The last time they’d dug it out was to show Lena the old Tick cartoon. “I’m not sure where it is,” Ben answered.
“That’s fine,” Chance stated, pouring himself some water. “We can watch TNG.” He drank as though he hadn’t had a drop in days. “Which season?”
“You pick,” Ben offered. He pulled open a few drawers before he found the corkscrew and set to opening the wine. Chance made a giddy little sound and bounded off to the DVD rack. Ben had purchased a Pinot Noir from Oregon and a Cabernet from Napa. Chance liked lighter reds, and Ben opened the Pinot first. By the time they finished it, Chance wouldn’t mind the bigger red, which Ben preferred. He uncorked the bottle, retrieved two glasses, and poured the light ruby liquid. He could hear the Star Trek theme as he picked up the glasses. Patrick Stewart was telling them about the voyages of the starship Enterprise and its continuing mission as Ben took his place on the couch next to Chance. Ben handed him a glass.
He took a sip. “Mm. Oregon Pinot?” Chance placed his glass on the coffee table.
“Willamette Valley Vineyards. Nothing special.” Ben sipped at his own wine, tasting the tart cherry, the hint of spice.
“Still good.” Chance settled in, cozying up to Ben’s side.
“This is the nanite episode,” Ben said, gesturing with his wine glass.
“Season three. ‘Evolution’,” Chance offered. He reached out, retrieved his glass, and sipped his wine as the crew of the Enterprise went about their business. When Chance placed his glass back on the table, so did Ben. He could hear Chance mumbling the dialogue as the characters spoke. So cute, Ben thought. He pressed his lips to Chance’s temple, savoring the shampoo smell of the other man’s hair. Head & Shoulders, the same he’d used since they’d started dating. Chance reached up and pulled Ben into a kiss. Their lips touched, and Ben was pleased to finally get some contact, some attention from Chance. Ben pressed forward, and Chance balled Ben’s shirt in his fist.
Too soon, Chance broke the contact to recite a line of dialogue that particularly pleased him. Ben smiled reluctantly, the moment shattered. He reached for his wine, taking rather more than a sip. Chance picked up his own glass, drank, and returned it. Ben rolled his eyes. He hugged Chance closer, hoping his lover would get the hint. Chance leaned into the embrace, resting his head in the crook of Ben’s neck. Ben smiled as he sipped his wine once more. He leaned his head over onto Chance’s hair, contentment drifting through his limbs.
Ben pressed his lips to Chance’s brow, savoring the warmth of the skin. “Oh, Chance,” Ben whispered. “You’re so delightful.”
Chance responded by leaning closer to Ben and making a satisfied noise. Ben took it as a good sign and leaned in to kiss his lover once more. This time the affection wasn’t returned. Chance’s mouth remained slack, his eyes closed. Ben frowned and pulled away. “Hey,” he said. Chance didn’t respond. “Hey,” Ben said a little louder.
“Huhm?” Chance grumbled as his head jerked forward.
“Maybe you should go to bed. Last time you fell asleep on the couch, I had to listen to you complaining about your neck for nearly a week.” Ben peeled his arm from Chance’s shoulders and crossed his legs.
“Whatever,” Chance grumped. “You’re exaggerating.” Chance’s exhausted words sounded more like, “Wa-evr, yer zaggeratin.”
“Fine. Sleep there, but when you start crying about your neck, I’ll be sure to say I told you so,” Ben snapped. He realized he was being irrationally short with his sleepy boyfriend, but he’d really been hoping for a little intimacy tonight. Maybe even sex if he was really lucky. His disappointment manifested itself as anger.
“You don’t have to be a dick,” Chance said much more coherently.
“What? I’m trying to help you out so your neck doesn’t hurt. That makes me a dick?” Ben grabbed his glass and downed the remainder of the wine. “Do whatever you want.” He stood and went to the kitchen for more wine. He’d had a pleasant buzz up until a minute ago. Hopefully he could get it back. No sound came from the living room as he poured a proper portion, considered it, then filled the glass. “What? Now you’re not talking to me?” Ben listened. “Real mature. Or maybe you fell back asleep.” Ben padded back to the living room and was only a little surprised to find the couch empty. Chance had slipped upstairs. “Fine,” Ben said. “Sometimes I wonder why I even bother.” He said it just loud enough, hoping Chance would hear it and maybe feel a little guilty. Ben hoped maybe it would force him to come down and apologize so they could salvage the evening.
Ben waited, sipping his wine and straining his ears for signs of Chance moving. After finishing his glass and the episode of Star Trek, Ben decided if Chance had heard, he’d decided to ignore it. Ben picked up the Xbox controller and pushed the button for the menu, exiting out to the home screen. He scrolled over to Netflix, found something suitably easy to watch—a zombie movie, Land of the Dead—and went to the kitchen. He polished off the first bottle and opened the second, taking it back to the living room with him. Ben stretched out on the newly vacant couch. Alone. As usual, he thought.
He drank his wine as animated corpses chased humanity’s last hope on his flat screen. His fuming had eased into an ornery pout. He kept running over the argument in his mind, trying to figure out where it all went wrong, what he could have done or said differently to prevent it. Ben feared this whole relationship might be in a nosedive that started too long ago now for them to pull it out of its descent. Did he even want to salvage it? Ben considered that thought as his eyelids rebelled against his consciousness. The next thing he knew, the pale, gray light of predawn filtered through the living room curtains. He felt an immense pressure in his bladder, so he stood to relieve himself in the small bathroom downstairs.
When he emerged, Ben regarded the almost empty wine glass and the steps leading up to the bedroom he and Chance shared. Shared, Ben thought and sniffed. Not like Chance was willing to admit it. They still kept a spare bedroom that Ben pretended to use when any of Chance’s relatives decided to drop by. It was ridiculous. Why was Chance ashamed of him? They were adults. Who did they have to answer to? He sneered at the steps and flopped back on the couch. He poured out the last of the wine and finished it in three gulps; then pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and lay back, trying to find the most comfortable position. He rolled, turning his back to the stairs, the bedroom, and the man he lived with. This was getting to be a habit: Chance storming off to bed and Ben spending the balance of the evening on the couch.