Favor - or Favour, if you're British - is a short Halloween story. It's sweet like candy, and it has laser-quest, fake fangs, and boys making out in graveyards. If that sounds like your kind of thing, it's also a mere $0.99, so an affordable treat.
Micky's the resident goth on his hall at university, and it hasn't exactly made him the most popular guy at school. Until Halloween that is, when everyone wants to borrow his clothes for costumes. Rhys wants more than just Micky's clothes, but he's not sure he can convince Micky that he's for real. Will they have more than just a Halloween illusion?
Originally published by Torquere Press, Favour has been re-released, with its original UK English spelling restored, and is available to buy in a range of electronic formats direct from Smashwords or from e-book distributors.
"I'm trying!" Rhys protested. "I'm not used to this stuff. Okay, I'm ready. Try again."
Micky carefully placed the fingers of his left hand against Rhys' face, and brought the kohl pencil he was holding in his right close to Rhys' cheek. "Okay. Look up."
Rhys focused on up -- Micky could feel the muscles moving Rhys' eyebrow -- and Micky stuck his tongue out as he concentrated on drawing a smooth line along the lower eyelid without stabbing Rhys in the eye. Stabbing Rhys in the eye wouldn't help with the guy's flinching problem. They were both holding their breath, but this time Micky managed to complete the line before Rhys jerked his head back, blinking.
"Sorry! Sorry. I know."
"It's okay -- that's that eye done, anyway." Micky moved back half a step to take a look at his handiwork. Rhys was sitting on Micky's desk, and Micky had been standing between his black-clad thighs. He snatched up his hand when he realized it was resting on Rhys' leg. "And it's totally worth it -- you're going to look great," he finished.
Rhys smiled, and Micky swallowed. Oh, yeah, Rhys looked great. He'd found a wine-red, silky shirt from somewhere, which made his natural tan look glowing and golden, and even without eyeliner a long sweep of dark lashes framed his eyes. With the leather cuffs Micky had lent him drawing attention to his long-fingered hands, the black-with-red-tips nail-varnish was startling.
Micky forced himself to stop dwelling. "Okay -- ready for the other eye?"
"Sure." Rhys nodded, and leaned back a little, hands on the desk behind him, legs spread, inviting Micky to step closer. Bending close with his eyeliner poised above Rhys' cheek-bone, Micky could smell Rhys' aftershave, feel Rhys' body-heat. Not very in-character for a vampire, he reminded himself. That didn't make it any less dizzying
Joyfully Reviewed : Favor is a hot, fun story about what happens when two very different guys give in to their mutual attraction. I liked gothic Micky's determination to be himself, no matter what other people think. I also liked his uncertainty about Rhys, which made for some amusing moments. Rhys is a great match for Micky, willing to try new things and take a risk to get what he wants. Alex Draven's interesting (British, I think) slang also makes this entertaining for all the non-British readers out there. If you're in the mood for something sweet, hot, and unexpected, pick up Favor.
3.5 strars from Rainbow Reviews: Their encounter in the church graveyard is fun and steamy, as are the two young men. The author has a great voice ... blending easy and descriptive writing with humor and romance makes this short story a fun and enjoyable read.
Favour - Valentines
When Micky got back from his Dickens seminar he found a carrier bag propped up against his room door; a thin, plain blue, probably-from-the-student-union, plastic bag. He nudged it cautiously with his foot.
Inside the bag something shifted and clunked against the floor.
Curious, Micky picked the bag up by one handle, holding it at a cautious distance, in case this was someone's idea of a practical joke. April fools was a couple of months away, but when had that ever stopped the muppets he had to share a corridor with? Careful examination didn't reveal any unpleasant smells or dubious textures, so Micky finally peeked inside.
The bag contained a half-sized bottle of Jack Daniels, a data cd in a white paper envelope, a couple of condoms, and some Yorkie bars bundled together with an elastic band.
Mickey shrugged shifted the bag over to his left hand, and dug out his key ring. Inside his room, he dumped his rucksack on the desk, and tipped the contents of the plastic bag onto the rats-nest of his unmade bed.
The cd just said 'M', but there was a yellow sticky note trapped under the elastic on the chocolate bars, which Micky had to work free before he could read it.
No girls allowed - see you later - R
It took Micky a moment before he figured out what Rhys was getting at. He turned one of the Yorkie bars around in his hand, ran a finger of the 'no girls' roadsign on its label, and smiled to himself.
Fair game; when he'd said he didn't do Valentine's Day 'cos it was too girly, he hadn't been thinking of this.
** end **
(Illustration of the chocolate bar in question here, if anyone's curious)
Favour - Tradition
(set on the boys 1st Anniversary)
Rhys was half watching the muted black-and-white film on the tv, and half watching Micky. Micky was sitting sideways in the big battered armchair, tv remote resting in the space under his knees where his feet were tucked up against the arm, talking on the phone, and picking at the chipped black polish on his nails.
From Micky's half of the conversation, and the way his accent was just that bit stronger, Rhys had deduced that it was a member of Micky's family on the other end. Either his mam, his nan, or one of his aunties, most likely.
He ought to go back upstairs, where the problem sets for next week's seminars were waiting for him, but what was the point of Saturday afternoons if you couldn't slack in the living room for a while?
The house was quiet - Ed was down in the uni library, because all his lecturers had coordinated to have their due dates arrive at once, and Clive had the room right up in the attic, so you could only hear his music if you really strained for it. On the tv Cary Grant was trying to distract his leading lady from the body-count by kissing her silly. Rhys smiled to himself - Arsenic and Old Lace was pretty funny even with the sound turned down.
He'd met Micky's parents back in June, when they'd come up to help Micky find a student house off campus, and he'd met Micky's nan, and about three million members of his extended family when Micky's cousin Beth had got married back in August, and one of the things that the whole family had in common was that they could talk the hind leg off a donkey. When he was talking to his mam Micky's role was reduced to one or two sentences every five minutes, and lots of 'uh-hu's.
The cup of instant coffee he'd made for Micky was luke-warm and barely touched on the table by the phone, and Rhys's was long gone. He turned the mug around in his hands, and then decided that, actually, yes, he could use a refill and a sandwich.
Standing up, he caught Micky's eye and mouthed 'you hungry', gesturing to his stomach.
Micky nodded, and opened his eyes wide, like a Disney puppy begging for scraps. Rhys grinned, and rolled his eyes. Micky wasn't a big guy by any measure, but he was almost always ready to eat when someone offered.
He was out in the kitchen, digging around in the washing up on the drainer to find a knife for the mustard, when a sudden change in volume made him jump.
"Nan!" Micky yelped. "You can't say things like that!"
Rhys abandoned the half made sandwiches and went over to put his head around the living room door. The hell?
Micky had his spare hand buried in his hair, his raised arm covering his face, and he was shaking his head.
"No, no, Nan, I know. In your day … I know! It's just… Yeah, no, I do. You know I do. I brought him to Beth's wedding, didn't I? " There was something strained in his voice, though.
Rhys's ears were burning now - what had Micky's nan said about him?
"Yeah, about that long," Micky was saying, when he finally noticed his boyfriend lurking in the doorway. As soon as Micky looked up, Rhys could tell that the off-ness in Micky's tone was him trying not to crack up. His eyes were creased, and he was biting down on his lower lip while his nan was talking.
"What?" Mickey whispered, exaggerating his mouth movement.
Micky waved his hand violently - something between 'shut up' and 'go away', and the flush on his cheeks got a shade brighter.
Rhys frowned, and asked again, silently. "What's she saying?"
Micky shook his head, desperately. "That's sweet, Nan," he said into the phone.
"What's sweet?" Rhys mouthed.
Micky rolled his eyes.
"You're right, Nan. I'll have to see if I can find somewhere that sells hazelnuts.... Yes, in the shell. Of course ... Look, um I'm going to have to go, Nan. There's, um, I need to be … I'm meeting some friends in town, is all," Micky lied, still crimson with repressed laughter. "Fair enough, Nan. Love you too. Bye... yeah. Alright, bye, then."
"What?" Rhys asked, out loud, before the phone was back in its base unit.
"God, my nan," Micky said, with feeling, and then paused to turn around in the chair, so his feet were back on the floor and he was hunched over, elbows on knees. Staring down at the floor he continued, "My nan wanted to know if we were keeping up traditions on-"
His voice started to waver, and he completed his sentence through the first peals of laughter.
"On Nut-Crack Day."
** end **
(I was casting about for inspiration, and a friend of mine from Scotland mentioned the tradition of putting hazelnuts in the embers of a fire, to predict how a relationship will work out. I imagine this works about as well as throwing apple peal over your shoulder to find out the initial of the person you're going to fall in love with, but once I heard the phrase ‘Nut-Crack Day, I could just picture the boys' reactions.
According to that most reliable of sources, Wikipedia, my friend isn't completely making this up. One old custom associated with the Western Isles was to put two large nuts in the hearth of a peat fire; these were supposed to represent yourself and your intended spouse. If the nuts curled together when they warmed up, it was deemed to be a good omen; but if they jumped apart, then it was time to look for another sweetheart. So now you know.)