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I decided to make this post about Fen, since really he’s the only reason Impractical Magic existed in the first place at…
I’d been finished with Newton’s Laws of Attraction for a little while and I’d never planned to do anything with that other than let it be a freestanding novella. But then there was Fen. I couldn’t quite let him go! He was awkward and a smart-ass, a self-professed nerd, and an amazing best friend. I’d hinted in Newton’s Laws that he might be attracted to men, but until I decided I wasn’t done with him yet, I wasn’t sure I was going to go anywhere with it.
I decided to, obviously:)
Here’s a little taste of pure Fen. He’s upset that his best friend ditched him (and ran away from his man troubles) for a temporary job in L.A. And tries to hide it with his usual brand of teasing and sarcasm:
“B, I know you’re off adventuring in the big bad city or whatever, but why is it you can’t come home to visit more often? Can’t you at least come for the Fourth of July? It’s tradition.” Fenton Keene, or Fen to anyone who wasn’t his student and didn’t want to get kneed in the balls, was still mad. Ben, his best friend in the whole world, had freaking ditched him for an entire year to go live out his dreams of spreading art to the masses or some kind of bullshit like that. Yeah, it was Ben’s dream, and it might be selfish of him, but Fen hated it.
“I miss you,” he added. That didn’t sound remotely pathetic. Right?
It had been weird since Ben left, two whole weeks of weird since the last day of the school year and that sad, awkward good-bye dinner they’d thrown him with the other teachers. Weird, yes, and empty and boring and not to Fen’s liking one little bit. Sure, Ben had always had his own place, and Fen had lived alone since he’d moved out to California from Michigan, but they’d spent so much time together in previous summers that they might as well have been roommates. The quiet in Fen’s apartment was deafening.
Ben had the nerve to laugh. Laugh. Fen would’ve been mad at him for mocking, but Ben’s laugh sounded off. Sad. Fen had a pretty good idea why. “You know I’d fly home every weekend if I could afford to, Fenster. Things are great here, but LA’s too hot.”
Chico was hot in the summer too. Hell, from what Fen had been seeing on the news, there wasn’t much relief from the swelter anywhere up and or down the West Coast. Fen was pretty sure that wasn’t why he didn’t like it. So Ben was lying. Lying about his lack of happiness and why he was planning to avoid home even on his breaks from his shiny new glamorous job. He had the money for plane tickets. He was just being a chicken.
“You don’t sound happy, man.” It was an attempt. Not a good one apparently.
Ben made a grumpy noise. “Fen….”
“Sorry,” Fen mumbled. Maybe if you talked to your boyfriend instead of being a stubborn ass, you wouldn’t sound like someone killed your cat, your dog, and maybe even your grandma.
When it came to the guy Fen needed to make him happy and pull him out of his funk, I knew he had to be sweet and funny, independent but maybe a little helpless to bring out Fen’s caretaker gene, and definitely have the experience to show Fen that his passing thoughts about men could be a whole lot more. In walks Kevin…
“You mind if I sit here?”
Fen sat up at the sound of a low, smooth voice. He was disoriented for a second, sweating from the heat of the day but blind, stuck in muted gray. Then he remembered putting his T-shirt over his face when he felt it getting burned earlier. He dragged the fabric down and squinted at the sudden, overwhelming sunlight. A broad-shouldered dark blotch grew sharper by the second.
“Um, no. It’s fine,” he mumbled. He’d sat his book and his iPod on the deck chair next to him. He reached out and fumbled for them until a warm, calloused hand slid both items into his. “Thanks.”
The guy’s laugh was as low and sweet as his voice. “You okay?”
“Just a bit sun blind and I don’t have my contacts in so you pretty much look like a dark blurry mountain.”
“Uh, thanks, I think.” Another chuckle. And Fen wasn’t usually one to react to things strongly, but damn if that chuckle didn’t send a whole flock of shivers flying up his spine.
This guy has to be new.
Fen had been at the pool all morning. Hell, he’d been at the pool most days that week and in the building for over two years. He’d know if he’d heard a voice like that before. Especially with the way his body seemed to react to it.
Fen blinked at the hand that seemed to materialize out of nowhere right in front of his chest, which was still mournfully pale and freckling more than tanning. “I’m Kevin. Just moved into the building a few days ago.”
So he is new. Summer just got a bit more interesting. Fen checked himself. Wait, why did I think that?
He grasped Kevin’s big, long-fingered hand with his, a bit cautiously. “Fenton, but everyone calls me Fen.”
There were the shivers again. What the hell? He had to see this guy. But wait. That meant…. Fen wanted to groan.
The combination of the over-chlorinated pool and his contacts had made his eyes itch, so he’d simply slung his nerdy glasses on when he’d left for the pool earlier. Now he had to put them back on or else he’d stay in Blind City. But first he had to find the damn things. Fen swept his hands along the ground until he found his glasses. He shoved them on his face and stood so he wasn’t looking up at Mister Shivers from his back. Of course when he stood, it was on his tube of sunscreen, which then proceeded to squirt all over his other leg. He screamed and jumped like a little girl, and then wished he could disappear into the pool and never return.
Kevin chuckled. “You okay?”
“Other than being terminally awkward? Yes, I’m fine.” Fen wiped desperately at the thick spooge of lotion that had made its way all up the inside of his thigh and under his shorts. What a fantastic first impression he made.
“I like your glasses. They make you look smart.”
Fen decided the guy must be fucking with him. He looked up and just about choked. And they make you look like…. Dammmmnnnn.
Earlier shivers be damned. His whole body melted when Fen finally got a good long look at this not-so-mysterious new guy. Yeah. Damn was pretty much the only word his brain had room for. Tall, at least compared to Fen, with dark brown hair that curled up at the ends, big brown eyes, gorgeous smile, golden tanned skin, and his body… fuck. He looked young, probably not much out of the jailbait range, but Fen had to stop himself from drooling visibly. He was already drooling like a damn St. Bernard inside.
What follows is a bit of a coming of age story, even if Fen is thirty and not fifteen. He has to learn how to really be in love for the first time, deal with real attraction and not just the vague warmth he’s felt for the other people he dated, and decide how much Kevin and the life he could have with him is worth changing everything he’s ever known.
I had a great time writing Fen’s sarcasm, and his honest affection with his best friend and “platonic life partner” Ben. It almost felt like I was watching him grow up and find love with Kevin as the story unfolded. I have to say I’m going to miss him!
Thanks for having me stop by:) I’ll include links to my website/blog below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I grew up, and still live, in sunny Washington state and while I love to visit other places, I can’t imagine calling anywhere else home.
I spent my childhood writing stories. Sometime in my early teens, the stories turned to romance. Most of those were about me, my friends, and our favorite tv stars. Hopefully, I’ve come a long way since then…
Right now, I have four books published through Republica Press (click on the link to visit their site), but I’m constantly working on new projects.
When I’m not writing, I love to play the piano and cook and paint pictures…and of course read. It’s nearly impossible to work on my own writing when I’ve gotten myself hooked into a great new book:) I like sparkly girly girl things, own at least twenty different colored headbands, and I have a little white dog with a ginger eye spot who sits with me when I write. Sometimes she comes up with ideas for me too…when she’s not napping.
ABOUT THE BOOK: