Tis the season

Tis the season to start thinking about stuff like apples and pumpkins.  Accordingly, Glinda has been bringing apples home from the farmers’ market for a couple of weeks now, and a number of them were good cooking apples, so I thought “Hmmm… apple butter?”

I bought a bag of Granny Smiths to bulk up the farmers’ market haul and spent an hour peeling and chopping them. I had reached the very last cut on the very last apple when the phone rang, I jumped, moved my foot and kicked Peeb who was lying on it.  She squeaked, jumped up and ran over my other foot, and I sliced open my pinky finger. My life is one big sitcom.

I cooked the apples down for about 12 hours with a lot of spice and brown and white sugars.  The flavor is quite wonderful.  I got a little over two pints of butter out of it, but divided it up into three jars so I can freeze some.  Apparently blood is the secret ingredient.

So today it’s pumpkin butter.  I have pumpkin puree, brown sugar, ginger syrup, orange juice, pomegranate molasses and pumpkin pie spice blend bubbling away in the slow cooker.  We’ll see how that turns out.  So far it’s got a lot of zip, but still tastes like pumpkin which is a good thing.

I’m wanting to make potstickers tonight.  I was going to make scallion pancakes too, but I figure one new thing a day, right?  Besides, I have a lot of cleaning to do.  Cat boxes, bathroom, kitchen.  And I have cats to play with.  You know how that is.

I’d like to do some writing too. I have about a third of a YA novel in first draft form, and I actually know where it’s going.  I should follow up on that.  I just released a new ebook — Call Me But Love (You can read about it here: Persimmon Frost) — and I should keep up the pace.
It’s wicked hot here right now, but I’ve had the sense that fall is coming for a while now.  I suspect that from now until some time in April, We’ll be eating a lot of apples, pumpkins, root vegetables and fresh bread.  However right now I have an enormous haul of tomatoes to deal with.  It’s tomato tart one day next week, and a tomato salad for sure.  As soon as the San Marzanos are ripe, I’ll be roasting them for making pasta sauce this winter.
I really should pick up some more summer fruit to turn into jam before the season is over.

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Our studio needs your help!

Glinda and I are working to get our studio together but it’s currently a mish-mash of furniture that only barely works as studio storage/work space. Cloth, Paper, Scissors and Go-Organize.com are holding a contest for studio furniture and a package of CPS products.

 I’m not sure our sad little photo will win either prize but it can’t hurt to try, right?  Please go vote for us.  You can vote once a day.

https://facebook.upickem.net/engine/SubmissionWidget.aspx?PageType=VOTING&ContestID=97148&SubmissionID=41273928

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Release day: Call Me But Love

 

CallMeButLove_postcard_front_DSP

Today is release day for Call Me But Love!

Mercutio is a funny, moody, complex foil for Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but in the four stories presented here, each an independent tale, Mercutio’s love for his friend goes far deeper, always somehow entwined with the fates of Romeo and Juliet.

The first tale sets the trio back in Renaissance Verona, where Mercutio vies for Romeo’s love. Romeo is oblivious, but the love triangle has deadly consequences. Next, we find Romeo and Mercutio in Victorian England. Though Romeo knows Mercutio loves him and returns his passion, he struggles to fit his desires into the strict mores of the day. The third story takes us to post-WWII America, where war-weary Romeo, Juliet, and Mercutio long for the right to love whom they choose. The final story in the collection brings the three characters into contemporary times, a band on a road trip that will change their lives forever.
ISBN-13: 978-1-62798-014-2
Pages: 74
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Categories: Novellas, Contemporary, Americas, European, Tracy Rowan, Historical
Book Type: eBook   File Formats Available: .epub, .mobi, html, pdf

Oddly, they’ve chosen to excerpt the entire first story, so I will too.  Enjoy!

Act One:  His timeless end

Verona, 1320

 ROMEO is fortune’s master, of that there is no doubt. One day, pining for love of a woman who never even knew he existed, the next, wed in bliss to the daughter of his mortal enemy. He is golden, charmed. The sun shines at his pleasure. He can’t help but feel he should do something mad, something more enormous and daring, for he is certain he cannot fail today. He wants to share this feeling with his best friend, his brother, his…. No word describes how he feels about Mercutio, who is dearer to him than any brother, closer than any friend.

He finds his friend lying on the church steps, basking in the sun. Mercutio’s moss-green brocade doublet is discarded upon the worn stones, and his fine ivory lawn shirt is open almost to the waist. His skin is golden in the sun. Benvolio is with him, but sitting a little apart, fanning himself with his cap. Their eyes are shut against the relentless light.

“Mercutio!”

Mercutio shades his eyes and smiles up at Romeo. He is slow in the heat, languid, like a lizard sunning itself on a rock. His black hair is glossy with sweat that drips darkly upon the stone.

“Where did you fly off to last night?” he asks. “We looked for you before we left the party, didn’t we, Benvolio?”

Without opening his eyes, Benvolio nods.

“My life has….” Romeo gestures broadly as if on a stage. “…changed overnight, in an instant.”

“Then sit down and tell me.” Mercutio stretches. “It’s much too hot to jump about like that.” The dreamy languor in his eyes makes Romeo melt onto the step beside him, limbs splayed in unconscious reply to Mercutio’s sleepy abandon.

“I am married.” Romeo doesn’t miss the expressions playing across his friend’s angular face, but young as he is, he neither understands them nor cares that he doesn’t. “Last night, I beheld my destiny in the form of Capulet’s daughter. We spoke, I won her love and she mine, and we made a pact to meet with Friar Laurence, who has joined us in the most holy bonds of marriage. As with us, so too our families. There’s an end to the blood feud, and the start of great joy for a city too long torn apart by this foolish feud. Are you not happy for me? Are you not happy for us all?”

A moment passes before Mercutio replies. “Very,” he says. “May I be the first to congratulate you? But your choice may not be as easy to reconcile as you hope.”

His light-green eyes are unnervingly pale, his pupils like pinpoints.

“I’d leave the city with her,” Benvolio suggests. “For a time at least.” Benvolio is the careful one.

Romeo laughs. “There’s no life outside of Verona’s walls,” he insists. He picks up a pebble that he pitches at Benvolio, hitting him in the foot.

“Have it your way. You always do.”

“Hush,” Mercutio admonishes. “The boy is happy.”

At this, Benvolio opens his eyes, and he gazes at Mercutio with open curiosity. “And you, you’re happy for him?”

Mercutio shrugs. “This is the way of things, Benvolio. You know it as well as I. Now let us put our heads together and find a way to keep this boy’s madness from becoming a terrible mess.”

But before they can discuss the marriage, even before Romeo can say “We’ll simply tell our families and it’s done!”, they are approached by a small group of the Capulets, led by Tybalt, cousin to Romeo’s new wife. Romeo never liked Tybalt. Truth be told, he is jealous because Tybalt and Mercutio are… not friends, exactly, but something like it. In fact, Romeo doesn’t quite know what they are to each other. He has always felt a little left out, in spite of the fact that when they all are together, which is surprisingly often, all Mercutio and Tybalt ever seem to do is quarrel and snipe.

Mercutio smiles lazily up at Tybalt, whose handsome face is twisted with anger and the way he squints against the blaze of the sun. “Prince of Cats, what brings you out on a day so hot? I imagined you slumbering in the shade.”

There is no irony in the greeting, which is rare for Mercutio. The affection in his voice is genuine.

Tybalt starts to smile, but then he disciplines himself to scowl. “It’s not you I’ve come to see.”

“Yet see me you do.” Mercutio looks him up and down. “Your fur seems ruffled.”

“I shouldn’t be surprised since you consort with this dog of a Montague.”

Romeo doesn’t care for the sharpness in Tybalt’s voice, nor is he prepared to accept the insult without replying. He attempts to stand, but Mercutio flings an arm out and knocks him back down onto the hot stone.

“Cats and dogs, cats and dogs,” he singsongs. “Rat-catcher, your yowls and hisses do not please me today.” Though soft, Mercutio’s voice echoes that sharpness, and Romeo, who knows Mercutio’s body well, can see the tension in him. He is warning Tybalt.

Tybalt’s face darkens and he squares his shoulders and fingers the hilt of his sword. It’s a clumsy response. “My business is with Romeo, not you, sir.”

“Nevertheless, you have me.”

“Of course you would bark for him,” Tybalt snarls. “You always do.” At this, Romeo pushes Mercutio’s arm away and stands.

“I need no protection.” He does not like Tybalt, and today is his perfect day. He won’t have it ruined with a fight.

“I think you do, villain,” Tybalt says, his voice dropping almost to a purr.

Romeo measures his reply, knowing he must not give in to the instinct to draw his sword and settle this with blood. “I am no villain, nor do I feel any anger with you for saying so. Please be at peace. Soon you shall know all, and understand when I say I have reason to love you.”

His tone is a bit friendlier than he feels, but he’ll say whatever he must. It’s his day; things have to work out the way he wants them to.

Tybalt stares, mouth open. Come for a fight, he has received nothing but fair words from his enemy. His fingers grow white upon the hilt of his sword. He wants to draw, but something stays his hand.

“Mercutio, let’s go somewhere quieter to talk.” Romeo tugs Mercutio’s sleeve, but Mercutio doesn’t budge. He’s watching Tybalt watch Romeo, and it makes Romeo uneasy. He doesn’t understand the currents swirling around him. He hates not understanding.

“Don’t do it,” Mercutio says quietly, and Tybalt’s eyes widen.

“Who are you to give me orders, you… commodity?”

The answer is the soft slide of metal as Mercutio’s sword is drawn. “And who are you to judge anyone, Rat-catcher? You need to go down on your knees and beg God to forgive your arrogance, for I will not.”

Tybalt hesitates, more shocked than angry. Mercutio’s challenge has taken him aback.

In this moment, Romeo approaches Tybalt. “Cousin—for that’s what I may call you now, sweet cousin—I have glad news.”

He wants to defuse this moment and avoid a fight. He does not want this joy of his turned to resentment. He does not want to see his friend fight this man. Romeo senses resentment roiling around Tybalt like dust in a sirocco, and he is trying to find a way to dampen his anger.

Tybalt straightens his shoulders, shoves Romeo away, and stalks off, followed by the rest of the Capulets. Halfway across the plaza, he turns and shouts, “You and I, boy, you and I have a reckoning coming,” and gives his fawn-colored doublet an angry tug.

Romeo, unable to let the moment go, pursues him. “Your cousin Julietta and I are made one by the church. She is my wife, and there is reason for gladness and reconciliation where there was formerly anger and division. Let your heart be joyful for us, and for the end of this feud, which has ruined so many lives.”

He leans in and kisses Tybalt’s cheek. It’s hot with anger and the heat of the day, yet a chill rolls off the man and Romeo shivers a little.

He has the unpleasant feeling that he’s been hasty in delivering his news so baldly, so Romeo retreats to where Mercutio and Benvolio stand. He can hear the sounds of laughter and outrage mingling all around. “We should go now,” he says as Mercutio’s eyes widen.

Romeo turns, his sword half drawn, for amid the laughter and the cries of anger, he has heard also the slide of steel. Tybalt rushes him, sword in hand and murder in his eyes. “Hide behind your erastes or fight like a man, yet still I will cut you down today, Montague, and you will never plague me or mine again!”

Romeo cannot free his sword in time. Tybalt will kill him there on the church steps, and his bride will be a widow before she is ever a wife.

But as Tybalt lunges, Romeo is flung aside. When he picks himself up, the square is silent, and Tybalt and Mercutio are staring at each other. Tybalt is shaking his head, and Mercutio is clutching the blade of Tybalt’s sword, the blade that was driven into Mercutio’s chest. In the silence and heat, blood blossoms on Mercutio’s shirt.

The moment breaks like a storm over the plaza. The Capulets grab Tybalt and drag him away from the steps as Mercutio falls into Benvolio’s arms. Romeo rushes to them. “Mercutio?”

“Why did you tell him?” Mercutio asks in a ragged voice. Blood flowers turn the ivory lawn of his shirt crimson. Red streams run shining on the stone steps beneath him.

“I thought it for the best.” The sound Mercutio makes is something like a laugh, something like a groan. “Is the hurt a bad one? Someone fetch a surgeon!” Romeo shouts, and he hears an unearthly cry of pain that doesn’t come from Mercutio at all, but from the one who cut him down. Mercutio’s life is flowing away, and it’s Tybalt who is suffering.

“It’s a scratch. He’s a terrible swordsman. Romeo….”

“Yes?”

“You know I love you, don’t you?”

“As I love you,” Romeo replies.

Mercutio closes his eyes and smiles. “No, not like that at all.”

Suddenly Tybalt is there, pushing Benvolio aside, falling onto the steps, and shoving Romeo away from Mercutio, whom he lifts and cradles tenderly in his arms. “Forgive me,” he is saying through his tears. “Forgive me, my heart.” He says it to a dead man.

Where the rage comes from, Romeo will never know, but he draws his sword now with cold intent and moves toward Tybalt, who looks up, handsome face mangled by sorrow. In a moment, Tybalt is not only impaled on Romeo’s sword but has likewise impaled Romeo. They stare at each other over the body of their lover until Tybalt’s eyes lose their focus and go glassy. He falls backward onto the steps and is still. Only then does Romeo fall, life seeping out through his fingers, his future fading along with his past.

There will be no reconciliation, no joining of the houses. There will be no wedding night, no children, no old age and honor. He is going to die here in the square with no one but Benvolio and a crowd of Capulets to see him off.

I am fortune’s fool, he thinks as he pulls himself over to Mercutio’s body and rests his head on his friend’s shoulder. For a moment the whole of this tragedy becomes clear, but then the sun grows cold.

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Variations on a Theme by Will Shakespeare

Theme and variation. Take a musical line — your own or someone else’s — and explore variations on it.  Change the harmonies, add voices, make it faster and brighter or slower and sadder. Embellish the musical line or strip it down to its barest essentials.  Mozart wrote a great number of variations on themes, and one of the most justifiably famous of J. S. Bach’s works is the Goldberg Variations, a series of thirty variations on an aria which is stated at the beginning of the piece and restated at the end.

Theme and variation exists in the visual arts — think Warhol’s soup cans or found object art — but it’s never gotten a lot of traction in literature except, oddly enough, within fandom where the form  “(x-number) things that never happened to (character)” is popular.  For example: “Three Things That Never Happened to Ironman” might be a trio of stories about 1) How Tony Stark actually died in that cave and all his subsequent adventures happened in his head in the few seconds before his death. 2) How Tony Stark and Bruce Banner went from bromance to romance. 3) How Tony Stark learned humility.  The beauty of the “never happened” part is that while the reader knows this isn’t canon, it can be a compelling and believable variation on canon.

I love this form and one of the stories I wrote in it — Five Things That Never Happened to Ennis Del Mar — is, I believe, some of my best work.  Lately I’ve been working on a novel-length X-things about a character from Dickens.  And I was mightily tempted by the possibilities inherent in the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, or, more specifically, Romeo and Mercutio, the brilliant, charismatic character who very nearly steals the entire play away from R&J.  If you squint just a bit, you may just see Mercutio as Romeo’s true love.

As I read it, the text of the play can support the interpretation that Mercutio is in love with Romeo and that he resents Romeo’s amours. Mercutio is good at sniping and sarcasm, and he constantly aims it at Romeo and his love for Rosaline and Juliet. Interestingly at one point, Romeo observes “He jests at scars that never felt a wound,” suggesting that Romeo thinks Mercutio has never been in love.  I think he’s dead wrong.  I think Mercutio is one big, ragged wound.

With this in mind, I wrote a series of four short stories that have been collected under the title of “Call Me But Love” from the line in the play: “Call me but love and I’ll be new baptized. Henceforth I never will be Romeo.”  I chose it because it spoke to my belief that no one can have an honest life if they’re forced to deny who they love.  Each story takes us a few steps further along the social continuum towards an acceptance of same-sex love from Renaissance Verona, through Victorian England and post-WWII America, to contemporary Los Angeles.

Tomorrow I’m guest blogging about Call Me But Love with P. D. Singer, and will talk more about my inspirations for the story.  Please join me.  (Link will work on Tuesday, 8/27/13)  You can pre-order CMBL at Dreamspinner Press or buy it outright on Wednesday, August 28th.

Until then, here’s my favorite example of the musical form: Thomas Tallis’ Why Fum’th in Fight, and Ralph Vaughn Williams’ variations of that tune, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis>.  Enjoy!

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We suck

Glinda’s sister started reading this blog and made the comment that it was more like “That One Nice Girl Next Door.”  I laughed, Glinda made grumpy face.

Alas, in the last month we’ve both been remiss about posting here making it more apt to say there are no nice girls next door.  I could chalk it up to feeling sad about having missed Elmo’s escape from the cocoon and his subsequent disappearance (They never call, they never write…) or work, or getting ready for, having, and cleaning up after house guests, but honestly it comes down to dragging our feet over doing much of anything these days.  There are weeds growing out of the cracks between the pavers on the patio and mostly I find myself hoping that they’ll put out some kind of cute flower so I can convince myself that it’s a lovely, natural, casual look.  And in fact in a few cases, that’s exactly what happened.  The Marguerites from our sun pot apparently self-sowed and we have little clusters of flowers along the edge of the patio, proving yet again that nature will find a way.  We may extinguish ourselves and a great many other species in the process but we will never defeat nature.

We finally managed to get rid of the furniture we no longer needed.  There was a queen-size sleeper sofa, a big armchair and ottoman, two big old tube TVs with a stand, and a lot of miscellaneous stuff.  People kept saying “Oh yes, I want (whatever)” and then never coming through so I called Charles and within an hour two of his guys came by and took everything but the armchair, which ended up in the alley for about 12 hours, and then scavengers picked it up.  I keep telling you all I don’t know what I’d do without Charles and there are hundreds of good reasons for that, not the least of which is I adore him; he’s one of my best friends.

So… house guests.  We haz them.  Or had them.  Our dear friend, Taylor, came to visit last week.  She now lives in New Jersey, but she and her brother (who lives in Tennessee) came to Illinois to visit their sister who lives out near Aurora.  She couldn’t leave the area without hanging with us, so she and Mike spent several days here.  Alas, Taylor had injured her back while visiting her sister, so she and Glinda made a few trips to the chiropractor, and I had to work. We still managed to have a good time together, and were reminded all over again of how much we miss  Taylor.  If we win the lottery, we’re bringing her and her hubs (who we also both love) back to Chicago to live on our block.

Poor Mike, stuck in a gaggle of fangirls who were actively fangirling Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt, spent a lot of time with his books, cigarettes and chocolate milk.  Because we live near a heavily Italian part of town he was able to score a couple of gallon jugs of hot giardiniera to take home with him.

When we asked Mike if he’d help us bring the boxes holding  the big craft cabinet from WorkBox that I’d won last year to the basement from the garage where they’d been languishing since last summer, we never expected that he would turn into a Zen Mike Holmes and put the thing together in one day.  Doesn’t it look fab?  He said he didn’t mind, that he enjoyed it.  It’s like meditation for him. Bless him, that would have taken us forever. My poor attempt at a thank you gift was a quart of homemade chocolate syrup.

Mike was only sort of kidding when he said that we still had the hard part to do, which was assembling the inside, a jumble of HUNDREDS of plastic clips, fiber board shelves, and fabric drawers.  We’ve worked on this thing for two days and so far this is as far as we’ve gotten. There weren’t enough shelves for the little drawers, a number of the ones that were in there pull right out again when you pull out the drawer, and getting the clips in, keeping them in and keeping them from sliding all over when you try to put the shelves in is, um… challenging.  Still, if we’d been left to our own devices, this thing would have taken forever to be built, in spite of the kind offer of help from our friend, Barbara.  We’ve decided to use this for jewelry-making supplies and tools since that’s what I have most of and what we both like to do.

Because of this, we’re really getting a start on arranging the rest of the basement.  We’ve planned out work stations and, little-by-little, we’re moving all the supplies and tools around.  There’s a trip or two to Ikea in our future, too.

Mike also took a lot of photos while he was here.  Here are some he took of the kittehs

Perfect Tommy

Buckaroo, aka Mr. Moon

Peebie

Leo’s evil twin

I  can’t promise we’ll be clockwork bloggers from now on; I’m spang in the middle of my quarterly calls, and have a bunch of things I’ve promised to sell for friends.  Glinda’s job is kicking her butt, and there is SO much to do around here.  But we haven’t forgotten you.  Honest.

The fall catalogs are starting to arrive, including the Grandin Road Halloween catalog, and that means summer is coming to an end.  Enjoy what’s left of it.  CU later.

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New release: Call Me But Love

CallMeButLove_postcard_front_DSPI’ve finally revamped my author site (Can you believe it?  I had “The Vampyre’s Revenge” listed as “coming soon.”) mostly because I have a new ebook due out from Dreamspinner Press on the 28th of August.  It’s entitled “Call Me But Love” and it’s four separate but entangled views of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” with the relationship between Romeo and Mercutio the central focus of each story.  From the Dreamspinner website:

Mercutio is a funny, moody, complex foil for Romeo in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, but in the four stories presented here, each an independent tale, Mercutio’s love for his friend goes far deeper, always somehow entwined with the fates of Romeo and Juliet. 

The first tale sets the trio back in Renaissance Verona, where Mercutio vies for Romeo’s love. Romeo is oblivious, but the love triangle has deadly consequences. Next, we find Romeo and Mercutio in Victorian England. Though Romeo knows Mercutio loves him and returns his passion, he struggles to fit his desires into the strict mores of the day. The third story takes us to post-WWII America, where war-weary Romeo, Juliet, and Mercutio long for the right to love whom they choose. The final story in the collection brings the three characters into contemporary times, a band on a road trip that will change their lives forever.

I chose the title from the balcony scene where Juliet, musing on the irony of loving an enemy says:  “Romeo, doff thy name,/ And for that name, which is no part of thee/ Take all myself.

Romeo replies, saying: “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized./ Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

Love has changed him and he will change for love. This is the thread that follows him throughout the four stories in this collection; Romeo must decide to brave everything, to change, to become a different person in order to love whom he will. In each story he moves a little closer to being able to become the person he wants to be. The path isn’t always smooth or simple. Here’s an excerpt from the second story, “Give Me a Case to Put My Visage In”:

“What are you thinking, Montague?” David Mercutio, Lord Ackham, appeared at Romeo’s side, peering out from behind a red and gold Venetian Scaramouche mask. He was wildly out of place in a room filled with ladies and gentlemen waltzing in their formal attire.

“Why are you wearing that?”

“I found it in the garden. I am of the opinion there was some naughtiness occurring out there earlier.”

“And I am of the opinion you are eccentric and difficult. Take off the mask, and look at that girl over there in the silver-gray gown, the one with your brother. What do you think of her?”

Mercutio shoved the mask upward. The long golden nose made him look like a demented unicorn. “Capulet’s daughter? Pretty enough, not much of a dancer.”

“Really? Lord Valentine just danced with her.”

“My brother is a terrible dancer too. He wouldn’t know the difference.”
“I’m thinking of wooing her.”

Mercutio was gleefully shocked. “Madman! Scandal!”

“No, really. It makes good sense. The feuding has to end sometime, doesn’t it?”

“And how will you do that, Montague? How will you win her father’s consent?”
“By winning the girl, of course. She’s his only child. He almost certainly dotes on his little girl.”

Mercutio nodded thoughtfully. “You make a good point. Perhaps I should marry her and use those earrings to pay my gambling debts.”

Romeo rolled his eyes. “She wouldn’t have you; your reputation is foul.”
Mercutio clutched at his chest. “Harsh words. I am a marquess after all, dear boy. Reputation notwithstanding, my title rather trumps your bank, don’t you think?”

Romeo was annoyed but refused to show it. He was frustrated because his family remained without a single title in spite of owning a successful banking concern and their long-time support of the crown.

“I suppose we’ll see if you decide to woo her, which we both know you won’t.”

“She’ll not have you either.” Mercutio pulled the mask back down over his face.

“I think she will.”

“Shall we wager on it?” Mercutio’s sardonic mouth twisted into a smile beneath the appalling gilded visage of Scaramouche.

“All right, then, what shall we wager? You have no money.”

“If you win the maid’s heart I will….” Mercutio stared upward for a moment or two. “I will speak to my father and suggest that it is past time the Montague family is recognized for its service to the country. Harold Montague OBE has a nice ring to it.”

“So does Romeo Montague OBE.”

“And what have you done for the country, you little upstart?”

Romeo conceded it was a bit early to look for his own honors, but one for his father would be a leg up into the nobility. “Well, what about Sir Harold?”
“I will do what I can. More I cannot promise.”

“I accept.”

“Not so fast. Your wager is not yet on the table.”

Romeo possessed the coin that would bind the wager. It was the one thing Mercutio had wanted from him since they’d met. “You shall have the thing you want most from me,” he promised coyly.

Mercutio tipped his head. “How if I say I am no longer interested?”

Romeo shrugged and looked back at the Capulet girl who was laughing at something. Who had made her laugh? He’d have to get her away from the other men to pursue his plan. “I’ll woo her, wager or no. It matters not to me. And then….” He turned back to Mercutio. “Should I win the wager, what do you lose?”

“All right, then, done. For such a pretty boy, you have the personality of a wasp.”

Remember, release date is August 28th.  Cover by Reese Dante.  Let me know what you think of “Call Me But Love.”

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