Tag Archives: writing

The Next Big Thing Blog Tour

Last week I was contacted by the wonderful and fabulous Donna Fasano and she invited me to join her in The Next Big Thing Blog Tour. Well, hell. With a name like that, how could I say no? The premise is actually quite easy. I interview myself and then post that interview here on my own blog for all of you to read 🙂 I then tag 5 others (or in my case only 4) and they do the same a week later. So, now instead of making you wait any longer, here is my interview of my most fabulous self!

What is the working title of your next book?

Crossing the Divide

Where did the idea come from for the book?

From the idea of what if. What if what we’ve always known to be true, isn’t.

What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery; Suspense; Thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, wow. I’m only at the beginning of writing it, so I really haven’t given that much thought. 🙂

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

What if the image on the other side of the mirror is the real one?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-Published as an ebook sometime next year 🙂

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m currently working on that first draft right now! I’m writing it as I try to tackle NaNoWriMo!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Again, I don’t know. Alice in Wonderland would be the closest.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My youngest son. He asked me why I haven’t written anything he would want to read (I normally write paranormal romance) and I’d been toying around with this idea of a parallel world and decided, why not.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, of course because it’s one of my books! LOL I’d like to think people will pick up my book because they’re curious about what if too.

Here are the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to tell you about their Next Big Thing!

Please, make sure you check them out next Wednesday!


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Indie Authors 20 Questions: Susan Ricci

For this post, I have a super special friend as my guest. I met Susan on Facebook, and I’m so happy I can call her a friend 🙂

Besides her fabulous new book just released today, she also has a short story collection available that is just as amazing!

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

Shucks, Melissa, do I have to? *wink*  I’m a wife, mom, grandma, and a writer with a dog hair fetish because I can’t keep up with housework when I’m on a roll with my stories.  Shoe freak, purse freak, can’t deal with coffee, can’t live without tea. Oh, and I smoke too much.  Hate to cook and I take shameless advantage of my hubby, who loves cooking.

2.) How long have you been writing? 

As is the case with most writers I know, I’ve been at the keys or an old Underwood, since I was 10 and read Gone With the Wind.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write? 

I like all genres, except the extremely far-fetched.  This has either been my blessing or my curse regarding me finishing my work, because I just can’t resist a compelling read!  The book I’m publishing now is Contemporary Fiction.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?

Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems will be available on Amazon, September 17, 2012, though I’m not sure if I’m doing KDP Select yet.  If I go strictly with Amazon and not KDP, I plan on broadcasting it on all the online stores, including B&N, Mobe. (and Dick…)

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.

Learning to make prehistoric baggage work for you in romantic relationships, while conquering mid-life adolescence.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?

Real life coupled with a very strange and vivid imagination.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?

Eighteen months.  Give or take a few days.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve? 

When ideas grab me, I write them on post-its, in my checkbook register, in a journal by the bed in the middle of the night.  Then I just go from there. The sequel for the Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems title came to me in a dream a few months back—more late night post-its!

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with? 

Seeking the perfect word to fit a paragraph/scene during revisions, self-discipline to keep me focused since I’m distractible, and those sorts of things.  It’s called BYOWED or being your own worst enemy disorder.  Kind of like that BOHICA thing, people used to laugh about…

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through? 

NONE!  I don’t know any successful author gliding through any aspect of writing, do you? I guess there must be some, though.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre? 

Mine is set apart from others like it, because it is about mid-life adolescence, a disorder recently discovered by experts, and told from the heart!

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time? 

My prehistoric mind chose the location for me, along with the histories that brought me to present day.

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now? 

My primary characters are both twice divorced and have misgivings about beginning anew.  They’ve also had similar experiences via cyberspace dating, but emotionally, they both want the same kind of relationship. They just don’t know enough about each other just yet, to know for sure!  I assure you they do, though sometimes they take the hard way around it.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.

It’s fabulous!

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings? 

Never give up! Move forward and embrace life’s greatest gift:  Share yourself with another, even if there’s more mistakes.   There is life after divorce, even after a second one, and learn from your memory cemetery.  Get through your mid-life adolescence and forge ahead.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone? 

There’s a sequel framing out via post-its and my brain, but I’m not sure if I’m going to revise another book I already have in the works or share the sequel yet.  Decisions, decisions!  I’d like to know more about what my readers want, once Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems goes live, so I will leave that up to them!  What do YOU want, readers?
17.) Where can readers find you?

My website is:, Contact me on twitter @susanjeanricci. I will have an Amazon page as of September 17 and I’m in process of creating a Facebook Fan page.  (I also have a cell phone if anyone is interested in phoning me…)

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know.  

I’m not a quitter, bad reviews don’t scare me, (but they do make my innards curl).  I don’t thrive on chocolate…sorry!  And my husband told me to say I’m very talented, when I asked him what else to say…

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun. 

I play with my sweet Lab, Emma, go on wine tastings while traveling, visit my grandchildren, and I LOVE football, specifically, the NY Giants!

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peek at chapter one?


Intense emotion, leading to prose or poetry, cannot be described in any other fashion…

Chapter One:  Moral Ineptitude

I’ve been rendered a dinosaur, a relic…

I’m sitting in the theater where my grandson’s rehearsing his spring band concert and darling hubby just texted me, “We should separate.”

“Oh, Glen, that’s so you,” I whisper.  In the twenty years I’ve known him, Glen always finds a way to sneak out the back door.


It’s not his motive that’s the shocker.  I knew exactly how he operated.  Marrying him was not my wisest move, and we’ve been communicating via sarcasm since our first wedding anniversary three years ago.  Arguments evolved, too–how we spend our down time, his and my adult kids’ snafus, even our new bedspread, for Christ’s sake.

He had his picture taken without me the last time we traveled, six months ago (using the word vacationed implies an enjoyable event).  I later found his photo posted on a social network he joined.  In the relationship section, he’d written it’s complicated.

Uh huh.

I’ve even kept my mouth shut about the way we’ve been stagnant as a couple, thinking it would be better for both of us to let the situation ride for a while.


Several weeks ago, Ella Stuart, a woman I know socially, phoned and inadvertently cleared up those rumors I’d been hearing about hubby’s slick trespassing.

“We thought you and Glen might like to join us for a house party we’re having next Friday night,” she’d said.  “It’s been a long time since we’ve all gotten together.”

I was confused.  Ella’s husband, Bill, and Glen are tight, childhood friends and they’d gone to an attorney seminar together just the week before.  I thought for sure, since they’re so close, Glen must’ve told him our marriage was in the morgue.

“Didn’t Glen tell Bill at that seminar last week about our personal situation?  That our marriage is not going so great?” I ask.

“Wow, I’m sorry to hear that.  I didn’t know and I don’t think Bill knows either because he didn’t mention it.  As a matter of fact, he hasn’t seen Glen since last winter.  I had a hell of a time tracking your phone number and finally called information.  The last number Glen gave Bill, well, something’s not right about it.  I tried calling it several times, and some woman kept answering, but when I asked for you or Glen, she’d hang up.”

“What’s the number?”

Ella gave me the number, and as I copy it I’m thinking, you bet your ass something’s not right, because I don’t recognize this.

“Glen told me he went to a seminar last week with Bill, the one in New York when they stayed over,” I said again.  “Are you saying Bill didn’t go?”

“Yes, that’s what I’m saying.  Bill has been home after work every night the past month.  He hasn’t gone to any over night seminars in a long time.”


“What about that baseball game they went to last month?” I ask.  “It’s hard for me to believe Glen didn’t say anything to Bill about us.  I’ve never seen a man love to gossip more than he does.”  I try to laugh, but the noise coming out of me sounds more like ARRGH.

Ella sighed.  “I’m sorry, but Bill hasn’t been to any ball games this season, either, Cindy.  Bill hasn’t seen Glen since the winter.”

“Are you absolutely sure?”  The pleading in my voice makes me almost as sick as this conversation.

“Yes, I’m really sure.  Again, I’m sorry.”  Click.

I lean over my desk to put the phone back in the charger, but my hand trembles and it drops.

I bury my face in my hands.  Yep, not only am I a dinosaur, I’m a throwaway…and so humiliated I have those cramps people get when they’re in urgent need of the bathroom, but there’s no time.  Glen will be home soon and I want to call the woman who kept hanging up on Ella.

When she hangs up on me, I’m not a bit surprised.

What transpired afterward is muzzy, but what remains with me is the sudden crash at the window during Glen’s lively denials after I confront him.

Diverted from our shouting match, we’d hurried over and saw a bird, lying in the garden below.  Even as we watched, it soon gathered its wits and flew away.

As we withdrew to our separate regions in the house, my self-esteem questioned:  How many slams into the window of surprises do I need before I fly this marital coop?

I once heard about some celebrity who sent his wife a fax saying he wanted to divorce, but texting such a message is un-fucking-believable, even for Glen.  My hands flex with the urge to choke him as I recall how he kept checking his cell during my mother’s wake last spring.

Take deep breaths, I tell myself.  Focus on the stage and Jesse’s drum solo.

The pounding drums mimic my heartbeat, but I know until this rehearsal is over and Jesse’s safely home, I must stay calm.  There’s forty miles of driving on a freeway loaded with wild weekenders to cope with, and it’s a definite my grandson’s going to want to stop and eat since it’s past lunchtime, and we always do that anyway.

I pinch my fingers on the bridge of my nose to keep the angry tears at bay.  I want to text him back, continue the battle, but the situation will only escalate if I do, because Glen never loses his wars.

Instead of retreating, I text him anyway, and ask if we can talk about this when I get home.

He responds he’s busy for the rest of the weekend, and won’t be there.

Christ, today’s only Saturday.  What’s supposed to happen on Monday, when we have to go to work in the same office?

Where he’s my boss…


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Who says you need a campfire? S’mores!

Who says you need a campfire? S’mores!

Have you ever wanted those ooey gooey delicious chocolaty concoctions even though you weren’t camping or near a campfire? Ever wanted them so badly that you turned on the stove and toasted your marshmallows over the open flame to get your fix? What if I could tell you how to pull them out of the oven? Yes, you heard me right. S’mores from your oven!

I’m going to warn you now, these are rich! Rich in flavor, which translates into rich in calories! I’ve figured it out and each bar is around 350, which is about the same for a BK iced coffee. Me? I’d rather have this!

So now let’s get down to the baking! Set your oven to 375*

3 pkgs crushed graham cracker                1/2 c sugar

2 sticks melted butter/margarine                4 c mini marshmallow

2 c milk chocolate chips                             13×9 greased baking dish

In a large bowl, combine the crushed graham cracker, melted butter, and sugar. Mix well. Firmly press half of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of your greased baking pan with either a greased hand or the bottom of a glass.

Sprinkle with the marshmallows and top with the milk chocolate chips trying to evenly distribute them.

Top with the remaining graham cracker crumbs and press the layers together firmly before placing into the oven for 12 minutes.

Now, I know this is going to be a difficult task, but when that timer goes off, you need to press the layers together once again, as the marshmallow tends to move things apart, and then here’s the hard part. . . you walk away! I know, I know! Walk away?! Crazy talk! I mean, you could dive right in, and let me tell you, my family and I have before. But it is easier to eat in bar form after it has cooled for about 20 – 30 minutes. ENJOY!

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Kitchen Sink, Melissa Smith, What's New


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Indie Authors 20 Questions: Liz Borino

For this round of 20 Questions, we have a bit of a game to play with it! You heard me right! A game within m lil’ game 🙂 One lucky commenter will win one of Liz’s books! Yea! Now just how awesome is that? Make sure you comment and you’ll have a chance to win! Spread the word and come back often 🙂 One winner will be selected Sunday morning.

1.) Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Two days in a row at Starbucks I had conversations with strangers and both said “You aren’t like other people.” After I said, “Duh,” in my head, I smiled and said, “Thank you.” I am different and proud of it. I love Very Berry Hibiscus drinks at Starbucks, music, writing, my friends, family and my parents’ new dog, Sweetah.

2.) How long have you been writing?
I’ve been telling stories all my life, writing them down since I was 11.

3.) Do you have a preferred genre that you read? Is it the same as what you write?
I try to read in the M/M BDSM genre because I’m trying to learn something. Don’t worry as I’m not in the lifestyle, I’m doing other research, too.

4.) What is the title of your book and where can it be found?
The latest is Action. It can be found on Amazon, Barnes and, and

5.) Describe your novel in 15 words or less.
Action shows the tests of love and life through Zack and Steve’s Dom/sub relationship.

6.) Where did the inspiration for your story come from?
I didn’t like the way other books in the genre portrayed the lifestyle. I was convinced it could be loving and consensual…which is what I believe is portrayed through these characters.

7.) How long did it take you to complete this novel from concept to published?
6 months.

8.) When you sit down to write, how does that process go? Do you outline or just let it evolve?
It used to be that I just let it evolve, but now I submit a synopsis to my publisher first, so it has to be a little thought out.

9.) Are there any aspects of writing you struggle with?
Point of view and pronouns (I write M/M).

10.) Are there any aspects that you simply glide through?
Characterization. See, the boys live in my head constantly so I know them very well.

11.) What sets your book apart from others in the same genre?
I’m hoping it’s my characters. I set out to make them as human as possible.

12.) What is the location of your story setting and why did you choose that place/time?
Contemporary Los Angeles seems pretty fitting for an actor/director couple, don’t you think?

13.) Your main characters, tell me about them. What is their back story? How did they find themselves where they are now?
Steve lost his father at 12, at which point his became a hippy, drugs, alcohol, and various men. So, he learned to take care of himself and her too early. It wasn’t a stretch, then, for him to become a Dominant in the BDSM scene. He makes rules out of love, and enforces them for the same reason. Zack, Steve’s partner and sub, grew up in a Mormon household. He thrives on the structure and love Steve provides.

14.) I’d like to know more about your book. Tell me all about it.
Steve is the director of Ben’s Life, a hit television show in which Zack stars. For the first three years of production, they’re able to keep their relationship an open secret on set, but when a producer threatens to expose them, by demonstrating the proper way to handle Zack, their personal and professional lives are in jeopardy.

15.) What do you want readers to take from your writings?
I have a list of platitudes: love is love, you should accept everyone regardless of lifestyle, those such things. But I really want readers to fall in love with my boys the way I have, and come back for more.

16.) Are more books to follow or is this a stand alone?
Cutaway, Action’s sequel will be released in late September, That’s a Wrap, the third in the series in early December, and then comes Volume II of the series (another three books), to be released next year.

17.) Where can readers find you? Facebook, Action: Amazon AllRomance Amazon Author Page

18.) What are 3 random things about yourself that readers might like to know?
I’m a morning person, I love the city, and—if there are any straight male readers—I’m single.

19.) What do you do in your down time? For fun.
I love exploring cities and going to the theater.

20.) How about letting me have a sneak peak at chapter one?


Chapter 1

“Places, everyone!” Steve Michaels climbed into his director’s chair and waited while the cast and crew of the hit television show, Ben’s Life, got in their places either in front of the camera or behind it. “Quiet on the set.” Silence filled Studio B. “Lights, camera, and rolling in ten, nine, eight, seven, six,” he raised his hand and finished the countdown on his fingers. At the end of the descent to one, Steve pointed at the cameramen and then the actors, “Action,” he whispered.

Zack Greene strode into the spotlight, the ill-fitting clothes and thick glasses his character, Ben Miller, wore didn’t diminish his good looks or confidence. Before Zack even opened his mouth to say his lines, Steve was ready to call cut. Ben had none of Zack’s self-assurance, and while the differences made Ben fun for Zack to play, if he slipped too far into his real-life persona, the scenes were ruined.

Zack started the scene by sitting across a table from the woman his character, Ben, spent the better part of three seasons trying to seduce. “Sorry I’m late.”

“You don’t look sorry, which is interesting considering you’ve been asking me out for months.” Amy, the actress playing Melody, Ben’s love interest, squinted at him.

“I am very sorry. Let’s just order. Wine? I hear they have a great—”

“Cut! Zack, what the hell are you doing?” Steve screamed. Everyone gasped and then silenced.

“Did I get my lines wrong?”

“No, you got everything else possible wrong. Why is Ben late? What scene did we just finish shooting?” He took a deep breath to regain his composure. He knew Zack would mess it up as soon as he walked on the set, but this was worse than anticipated.

“He got startled by what he thought was a skunk, but turned out to be a black cat, slipped on mud, which caused his car door to shut with his keys inside. So, he had to wait for AAA to unlock the car. By the time they came and he changed his muddy clothes, the flower shop was closed so he couldn’t pick up her lilies,” he explained, as though it was Steve who forgot.

Steve gave a warning look, which Zack didn’t heed. His tone needed amending and fast, or there would be consequences. For now, he’d have to keep up appearances. “Great memory.” Snickering in the background. “What makes you think he’d come in with his head held high after his grand impressive plans got ruined over mistaken fear?”

A cocky smile appeared on Zack’s face. “He knows she’s going home with him. Why should he worry?” He pointed to the ever-present silver collar, which locked in the back and in the show gave him psychic power.

Finally, Steve found a way to break his mood. He met Zack’s eyes and reached into his pocket, where they both knew he kept the leash, giving the collar significance in private. “That prediction can always change based on actions. Don’t forget when Ben’s guaranteed promotion was foiled by his reaction during the fire drill.” Zack didn’t hear the words, as his eyes stayed on Steve’s hand in his pocket, which was fine. The words were for everyone else. “Can we try it again? From the beginning.” The assurance was gone from Zack’s demeanor, bringing out the depths of his talent. Sometimes, it was difficult to work with his long-time boyfriend, but Steve could control him like no one else. However, Zack had his days and Steve couldn’t let this one slide. After two more takes, both stemming from honest mistakes on peripheral characters’ parts, he called, “Good job, everyone. See you tomorrow, bright and early. Carlos, please try to get some rest. Make-up isn’t going to cover another night of bags under your eyes.”

Carlos Gonzalez, who played Ben’s best friend, Emilio, laughed. “When you can find someone to cover middle of the night feedings for Clarissa while Angie works nightshift, I’ll sleep through the night.”

“Are you done, yet, dude? This is what, number seven?” Zack asked as the rest of the cast and crew dissipated to their trailers to change.

“Not until we get a boy, esse.” He shrugged and grinned in their directions. “See you tomorrow.”

Zack watched him leave and shook his head. “What if they become the Puerto Rican Duggers?  They could have fifteen or twenty kids running around and still not get a boy, or worse, they have one and he sucks. Some kids are brats, or die in childhood, or…”

The rambling and distracting conversation betrayed his nervousness. Steve found the longer he kept Zack wondering about his punishment, the more effective it would be. “Kids aren’t the only brats around.” Zack winced and Steve continued, “I’m sure they’ll figure it out. Why don’t you change, and I’ll meet you at home? I have some things to finish up here. Might stop off at the store. Need anything?”

Zack sucked in a breath and looked around to ensure no one was in ear shot. “No, thank you, I’ll wait in position for you to return.” Resignation painted his features as he turned away.

Steve went to his office to look over the schedule for the next few days, and come down a little. Since he was young, Steve required quiet time after being around a lot of other people all day. He relished the quiet. So, why choose a profession in which he had to put himself out there constantly? Because from the moment he could hold a camera, Steve captured the stories in everything, at first through still photos and later video. It ignited the fire of life in his veins, but that didn’t mean it was easy all the time.

He and Zack met during auditions. At first, Steve regarded him as a spoiled brat who got everything from his looks. While they certainly didn’t hurt, underneath the bravado was a man in desperate need of love and guidance. On his best days, Zack was funny, hard-working, and charismatic. However, the worst brought out the need for discipline. At the beginning of their relationship, Zack not only agreed to let Steve take the lead, but asked for it. He wanted limits set and to be punished when they weren’t met. They both hated the terms Dom and sub, but, in reality, played the roles. No one outside their relationship knew, an intentional move on their part. A knock on his open door jolted Steve out of his thoughts.

Richard Glenn opened it further when Steve called him in. “I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”

“No, Rich, I’m just looking over the schedule for the next few days. I think we might need some extra hours.” He set the script down and gestured for Rich to take a seat across from him.

“You’re not talking about overtime, are you, Stevie?”

How he hated that name. Stevie.  Rich had been using it since they attended UCLA together more than a decade ago. It did no good to correct him. “Well, it’s important to get this episode right. It’s kind of a big one, with Ben and Melody finally becoming an item. Fans have been waiting three years for this.”

“And what do you think will happen if we give it to them?”

“I’m not following.”

“A lot of times it’s the tension between characters that keep people watching. Think about those sparkly vampire movies. Do you think anyone wanted the awkward girl to marry him and become one of them? All I ever heard was people complaining because they liked the werewolf better. The triangle, or tension, kept viewers interested.”

Steve glanced at the clock and tried to guess how much longer he’d have to sit here.. Zack was probably torturing himself wondering what was coming. “Those were books before they were movies. That plot point really couldn’t be altered. Besides, I think at least half of the fans wanted it to happen. In terms of this series, to stop Ben and Melody from getting together would throw off the rest of the season.” He bit his lip and continued, “What does that have to do with overtime, anyway?”

“Well, I just think we need to watch our spending. Certain people are very expensive to employ, you know. Perhaps the same people who require late nights?”

“With all due respect, we both know who carries this show. The ‘expensive’ people you refer to are the same ones who keep our ratings up and attract advertisers.” Steve wiped his hands on his jeans, determined not to let Rich see he rattled him.

“Yes, I’m well aware of the way the business works. I’ve been in it as long as you have.”

And I’m your boss, thought, but not spoken. “Then, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Why don’t you come in early tomorrow morning? We’ll discuss some new rules for the set. Say, 8:30?” Rich stood and offered his hand.

Since Rich presented no real choice, Steve shook his hand and said, “Sure, have a good night.”

“You, too, Stevie.”

“Dick,” Steve muttered, walking in the opposite direction.

*  * *

Zack’s nipples puckered as the fan blew over his naked body. He stood with his hands planted against the corner and lost track of how long he waited for Steve to return. He gave the power over in the beginning of their relationship because, well, he needed the discipline. Truth be told, he enjoyed it, as well. Zack was an out-of-control actor on the brink of losing his career for allowing his ego to affect his work when his agent sent him on a last ditch audition, Ben’s Life. He managed to get the role along with someone to love and take care of him. He trusted Steve to make decisions and rules for their lives, but he wasn’t looking forward to this punishment. Downstairs, the door opened. His partner greeted their cat, Timmy, and his footsteps ascended the stairs. Zack’s heart raced and his body shook as the bedroom door shut.

Behind him, Steve removed his belt, the metal clinking together as each hole passed. It landed on the bed with a thud. Zack swallowed when Steve attached the leash to his collar and led him to the bed. Steve took a full minute to inspect every crevice of his body. A smile formed on his lips, indicating to Zack that he was no longer angry. He’d never get spanked while his boyfriend was still upset.

“You may assume second position.” Steve sat and spread his legs slightly as Zack lowered his hips across his lap and fitted his penis between his parted knees, in case it hardened, as it usually did during punishments. Zack placed his hands and feet on opposite sides of Steve’s legs. When he was situated, Steve ran his hand over Zack’s ass and the other secured him at the waist. “Don’t move your hands from the floor and no speaking until I ask you a question.” He said the same thing every time. The routine and predictability helped reassure them both. All rules would be off in an instant if Zack said his safe word, but they stayed within their limits. Steve hit each cheek five times, rather lightly, to warm up his ass. Then, he stopped. “Zack, what are you being punished for?”

“Disrupting the final scene.”


“And…talking back to you.”

A light crack between his two cheeks made Zack’s balls bounce between Steve’s thigh and his cock. “You let your ego get in the way of your performance, which as you know, hurts everyone. Now, how do you think you should be punished?” He rubbed circles over his warm, pinking skin, soon to be very red.

“Ten swats with your hand?” His voice trembled with fear and a little bit of hope.

“Ten is for first time offenses. Is this the first time your ego has taken over?”


“What was that?”

Zack sighed and swallowed again. “No, it’s not the first time.”

“Then, you have a choice. Twenty swats with my hand and five with the belt or forty without the belt?” This was nowhere close to the first time they ran into problems with his ego. Steve continued rubbing and tapping. “Hurry up, or I’ll choose for you.”

“Forty,” he whispered to the carpet.

“I didn’t hear you, again. Speak to me, not the floor.” Steve swatted a bit harder.

“Forty,” Zack raised his voice. He’d choose almost any number of swats to using a belt or paddle, but Steve always offered the choice. It wasn’t the pain Zack avoided with foreign implements, because Steve wasn’t gentle with his hand. He craved the intimacy and love mixed with the pain of punishment.

“I want you to count out loud. Every time you ask me to stop for a break, five more are added.” With the back of his hand, Steve spread his legs further apart. His cock grew, making contact through the fabric of his jeans with Zack’s closest leg. Steve raised his hand and slapped one cheek, waited for the count and slapped the other, alternating between the two for the first twenty. Halfway done, he took a few seconds to rub the area as Zack trembled. The man over his lap tried hard not to whimper, but didn’t always succeed. Without warning, he raised his hand and began again, this time focusing on the sides and crack.

A fire built as Steve spanked Zack. The last ten were always the worst, not as if he’d ask him to stop. He deserved it and accepted the longer punishment. Tears welled in his eyes as Steve’s pace and strength increased. The initial sting flared to a burn, which singed any remnants of his overpowering ego. In its place, a mixture of serenity and arousal grew. He moved from the round mounds Zack worked so hard to keep firm to where his legs opened. The last ten were rained on his inner thighs and the crease between the top of his legs and ass. Steve’s hand smacked him across the sit spot on the last swat.

Zack bowed his head to catch his breath and came up on his knees to unfasten Steve’s jeans, having felt his hardness while lying on his lap. The arousal now quenched any other emotions. He licked his lips in anticipation of tasting his juices as he pulled Steve’s pants and briefs down and off. Zack met his eyes as he lowered his mouth until he breathed in pubic hair, gently squeezing the sac behind his manhood. His fingers bit into Steve’s hip and swirled his lips and tongue in different directions.

“Fuck, Zack…” He ran his hands over his blonde hair, fingers resting on his neck as his head bobbed.

Zack desperately wanted to stroke himself, but had to wait for permission. He withdrew his mouth as his lover’s body began to quake. A questioning heat simmered in his eyes as Zack turned around, his hands and knees on the bed. “I believe you gave me a directive. Go ahead.” He waited while Steve applied the lube.

Steve held onto Zack’s tender side with one hand and grasped his cock, stroking as he entered. They let out a moan as their bodies joined. He stopped Zack from rocking back. “You’ll hurt yourself.”

“Then, move, ow!” His ass received a slap for the command, but he couldn’t help himself. “Please?” The plea must have done it because Steve thrust into him. No, the continued contact on his soreness didn’t make it any easier to deal with. But with the eight inches inside him, tantalizing his core, and Steve jerking him off, he wasn’t going to complain. A few more minutes and Zack couldn’t catch his breath, the need too great. “Steve, please, can I come?”

“Yes, love, now you may.” He hardly finished the pump he was on when Zack released all over his hand and the sheets. Then, he collapsed on the wet spot as Steve shot his own load deep within him. Their orgasms were punctured with a gentle kiss that lasted until their hearts settled.

* * *

Steve rose from the bed after smoothing Zack’s hair. The loss of contact elicited a low groan, which Steve answered with another kiss. “I’ll be right back. Going to get us cleaned up. Don’t get up until I come back. I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Zack complied, only moving enough to shift away from the wet spot. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, love. It’s over now. Let me take care of you.” Steve used the bathroom and wiped the last the lube off of himself with a wet washcloth. As he prepared one for Zack, he swallowed hard at the memory of the punishment. Steve was always fine with administering discipline—until his love started crying. Whenever it got to that point he wished Zack used his safe word to force him to stop because unless he did, Steve had to deliver what he promised. Those were the rules. He wrung the cloth out and left the bathroom.

As he passed the dresser, he considered throwing on pajama pants, or at least boxers, but decided against it. Zack needed as much skin to skin contact as possible for comfort. Steve took the damp cloth to the bed, and after grabbing the cooling massage gel, spread Zack’s legs apart. “You did so well. I’m very proud of you.” Steve separated the two cheeks and ran the cloth between them. Zack sucked in his breath through his teeth, the material agitating his raw skin. “I know. I’m sorry.”

“I’m okay,” he responded quietly.

Steve pressed his lips to Zack’s bottom, but pulled back quickly, mouth stinging as though he drank his coffee too soon. He squirted the cooling gel on his hands and rubbed it everywhere his hands touched during the discipline. Three layers on the redness later, Steve moved upwards and massaged his shoulders and back while kissing his hair and murmuring in his ear until Zack relaxed. “Can you lay facing me, love?”

Zack rolled on his side and turned his mouth up when Steve stretched out next to him. “I’ll change. Be better.”

Steve stroked his jaw and feathered a kiss to his lips. “I don’t ever want you to be anyone except the sweet, passionate and hardworking man you are. Your ego prevents other people from knowing him, which is criminal.” He hugged Zack close, smiling as the embrace was returned.

“Thank you,” he whispered.

Downstairs twenty minutes later, after a cool shared shower, Steve watched as Zack emptied the contents of the crock pot onto two plates. Zack placed one in front of him, his red bottom on display because he wore only a tee shirt. “Thanks, not sitting?”

Zack snorted a laugh. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to sit for makeup tomorrow.” He made Steve’s drink first, a Bloody Mary, with a little bit of lime mixed in. Then he sipped his Sprite.

“Tomorrow, right. I have a meeting with Rich at 8:30.” He rolled his eyes and absently stirred his drink.

“Yeah? What does old Dick want?” Zack took a bite of his carrot.

“Zack, watch yourself.” Steve narrowed his eyes, and his tone changed to one of warning.

“Why can’t I talk crap about him here?” He held his plate in his hands and leaned against the counter, eating faster than normal.

“Because you lack self-control. I don’t want you ranting on set tomorrow.”

“I’ve gotten better.” He swallowed his meat and took another bite.

“You’re right, you have. I don’t know what’s up with him, honestly. Other than his usual position of just being an asshole.” The alcohol infused tomato juice mixed with the softened meat and vegetables in his mouth. He relished the taste after his long day.

“Look, I’m not going to say anything to anyone. I just want to know what’s going on.”

Steve cracked his neck in a failed attempt to release the tension. “I don’t know. He was giving me shit for possibly staying late one night next week. Something about watching expenses? I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

“Is the show having budget problems?” Zack set his plate down and massaged Steve’s head, neck and shoulders.

Steve leaned into his touch and kissed his hands when he relaxed. “Not as of the last network meeting I attended.” He smiled to himself and tugged Zack down closer to him. Their lips pressed together. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Steve pushed his chair back and extended his arms. “Um, I’d rather not sit, if that’s okay.”

“Zack, I will never hurt you. Trust me.” All it took. Steve helped situate him so he sat sideways on the chair, his butt in the gap between Steve’s parted legs. They rested cheek to cheek, relishing the silence of the night. Steve held him tightly and they kissed slow and deep. “Listen to me, please. I don’t want you to worry about anything, especially Rich. I’m going to take care of it.”

“We’re a team. I need to be informed to do my part.”

“You will be. I promise.” He hoped the anxiety didn’t show. His boyfriend didn’t need the stress of knowing on whom Rich laid the blame. “Are you finished eating?”

“I kind of inhaled it. You?”

“Yeah. Why don’t we join Timmy upstairs?”

Zack eyed Steve’s plate and tilted his head to the side. “You finished your drink and barely ate. Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine, not really hungry, I guess.” He kissed away the concern and helped him stand. “We’ll clean up here and go to bed.” Steve used the last of his energy to infuse authority into his voice. Zack offered no argument.


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