vanilla clouds

Romantic novella, 35 000 words.

Expected publication: July 25 th 2018 by Beaten Track Publishing

 

“I could spend days listening to you talk about chocolate.”

Sex and chocolate are the two pleasures Michał enjoys most in life.
His sex life has been nonexistent for some time, though. After a particularly bad hookup, he keeps mostly to himself. That leaves chocolate. Luckily, he works surrounded by the most delicious, extravagant produce in Gothenburg. Beside his job at the chocolaterie, his main source of excitement is his online friend, Magnus, whom he stubbornly refuses to meet in person.
A customer turns up at the chocolaterie one day—tall, shy, and charming. He could be just the right man. If Michał can step out of his overly safe shell, there might be not only chocolate, but sex, too. Maybe chocolate-flavored sex. And if he’s lucky, maybe even love.

Warning:
This book contains explicit scenes, adult language, and obscene amounts of chocolate.

Find Vanilla Clouds on Goodreads, Beaten Track Publishing, or Amazon.

 

Excerpt:

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A LOVE SONG FOR THE SAD MAN IN THE WHITE COAT

(unedited)

Part 3: Epilogue

Simon sat on the park bench, his long legs stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. He was leafing through a book, frowning deep in thought. Matěj sat pressed with his back against Simon’s arm, his feet in the usual red sneakers perched on the opposite armrest. His longish shaggy hair reached to his eyebrows, he squinted in the sharp spring sunshine, taking a drag of his cigarette. He had a plain black T-shirt on, his tattoos on display. The small gauges in his ears were bright red. And because he refused to shave on weekends, his face was covered with two days’ worth of stubble. Simon, on the other hand, was clean shaven, his light brown hair cropped short, the button-down ironed.

An elderly couple passed them, the man looking straight forward with a stony face; the woman observed them slightly confused. Matěj winked at her smiling. She snapped her head forward leaning toward her husband saying something in his ear. The man shook his head at her. They didn’t look back as they disappeared behind the shrubberies.

Matěj wiggled against his boyfriend, leaning his head on Simon’s shoulder and put the cigarette back between his lips humming. He exhaled, watching the smoke against the blue sky. The sunshine was so intense at this time of the year it made his eyes tear up.

“You okay there?” Simon asked and turned his book, skimming the inscription on the back cover.

“Fine, why?”

“No reason. Just checking.”

Matěj turned a little, his cheek on Simon’s shoulder.

“I already asked Mike to come tomorrow,” he said in a careful tone watching the passers-by in the park.

“Kiss-ass,” Simon murmured, not lifting his eyes from the book.

“Shut up. He’s cool. I like him.”

“He’s an arrogant know-it-all.”

“Exactly my type of man. You two are so similar, you should be best buddies.”

Simon chuckled. “Invite whoever you want. Except for my mother.”

“I wouldn’t dare. She hates me like the plague. I am the devil incarnate.”

“Just leave the gauges out next time we go visit and we should be fine.”

“I doubt that.”

Matěj rose, throwing the stubbed-out cigarette in the nearest bin. His Sunday smoking tradition had started in February. Matěj had said he wanted to stop, but the thought of never smoking again felt too dire, a tedious finality. Hence, Simon had suggested once a week—like a Sunday ritual. During the weekend, Matěj always put the gauges back in—he didn’t wear them at work—and he didn’t shave until Monday morning. On Sundays, he had his one and only cigarette for the week. As far as Simon knew, Matěj had kept it like that for three months.

Simon followed Matěj down the path, and they started walking in the direction of the metro station.

“Do I have to wear a tie tomorrow?” Matěj asked, looking away.

“Not on my account.”

“I think I should.”

“Like I said, I don’t care.”

“But you will be wearing a tie.”

Simon smiled. “Actually, I have a bow tie. Turquoise.”

Matěj turned to him, grinning. “A bow tie? Yes! I’ll love you in a turquoise bow tie. Perfect.”

There wouldn’t be a ceremony. Just a couple of signatures, and a quiet dinner at a pub in Dejvice. They could be wearing jeans and T-shirts, and nobody would care.

“I could buy a bow tie in the morning,” Matěj mused. “A red one.”

Simon caught his partner around his shoulders pressing a quick kiss on his temple. He dropped his arm immediately.

“I hate this, you know,” Matěj said frowning.

“What?” They reached the end of the path and crossed the road to the opposite sidewalk. The streets were crowded with families and groups of tourists. Everyone seemed to be out of doors on a spring Sunday afternoon.

“My feeling ashamed. And you tolerating it, humoring me.”

“You seemed relaxed back there in the park. I didn’t want to push it.”

Matěj caught Simon’s hand, interlacing their fingers. “Let’s push them for a few minutes,” he said eyeing the people around them.

“Okay.”

They continued down the sidewalk and disappeared into the crowd.

A LOVE SONG FOR THE SAD MAN IN THE WHITE COAT

(unedited)

Part 1: The Mental Patient

—The Bohnice Psychiatric Hospital, Prague, August 2014—

It was early Sunday morning in August. The boy sat in a small room, the sun painting white stripes on his faded hospital gown through the prison-like window. The room was empty. Very empty. Void. No objects to manipulate, no furniture except for the heavy bed that was screwed to the floor. No decorations. What would be the point? There was literally nothing in the room except faded white paint on the walls and the bed he was sitting on. Nothing to play with, nothing to hurt himself with. Emphasis on the second. He scratched absently on the bandages on his forearms. They itched, the healing wounds under them burned when he moved his hands. Stupid. So stupid.

A nurse peeked inside and her gaze swept over the space, checking. They did that all the time. None of them knocked.

(more…)

A Love Song for the Sad Man in the White Coat

Part 1: Marta moving out of Simon’s apartment

(unedited)

Marta folded the last towel once more to stuff it in the already bursting bag. The last bag. She was deeply convinced she was doing a good thing. Still, she had to force the calm expression.

She dragged the heavy luggage into the living room leaving the bedroom empty except for a stripped bed and dust on the top shelf of the closet where she couldn’t reach. She stopped close to the door when she noticed Simon. He sat on the sofa deep in thought staring into a shoe box he held in his lap like a sleeping infant. His face was inscrutable. But Marta knew him too well. She left the bag by the door and slowly approached. She put her hand on Simon’s shoulder and sat down next to him.

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MUDr. Simon Mráz, PhD, assistant professor at the First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, sat at the center table in the lecture hall, drawing stick figures on his notepad. Instead of his usual white coat, he wore a dark gray jacket that itched uncomfortably around his neck. He squinted at the paper, fighting drowsiness.

Four minutes to half past seven.

It was still mostly dark outside. Who the hell came up with the idiotic notion doctors should learn to rise early? They were no fucking bakers. He felt last night’s long run in his thighs and calves. Even his shoulders ached. He’d overdone it again.

A stick figure scratching its ass. A stick figure showing a middle finger to the public.

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Coming September 1st, 2017.

Alexander Popescu is a university lecturer in a quiet German town. He’s a respectable man in his thirties who stays fit, has a decent career and travels alone—his only vice is an occasional greasy meal. And beer. And violent computer games. Nobody has to know about the other Alex—the acclaimed porn writer. His ingenious erotic fantasies earn him good money and keep his capricious mind harmlessly entertained.

When his young friend and protégé Christian transfers to Freiburg for medical school, Alex is overjoyed…and terrified that Christian will find out about Alex’s indecent alter ego. The time they spend together, as lovely as it is, could overturn Alex’s carefully balanced life. Suddenly, the writing is not good enough, his hair seems to be thinning, his careful hookups leave him unfulfilled, and his dreams are haunted by the innocent young man he’s vowed to protect.

However, Christian is not a boy anymore. He’s a grown man of twenty-one, clever and deadly attractive. And he’s hiding some secrets of his own.

Lighthearted contemporary romance novella.

Amazon | GoodReads

Read excerpt:

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Prequel to The Layover

Jamie Reid shook his hands above the sink, and some droplets landed on the mirror. He decided it didn’t matter. It was the club’s fault there were no paper towels. The public spaces here in Switzerland were tidier than back home in Scotland, Jamie had noticed. The night life was just as unsanitary, though. He inspected his face in the stained mirror and couldn’t help but find the image unappealing—he looked pale and tired. It matched his mood.

The sounds of two bodies colliding, the rustling of clothes and heavy breath resonated from the stall directly behind him. Pictures of what might be happening in the stall invaded his mind. They made him wildly uncomfortable, and shamefully, inconveniently aroused.

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FLASH FICTION: SILVER DUST.
THIS SHORT STORY WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON HTTP://LEXCHASE.COM.
THE ORIGINAL PROMPT BY LEX CHASE.

Jens slapped at the shower handle to stop the water. He strained to listen. Tap. Tap. Tap. Only water dripping down. Silence. And then a dull thud. From inside of the apartment. A squeak of a chair on linoleum. Jens popped the shower door open quietly, sticking his head out. He’d left the door to the bathroom ajar. The bedroom window was open, too. It had been another hot August day, and the apartment was stuffy.

Reaching for the towel, he clutched it to his chest and stilled. Another quiet squeak. His heart beating wildly, Jens scrubbed the towel down his torso perfunctorily and wrapped it around his waist. In his mind, he searched for a weapon. His gaze swept his surroundings. A hamper, four shampoo and shower gel bottles, a tube of hair product. Henry’s shaving kit. The rail holding the towels was screwed tightly to the wall. The electric toothbrush had a sharp steel shaft sticking up, maybe one inch long? He grimaced at that thought. A toilet brush? God, he was hopeless.

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Flash Fiction: I need sixteen large pizzas. Eight with pepperoni, eight with extra cheese.
This short story was first published on http://lexchase.com.
The original prompt by Lex Chase.

I stripped off the hoodie I was wearing over my apron. It smelled like old cheese. This place was home, but tonight, I felt stretched thin. It was closing time on a Tuesday, the slowest night of the week. I’d sent Mia away half an hour ago. There were only three tables left to be wiped clean, I’d already taken care of the ovens, and I was craving fresh air, a lazy walk home, and the longest, steamiest of showers. My back hurt and my feet burned after running around in the heat of the kitchen all day. Not the best day. Not the best week. Hell, I was having a shitty summer.

Then the phone rang.

“Manny’s. How can I help you?” I asked into the receiver, trying to unknot the apron with my left hand. No dice. I switched hands, holding the phone to my left ear. The voice in the phone crackled.

“…and I need sixteen large pizzas. Eight with pepperoni, eight with extra cheese.”

Fucking jokers. The knot gave away, and I chucked the apron into the hamper behind the counter.

“Dude, it’s ten minutes to closing time. I’m not making sixteen pizzas. Unless you are feeding a busload of refugee kids, I can’t help you.”

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