J. Scott Coatsworth has a new MM romance/LGBTQ short story collection out: Love & Limitations.
Love & Limitations is Scott's fourth short story collection and his first one featuring his contemporary MM and LGBTQ+ stories:
- I Only Want to Be With You: Derrek likes Ryan. Ryan likes Alex. Alex treats Ryan like trash. So why can't he see who really loves him?
- The Boy in the Band: It's hard for a trans kid in high school, just like it was for a gay kid two decades before. Can Ryan and Justin find common ground in time?
- Translation: Dominic has a thing for Italian guys, especially his boss, Dante. His roommate Enrico has a thing for him. No matter how this ends, someone is going to get hurt.
- Slow Thaw: As the Antarctic warms, so does the chilly relationship between scientist Javier Fernandez and new arrival—and trans man—Col Steele as they contend with a disaster on the ice.
- Ten: After the death of his husband, Chris faces a gay mid-life crisis—at thirty-five—as he jumps back into the dating scene for ten dates in ten days.
This is the first time these stories have been collected in one place, and the first publication of “The Boy in the Band.”
Warnings: Bullying, suicidal ideation and attempt, past physical abuse, deadnaming
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Sundays were the worst.
Those lazy, quiet mornings, sitting in the big bay window seat across from Ari with our legs entwined.
That happy time was long gone.
Instead, I was waiting out on the sidewalk, leaning up against the railing of the MARRS Building boardwalk. The wind blew chill, going right through my windbreaker, and the sky was slate gray. It never snowed in Sacramento, but it sure seemed to be trying.
I stuffed my hands into my jacket pockets, wishing I had a pair of mittens. As an Arizona boy, I wasn’t used to the cold, even Sacramento cold.
I stood at the corner of 20th and K in the heart of gay Sacramento, waiting for a guy named Bryan. Spelled with a “Y”, of course. We gays are nothing if not predictable.
Christmas music played from speakers in the eaves of the building behind me.
My husband Ari had passed away on New Year’s Eve the previous year. He’d been hit by a street-racing Mercedes when we were crossing J Street, and it had been twelve agonizing days in the hospital before he took his last breath.
Three seconds. That’s how far behind him I was, checking something on Facebook. I didn’t even remember what it was.
Three goddamned seconds.
After a year of being alone, of beating myself up for those three seconds, I’d finally decided that it was time to start dating again. Ari was gone, and nothing would bring him back. He would want me to go on.
Still, my heart wasn’t in it.
My mother was sick with worry. Every day I got a call or a text or an email asking if I was okay.
Ari would want me to have someone again.
I was thirty-five, and all alone.
I’d challenged myself to go on ten dates in ten days—maybe I’d find someone new. If not, at least I’d have a reason to be alone.
And so, Bryan.
He was twenty-five, hung, and had no head, at least if his Grindr profile was to be believed.
What was it about gay guys and their abs?
Then again, I’d swiped right when I saw that gorgeous chest, so I guess I’m part of the problem.
Grindr photos never lie, right?
Bryan arrived on time — a point in his favor — and he was young and beautiful. Blond, blue eyed, and yes, all of twenty-five. I laughed under my breath. I had underwear older than he was.
I’m no slouch at 5’11”, but he was taller than me.
Ari had been just my height, with black hair and dark brown eyes. Medium, dark, and handsome.
Bryan and I hugged and headed down to Pizzeria Urbano. We grabbed a couple slices and took them outside to the patio. Lavender Heights was quiet today—the cold weather, most likely—and the people-watching was practically non-existent.
“You look just like your photo,” Bryan said between bites, flashing me a big white perfectly aligned smile. No one had natural teeth that straight, or that white. “What are you, like forty?”
Little shit. “Um, thirty-five,” I replied. “And you have a head.”
“What? Oh yeah, the Grindr thing.” He grinned again, and I had to shield my eyes. “I don’t want my parents finding me on there.”
That surprised me. “You’re in the closet? I thought your generation was past all of that.”
“Nah, I just don’t want them in my business. It’s bad enough I have to follow all the ‘house rules.’ But hey, I like dating older guys.”
Ouch again. And he lived at home.
But damn, he was cute.
I tried to get us back on track. “So what do you do?”
“I’m a personal trainer.” He eyed his pizza. “I hardly ever eat this shit.”
Of course you are. “Yeah? Where?”
“At Lord’s Gym in South Sac.” He poked me in my less than perfectly flat stomach. “Hey, I can get you back in shape—you eat pizza and carbs like this all the time, right? Come in some time and I’ll hook you up.” He finished his slice, licking his fingers.
“Suuuuure.” I mentally added a new Grindr rule—from now on, any swipe-rights had to have a head.
Bryan was totally wrong for me. Too young, too athletic, not too bright, and he had all the manners of an untrained puppy.
“Wanna go back to my place?” he said, panting.
Oh my God, that tongue.
Ari wouldn’t mind.
What the fuck are you waiting for? Ari whispered in my ear. He’s hot.
I laughed. Of course it wasn’t him. But it’s exactly what he would have said, given the current situation, and if Ari wanted me to … “Sure.”
Bryan took my hand and led me back to his place, just a couple blocks away.
The next day, I started an Evernote to keep track and rate my dates. I don’t usually sleep and tell, but I gave Bryan a four and a half for date-ability, and a ten in bed.
Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.
He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.
A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is the committee chair for the Indie Authors Committee at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).
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