Choose your own adventure: your fantasy OTP invites you to join them in the bedroom. Do you take the plunge and insert yourself into the action or flee the scene and leave the details to your imagination?
Post-COVID, would-be author Carmen combats a wicked case of writer’s block while juggling a thankless diner gig with an insipid online college course. To complicate matters, the sizzling situationship between Carmen and her FWB, fine-as-f*ck tech nerd Stefan, has reached the cooling stage.
Enter the muse: Carmen encounters Wallis, a smoldering trans seductress whose indecipherable motivations fan the flames of novel inspiration. The catch? Carmen’s Wallis-centric WIP features a romantic pairing with Yumi, her RL sapphic lover.
As creation calls, dedication rules. The boundaries between fiction and reality begin to blur; and Carmen finds herself smack-dab in the middle of an uncanny life-imitating-art scenario. Will she pen her way out of her predicament or will the plot consume her?
Primer 3: Musing is the third book in standalone series Primer.
Warning: this book contains strong language, substance abuse, and explicit sexual content. Reader discretion is advised.
Note: there is a slight difference in Musing’s book cover on Smashwords, Apple, Nook, Kobo, and other retailers, since nudity (even a paint-covered butt) is prohibited. Amazon and Google Play carry the eBook with the unmodified, original cover.
When we get to Gaytors, Rob’s been waiting for five minutes, but he acts like it’s been fifty.
“Honey, where were you?” He puts his arms around Yves like an overprotective father. “I was following you on Find My Location. Why were you parked at the corner of Hoover and Main for so long?”
“Carmen lost one of her fake lashes so we had to put on the emergency lights.”
“I see.” Rob gives me a look of distaste. “Maybe you should switch eyelash glue brands so you don’t endanger my boyfriend with your shenanigans.”
Sniffing, he surveys the security-guarded parking lot. It’s packed to the brim with hooting and hollering clubgoers, many of whom are openly drinking liquor from paper sacks and smoking pot. “This is the wrong side of town.”
“Ha!” I chortle. “Did you forget we’re in Detroit? There’s not a ‘right’ side of town.”
Rob bristles. “No wonder you’re so at home here.”
Luckily a bedazzled Latinx drag queen takes our attention when she sashays through the narrow space between me, Rob, and Yves.
“Pardon me, gents. And lady.” She throws me a wink. “Nice rack.”
“Why, thank you!” I savor Rob’s visible discomfort. “Do the big bad boobies scare you?”
“He has an aversion to public breastfeeding,” Yves says.
I point at my chest. “Do you see a baby?”
“Ask him again nine months from now” is Rob’s super-cringe reply.
“FYI, Rob, it’s infantile to be scared of breasts.” Slinging my hair around so it whips near his face, I add, “What’s your damage?”
“I just don’t like them.”
Or you, he doesn’t need to voice aloud.
I stomp to the entrance without waiting for Man-Child and his pacifier to join me.
The queen working the entrance is built like a brick shithouse. She’s fabulously chonky and has ebony skin that’s likely as smooth as it was ten years ago. Her acrylic nails rival Freddy Krueger’s.
After stamping my hand, she purses her lips and says, “The show’s upstairs. Dance floor’s downstairs. Drinks are cold. Clock’s ticking, so you best get gone.” She then flicks her cat-eyed gaze to Rob and Yves. “Next.”
Once inside, I remove my vegan leather jade jacket and fold it over my arm. The place hasn’t changed much. The bathroom sports graffiti touting the sexual skills of Joe Blow; the floor’s borderline sticky with early-night drink spills; and the music’s so loud I’m worried it’ll rupture my uterus. But I haven’t been out dancing since New York, so I’m determined to enjoy this.
On second thought, I should have come alone. A single backward glance is enough to confirm that Rob is already ripping into his complaints: he’s gesturing at the loosely populated dance floor with his index finger and thumb sticking straight out (always a sign he’s in a tiff) as Yves, ever consoling, strokes his upper arm and nods like a therapist listening to her patient recall childhood trauma.
“Yargh! I need a drink,” I groan, accidentally connecting eyes with the nearest shot boy.
Not that kind of drink. Ugh, get that frou-frou Jell-O shit away from me! I turn my head, but it’s too late—he jounces into the middle of my path, all perky assed and sparkly eyed, asking me if I want a Life Saver, whatever the fuck kinda candy-ass shot that is. I decline as politely as possible, trying to keep the grimace off my face, and head to the bar.
It sucks being on the shorter side, especially when you’re trying to signal the bartender. At one point I jump up and down like an agitated Goldendoodle, but that doesn’t help. I consider flashing my tits, then think better of it when I remember the crowd is seventy to eighty percent gay men. OFC not all of them would be as tit phobic as Rob—some of them may even enjoy the view—however, this isn’t Baton fucking Rouge, and I’m not about to earn any beads for my selfless act of flashing.
I hype up the aggro factor in my bid for the bartender’s attention.
“Yo!” I shout from my diaphragm, uncomfortably aware of my gaping mouth and its vulnerability to other people’s incidental spit.
The pulse-altering bass drowns out my efforts. Sulking, I stalk over to Yves and Rob, who are canoodling in a half-lit corner, apparently unconcerned about their drink-less state.
“Rob.” I tap his shoulder. “Can you please use your tallness to aid, abet, and get my whistle wet?”
“Are you requesting sexual favors from my man?” Yves murmurs, his lips grazing Rob’s neck. “If that’s the case, you’ll have to wait your turn.”
This night sucks like a pierced straw—until my narrowed eyes land on one of the prettiest ladies I’ve seen in ages. She’s a cool drink of iced coffee in the height of global warming; she has sorrel skin, her features elegantly elongated like evening shadows. Before I can take in the rest of her, I glimpse her autumn-brown eyes and my world slides off center. There’s an expression of knowing amusement on her face—the unlit cigarette poised between her fingers, the rueful purse of her rose-kissed lips—but her eyes are dark stars, distant and celestial. When the strobe light flashes near her, I spy a glimmering frame of silver eyeliner around her luminous orbs.
“Smokes,” I breathe. “Holy.”
God, I wish I could go back in time to get my journal. (I always bring it when I’m solo.) The beauty signals to the bartender. Even though she’s at the back of a line three dudes deep, she’s pushing six feet in her strappy shoes—plus she looks like she just stepped off a plane from the Canaries, so OFC the bartender notices her straightaway. I wish I could hear what he says, because my limited lip-reading skills tell me he knows her; maybe she’s a regular. What is your name, divine one?
“Carmen!” Yves practically screeches in my ear. “Rob’s going to the bar now.” He slides into a chair. “I’m going to rest my weary bunions.”
“Pillow princess.” I roll my eyes. “I hope Rob gives your ass a beating tonight.”
Yves laughs and waves me away. Tossing me a disdainful sneer, Rob walks over to the bar. I trail behind him like a piece of toilet paper stuck to his shoe.
“Drink,” he intones, issuing a command instead of asking me what’s my preferred poison.
I scowl. “Whiskey sour.”
We stand there without attempting the pretense of conversation, which is perfect for my roving eyes. The tall beauty’s still in the same spot, albeit sipping her drink, a clear-ish fluid that could either be vodka soda or a G&T. When her tongue brushes the straw, the visual zaps me right in the clit. Pretty sure I let a little moan slip; fortunately no one can hear me over this din.
“Wallis!” the bartender booms. The bass in his voice slices through the crowd’s drunken roar. He mimes taking a shot. “Cuervo?”
Whipping my head back in the beauty’s direction, I gauge her—Wallis’—reaction.
“Why not?” I murmur too quietly for Rob to hear, imagining Wallis asking it instead.
“Why not?” she says aloud, and I squeal like a fangirl spotting her favorite celeb at Comic Con.
Rob rubs his ears, affecting injury. “Is it your goal to make my eardrums bleed?”
I bite my tongue. Not even Yves’ grouchy other half can spoil my zesty spirits. One of the yummiest babes I’ve seen in a long time spoke my line aloud like she sprang from my head à la Athena spawned from Zeus…and now she’s headed my way.
“Here’s your bev.” Rob practically dumps it in my lap. “Next time you’re on your own.” He swirls away from the bar so fast I imagine him flapping a magician’s cape.
“Presto!” I raise my finger and point to the ceiling. “Change-o!”
“Where’s your hat, bunny?”
The speaker is none other than—gulp—Wallis. She halts in front of me, looks me over, and smacks her lips. “You know how to make the most of your figure.”
“As do you.”
She tips me a smirk and flicks those heart-stopping eyes in Rob’s direction. “Dad’s gonna be mad if you stay out too late.”
“Good thing he’s not my dad.”
Shrugging past the shorter men surrounding her, she calls over one elegantly cocked shoulder, “Don’t let the wicked stepmother dull your shine.”
Not sure who she’s referring to, but does it matter? She complimented me—dare I say flirted with me.
“Wait,” I whisper to her departing back. “You can’t just end it like that.”
But she does…and I don’t see her for the rest of the night, despite my best efforts to locate her. Not on the dance floor, not at the bar, not outside with the smokers or downstairs with the drag queens. I do a bathroom patrol every fifteen minutes, completely self-conscious about my stalkerish behavior, but seemingly unable or unwilling to move on from our brief encounter.
I flourish when curious, wilt when expectant.
“Carmen!” Yves grabs my arm, literally yanking me out of my melancholic self-reflective splendor. “It’s past midnight.”
“Are we skedaddling?” I ask, half relieved, half disappointed.
“We’re taking a shortcut.” He lowers his voice even though the bass is bumping so loud it’s probably changing our blood chemistry. “Rob’s ready to lay me down—”
“—in my linen and pearls. I’m his favorite girl.”
“A nod to Lana?” I pat his back. “Stefan would be proud.”
“Our mutual appreciation of good bops is the one thing your FWB and I have in common.”
“Can’t argue that point.”
After downing a tepid tumbler of water (thirst overrides temperature), I race to my IG page to see if Yumi’s left me a new message (or maybe liked one of my pics—a girl can dream). My anticipation falls flat on its face when I see no unread DM, no red heart waiting. I wonder what she’s doing right now. She might be sipping a Manhattan in Brooklyn and casting looks of cool disdain around the room. Who am I kidding? Yumi wouldn’t deign to reveal her judgment of others in a public setting. I wonder what she’d make of Wallis.
The thought is so casual I almost miss the seed it plants…but forty minutes later, while the sun’s still in hiding, I bolt out of bed and race to my laptop, jolted out of sound sleep to jot down my trident-bolt inspo. I feel plates shifting—it’s Teutonic; my writer’s block lifts.
If I weren’t so frantic to jot down my raw thoughts, I’d probably burst into tears of relief or pray to the stars to light my forward path, but instead I struggle with articulating the plot bunny. It’s a toss-up between college meet-cute and dark academia slow-burn romance. Ultimately I decide the hemming and hawing won’t help me a whit: I should just shut up the conflicting Carmens in my head and write already. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it doesn’t have to be clean, but damn it, it’s gotta be words on the page, which is more than I’ve managed to achieve for several months. Picking my WIP to bits with minor editing that does nothing to enhance the plot is a slow-form self-sabotage—no more of that malarkey. Time to dive/bungee/ragdoll in.
It’s been a couple years since I yeeted for a muse. This new one came on as strong as the others, but I feel shyer about putting her to paper. Wallis. Those heavy brows, sultry eyes…the way she held her cigarette, how she styled her hair. I honestly haven’t been this smitten since meeting Stefan (to be fair, he was never my muse—that’s Yumi’s job, though she has no idea of her role in my writerly fantasies).
Composition of the outline commences more slowly than I’d like. My fingers stumble over the keys as if they’re hungover. The crimson wave’s threatening to knock me off my surfboard, and there might be sharks circling beneath me, but I’m gonna ride it, damn it. Composing a brief character profile, I describe the way Wallis looked when I first saw her; then I throw her into a different setting for the hell of it. At a private art school, she’s a teacher—no, that’s too overdone; she’s a nude model for Yumi’s drawing class. Also overdone, but I’m gonna roll with it.
Yumi draws Wallis. There’s a spark. They exchange heated eye contact, but no words. Yumi takes her time drawing Wallis’ lithe body, lingering on her naturally curving hips, her chiseled thighs and concave belly. When her focus rests on Wallis’ intimate areas, she hesitates, uncertain. It’s just a body, she reminds herself. A beautiful one. Her heart thumps erratically as she sketches Wallis’ prominent—
I stop myself before describing Wallis’ intimate parts. It feels somehow wrong. Am I a mega perv? Now this wouldn’t have bothered me in the past, thinking of myself as a sexual deviant, because I knowingly and proudly am, but something about “going there” with Wallis stops me in my tracks…maybe because she’s trans, and I’m not sure what the protocol is for describing non-cis-gendered anatomy.
God, I need some sleep. I close the laptop; if I’m still curious in the morning, I’ll do a search for trans topics and see what comes up, maybe lurk on a few websites to determine the code of conduct/proper etiquette of this situation or abandon the project entirely.
“Calliope, my number one of the Nine Muses. Will you grace me with your presence again?” I murmur, then crash-land into my dreamscape.