Sneak Peek Sunday, once again! Follow the link back to see what other authors are working on this week (please note that participating authors write in all genres and at all heat levels).
The Love in Los Angeles universe is expanding. With the way Racheline and I write this is hardly surprising: to brainstorm, we tell each other stories, and stories beget stories.
One such begotten story is Midsummer, which is set around a summerstock production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (Backstage stories, they are our Thing.) And while later on the characters in this story will intersect a little more with the people from Starling and its sequels, for now we’ve got them more or less trapped for three months deep in the back woods of Virginia.
Eventually Love in Los Angeles ventures outside of the urban, but Starling is set in cities — L.A., New York, and Washington, DC — and is about people in the TV industry. The book clips along like a TV script does; spare prose and light on the description. Midsummer, though, is about a Shakespeare production, and it goes out in the deep green woods of summer and lingers there through long, humid evenings. In the woods, away from civilization, our paragraphs get longer and our prose gets lusher.
It also gets a little more magical. A Midsummer Night’s Dream (the Shakespeare play) is about dreams and magic, and it questions what is real. In Midsummer, if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that things are not entirely mundane either.
It’s not fantasy (although we love a good fantasy and adore playing with the paranormal), but it is magical realism. And you should pay attention, because as Love in Los Angeles advances, things are going to get a lot more magically real.
It’s a good audience, and a good first performance for everyone, but Michael absolutely steals the show. John is ridiculously proud, even as Michael disrupts the planned bows by climbing all over him and Rose, Puck to the immense laughter of the audience until he leaves the stage. If they’re lucky, Keith will have the good sense not to throw a fit.
There’s a party afterwards, because opening night, and there’s way more booze around the campfire than usual. John expects Michael to want to savor his triumph with their friends and burn off some of the performance high he’s still buzzing with, but after three minutes perched on John’s knees Michael jumps up again, takes John’s hand, and pulls him out of the circle without a word.
The noise of celebration, and the light of the campfire, fades away behind them as Michael leads them under the trees and then off the path into the woods. When they don’t stop immediately, and John is no longer sure they are even still on the theater’s property, he considers expressing concern — what if they get lost or shot by some crazy neighbor? — but Michael is so clearly certain of whatever it is he’s doing, it seems unnecessary. It’s not just John who will obey him.
Finally, Michael stops in a place that, to John at least, seems like every other patch of woods they’ve passed through. His eyes have adjusted to the dark by now, and the moon rising up over the tops of the trees makes Michael’s face, with smears of silver and green still around his eyes, shimmer.
John drops to his knees in front of him. It’s not just that he wants, desperately, to suck Michael off. He wants to worship him.
Michael makes a high, eerie sound in the back of his throat when John gets his shorts off and sinks his mouth down over him. He is otherwise unusually silent, panting amidst the rustle of leaves and the dark sounds of the forrest.