Join Prism Book Alliance® as Edmond Manning goes Outside the Margins today.
As I’m busy writing the next–and final chapter in the first story arc of The Lost and Founds–I’m going to skip writing original thoughts this month. C’mon, let’s be honest. How original was it going to be anyway? I mean, really.
Instead, let me tantalize and delight you with a scene from my recently published Come Back To Me. In this scene, Mark Benson and Vin Vanbly show up at an expensive restaurant for dinner. Vin arrived in New Jersey to take Mark’s virginity, and they’re having an…interesting weekend. In one awkward scene earlier, Mark announced to a bunch of horrified listeners that Vin was his former high school science teacher.
And now, dinner at a classy supperhouse.
Mark walks tall behind our maître d’. We pass red velvet curtains, gold tassels still gleaming and proud despite their proximity to the carpet. A wooden dance floor that’s so shiny and scuff free, it might be virgin. We navigate clear of that. The booths are hand-carved, their standard dining chairs would be someone’s best pieces in an ordinary home. The muted clattering of silver domes, demure waiters delivering food, and quiet, excited conversation create a richness of elegance, all sounds celebrating extraordinary food. Diners ignore us as we pass, but Mark saunters by as if all were drawn to him, and in some ways, he’s not wrong. More than a few women—and a couple of men—check him out.
I would never demean him by explaining how to behave in a fancy restaurant. No, his glorious presence comes entirely from within, his natural kingship asserting itself. At this moment it’s obvious why he didn’t want me to king him. He doesn’t need it. And not just his masculine grace in this moment, but his demeanor at all times. He is generous in his praise. Though he’s something of a street rat, he is thoughtful about his experiences and appreciates the advantages of his middle-class upbringing, suggesting to me his parents did a damn fine job. He loves his siblings and enjoys talking about them. He thanked me thirty times for the suit and for flying here to meet him. He seemed delighted by the cufflinks I presented him in the shitty motel, although I had to explain what they were and how to attach them. Then, grateful.
At our table, Mark pauses, awaiting further instructions from the maître d’, touching his cufflinks unconsciously. His five-o’clock shadow complements his dark suit, and in the soft glow of candles and mood lighting, he appears a young movie star from the 1950s or perhaps a modern mafia boss’s expensive muscle. Last night, I fucked him like a whore in a seedy motel, stripping away his virgin exterior until all that remained was raw, purring masculinity. Even though he’s wearing the stripper thong under the suit, look at him now, royalty in a lemon-white shirt, silk lemon tie.
Our table is a four top, with plenty of room for the large vase with a dozen red roses set to one side. Mark doesn’t seem to notice them or the fact no other table in the restaurant boasts fresh flowers.
Mark turns to our maître d’ and touches his fingertips to the man’s arm. In a low voice, he asks, “Am I supposed to tip you?”
The man offers an annoyed smile, the kind given to novice diners who don’t know how such things are done. “No, sir.”
“Because, I would,” Mark says in an equally quiet voice. “I have never walked across a fancy restaurant like this. I felt nervous, but it was easier with you being professional, leading the way. Thank you.”
The maître d’ seems genuinely touched. When he says “Enjoy your dinner, gentlemen,” there’s a quality of freshness. He means it.
As we sit, Mark nods politely at a few diners who catch his eye, arches his eyebrows in hello to some of those who admire him from farther away, and then ducks his head behind the roses. “Hey, how many people am I supposed to acknowledge? What’s the etiquette? This doesn’t happen in a Denny’s.”
This makes me laugh.
“I feel like the whole restaurant is staring at us.”
“At you. You look amazing.”
“At us,” he says. “We look amazing.”
“No, Mark. It’s you.”
“It’s us,” he says, and then hides behind the menu. “You can’t argue with me when I’m behind my menu. It’s rude.”
I laugh to myself, delighted by his rule-making—
Wait, what’s wrong? Something’s off.
I glance around. Something inside me is sideways, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
This morning I thought something felt wrong as I lay in bed, but the queasy feeling passed. Today, I learned how difficult it is for me to not be on a King Weekend. I don’t think it’s likely I’ll do this ever again. I had thought maybe I could show up and go with the flow. I thought I could. It’s been hard. I thought that explained this morning’s queasy feeling. Maybe the crushing uncertainty around how to act was behind the feeling something is off. Now I’m not so sure. Something is still not right inside me. A feeling.
What’s happening to me?
Damn it, why don’t I know?
I don’t like surprises.
Our waiter appears, carrying two glasses of champagne, wearing a white shirt and black tie, a crisp white apron tied around his middle like a cummerbund. He could be in his late twenties, I bet. Black hair, slicked back. Maybe early thirties. He introduces himself as Roscoe, promises to serve our every need, and delivers our drinks without causing a single ripple in either glass. His hands free, he folds them behind him, the appropriate air of subservience expected in a money place like this.
“On the house,” Roscoe says.
Mark looks at me with guarded surprise.
I tilt my head no. I’m not sure who sent these.
“These are with compliments from Lawrence, our maître d’. Are you gentlemen celebrating an occasion?”
Ha. My turn to be mischievous.
“Yes. Mark lost his virginity last night.”
Roscoe seems startled by this declaration, but catches Mark’s blushing face for immediate confirmation. His expression loses its crisp professional demeanor, and he gets down on one knee. “Are you serious, man?”
Mark scrunches his eyes closed and says, “Uh, yeah.”
Roscoe says, “That’s fucking awesome. Was she good? Did you love it? Wait, why now? You’re good looking. You could’ve gotten laid long before this, bro.”
“It was incredible.” Mark peeks at me, still blushing. “I was waiting for the right…experience. I was very particular.”
Roscoe chuckles and holds out his fist for a bump. “Well, fuckin’ A. Definitely worth celebrating, bro. What were her tits like? You know what? Don’t answer that. Keep it classy. Lawrence said to get you two good champagne, but he didn’t say why.”
I can’t stop grinning.
Roscoe leans in and asks in confidence, “Was it wet? Was it sloppy?”
Mark laughs and hangs his head.
I clear my throat. “This morning at breakfast, didn’t you describe it as ‘jizz-tastic’?”
Mark puts a hand over his eyes.
Roscoe laughs and punches Mark’s shoulder lightly.
As much fun as this is, I have yet to explain he can’t bareback with strangers he meets online. He can never do that again. Never. The conversation looms.
Roscoe asks a few more questions, and Mark answers truthfully without revealing additional details about his sex partner. Roscoe tells Mark he admires him for waiting, and then shares details about his awful first time, an experience with a high school junior named Leslie, who—immediately upon finishing the sexual act—compared him to her last boyfriend.
“It was terrible,” Roscoe says. “You were smart to wait.”
“How old were you?” Mark asks.
When Roscoe leaves, Mark scowls and says, “Well, that was embarrassing.”
“As your high school math teacher, I couldn’t be more proud of you.”
“Science teacher. I would never date my high school math teacher.”
“Aha. So you did have a crush on your high school science teacher.”
Mark gazes at me coolly, suggesting he will never confess. “We should toast.”
I lift my champagne. Heavy glass. Real crystal.
I offer a single word. “Jizz-tastic.”
Mark twists his mouth into a half grimace and follows my lead. He takes a deep sip. “Is jizz-tastic hyphenated?”
Title: Come Back To Me
Author: Edmond Manning
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 08/23/2016
Cover Artist: LC Chase
After years of lying, scheming, and dangerous manipulation, Vin Vanbly finally gets what’s coming to him: love.
How can he survive unstoppable, uncontrollable love when his very nature demands he control everything? Clues about his one true love—tantalizingly hinted at in each of the books in The Lost and Founds series—come together in four life-changing stories.
Through it all, Vin Vanbly struggles to survive. But what if he is destined for more than mere survival? Is he finally ready to embrace the truth and remember who he was always meant to be? Once there were a tribe where every man was the one true king and every woman the one true queen…
About Edmond ManningEdmond Manning is the author of King Perry, King Mai, The Butterfly King andFilthy Acquisitions. He spends a great deal of time standing in front of the fridge with the door open, wondering why it’s not stocked with more luncheon meats and cheese.
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