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Warning: stories are intended for 18+


Short Story with Mal and Anne from The Stage Dive Series

“I’ll be taking all of these, thank you, ma’am.”

The redheaded fox behind the counter sized up my stack of books, a pen tapping against her pretty pink lips. “That’s a lot of books.”

“I don’t like to do things by halves. Not my style.”


“Read much yourself?” I asked, setting an elbow on the counter and leaning in. Just getting comfortable. Also, it gave me a great line of sight for checking out the curves beneath her staid black dress. Very nice. Then again, everything about her was.

With a cute little line between her brows, the babe looked at our surroundings. “I work in a bookstore.”

“Right. Sure.”

“There seems to be a theme going on here.” She inspected my selection. “The Kama Sutra. The Joy of Sex. Sex: How to do Everything. The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex. Guide to Getting It On. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amazing Sex. Did you just empty out our sex section?”

I grinned. “Yeah.”

“In need of some help in certain areas, huh?”

“No!” I scowled. Why the nerve of her. “Absolutely not. I’ll have you know, Miss, that I am very much experienced in the carnal secrets and delights of the bedroom. And various other rooms of the house, as required.”

She delicately wrinkled her nose.

“I am,” I insisted.

“Whatever you say, Sir.”

“Why, I’ll have you know a number of young ladies have informed me I should pen a book on the subject. One even insisted that I owed it to the world to do so.”

She frowned at my collection. “So you’re surveying the existing literature to see what’s already out there?”

“Exactly!” I nodded, pleased that she’d seen straightaway what was going on. “Great minds think alike, and it’s possible some of my less outrageous inventions might already have been stumbled upon by some sex aficionado from an earlier age. Unlikely, but possible.”

She seemed to hiccup in response, as if clamping down on a cough.

I detected a hint of skepticism. “Indeed, the fact is…”

This time, her brows rose. Waiting.

“I’m too much for most women.” I puffed out my chest with pride. All of those hours spent sweating my ass off in the gym ought to be good for something. “It’s sad really. A burden of mine.”

“Are you talking about size?”

I nodded. It was the plain God’s honest truth.

“Ego, or…” She jerked her chin in the direction of my crotch.

“Are you calling me arrogant?”

“I don’t recall mentioning that word exactly.”

I tilted my head. “Perhaps you think I’m lying?”

“Perhaps I’m not thinking anything about you at all.”

“Impossible.” I scoffed, flinging back my long blonde hair. Such golden waves of awesomeness combined with rugged good looks. Oh, she could pretend otherwise, but I know she got off on it care of the dilation of her pupils. Women loved me. Some dudes too. When you were this hot, it just couldn’t be helped. “Who could ignore all of this goodness?”

She just blinked.

I countered by batting my eyelashes at her. Some say my eyes are my best feature. Cerulean blue. Like a pristine lagoon in the Pacific or something like that. I don’t know. It usually worked, but this chick was being difficult.

“Did you just bat your eyelashes at me?” she asked, curious.

“No.” I flexed a bicep. Thank fuck it’d been warm enough to wear a t-shirt. The cooler months in Portland made it hard to show off my wondrous body. And seriously, why go to all of the afore mentioned trouble (gym, sweating, pain, etcetera) if not to share it. Why, it’d just be selfish to keep this all to myself.

She squinted. “Why is your arm doing that? Do you have a tic? You know, they probably have medication for that. There’s a chemist down–”

“I don’t have a tic. I’m just very muscular.”

“Right,” she soothed. “Okay. Got it.”

Thank God the shop was empty. The woman was shredding me. And to think I’d been so sure this redhead in particular would fall for my wiles. No, that was quitter’s talk. Sooner or later, with her full enthusiastic consent of course, she would be mine. Probably. I mean…given my track record, the odds were quite good. People had always said that my self-belief was one of my defining attributes. I could not allow her to shake my faith in my delectability. Not happening.

“So, you live around here?” I asked, giving her my best teasing hint of a smile.

Her brows descended. They were so expressive. “Are you coming onto me?”

“What? No.”

“This is outrageous. I’m at work, sir!”

“And I respect that totally. You look very authoritative standing behind that counter. Like a hot naughty librarian.” I grinned again. Only if anything, she looked even more pissed. “Wait, no…ma’am. I mean, like a wizard of words, sharing her bookish knowledge with the world. Yeah. That.”

On a scale of appeased, she rated maybe a five-percent, at best. Shit.

“Why I think that helping people find literature is a wonderful calling,” I continued. “Spreading wisdom far and wide, helping people to expand their minds. I respect you for it big time.”

In lieu of answering, she started tallying up my purchase. Her long sensual fingers stabbing at the buttons as she added up the figures. Such violent motions made her breasts jiggle beneath her dress in a thoroughly beguiling manner. Had the girl not worn a bra? I bet she hadn’t. How awesome.

“You’re ogling me,” my lovely one sniped. “Stop it, please. You’re making me feel uncomfortable.”

“Like in a hot and flushed, turned on kind of way?”

Her mouth formed a perfect o.

“Will you at least tell me your name?”

Her pert nose rose high up in the air. “No.”

“Oh come on. I’ll tell you mine. It’s–”

“Sir, I do not care to know your name.”

“That’s so hot how you call me ‘Sir.’ Do you do that in the bedroom too?”

She gasped.

“Sorry. Just curious.” I tried to look apologetic. But honestly, it wasn’t an emotion I ascribed to in general.

Eyes wide, she just stared. “Why, I’ve never met such an ill-behaved rogue in my entire life. You, sir, are cocky. That’s what you are. And I mean it as no compliment.”

I got in closer. “Did you just say you wanted to see my cock?”

“I bet it’s as small and insignificant as your manners.”

“Is that a yes?”

“No,” she hissed. Then she suddenly seemed to change her mind, her pretty face returning to stern. So hot. “Actually, yes. If only to witness firsthand on behalf of all womankind how inadequate you truly are.”

“Excellent!” I rubbed my hands together. This was exactly how I’d imagined her falling into my arms demanding sexual pleasure. Well, mostly it was.

The woman tapped her foot loudly. “I’m waiting.”

I inspected our surroundings. It was your usual hipster bookshop. Beyond the large plate glass windows, a steady stream of people passed by. Normal for this hour of the day in the Pearl District of Portland. Not exactly the place to whip your dick out unless you wanted the police to come calling.

“I can hardly just get it out right here.”

“Why not?”

“Well, if you must know, my penis is not only unusually large and beautiful. But I’m sort of famous.” I shrugged. “A rock star, actually. Thought you might have recognized me by now, but obviously not.”

She yawned.

“If I get my dick out right here, we’ll have a riot on our hands.”

“I doubt it.”

“Doubt away, but it’s still the truth.” Hands on hips, I faced her down. “I’m sorry, miss. For your and my safety, along with the well-being of all the books in this fine establishment, we’re going to have to take this into the back room.”

With a toss of her shiny red hair, she nodded. “Fine. Whatever.”

“Glad you’re being sensible about this.”

The woman strode out from behind the counter, crossing the shop floor, and flicking the lock on the door. Now we were getting somewhere. It was hard to keep the smirk off my face. I looked really good smirking. “Sure you don’t want to tell me your name?”

“Nope and I don’t need to know yours either. This way…”

I followed her out back to a storage room, mesmerized by the sway of her curvy ass beneath the skirt of her dress. She really was my perfect woman. If only she’d admit it. Though there was a certain delight to be had in a woman playing hard to get. So long as she enjoyed herself too.

“I don’t expect this to take long,” she said, facing me with arms crossed in the crowded little room. Shelves lined the walls, full to overflowing with various tomes and shit. “Oh, wait, I didn’t think to bring a microscope. Am I even going to be able to see it unaided?”

“Haha, madam.”

She smirked. It’s quite possible she looked even better smirking than I did. Dammit.

“Try not to faint or anything,” I said, tearing open the buttons of my jeans. “It’s a bitch to catch swooning women with your pants around your ankles.”

The girl couldn’t have looked more bored. “I’ll do my best to hold it together.”

“You say that now, but many have been overwhelmed by the sight of my naked genitals. Why, it happens so often I’ve basically been declared a hazard to heterosexual women everywhere.”

“Do you always talk like this?”

In answer, I pushed down my black boxer briefs, baring my splendor to the world. Or to her at least. And there hung my dick in all its glory. “See, I even did some trimming for you.”

“That was considerate.” The corner of her lips crept up. “Stay in character. This won’t work if you don’t stay in character.”

“I’m staying in character, you stay in character.”

She giggled, then straightened her shoulders, taking a deep breath. “Oh. My. God.”

“Right? My dick’s amazing, isn’t it?” I happy sighed. “Told you, but no…you wouldn’t believe me.”

“I can’t believe you’d show a complete stranger your goods.”

“Hey now, you act like I get it out for just anyone and that’s not true. You’re special to me. Whoever you are.”

“This is so shocking. I’m shocked.”

“But in a good way, right?” I asked.

“It’s so…”

My heart was beating harder. It wasn’t easy staying cool when she stared at me like that. Already I was half hard, my cock hardening and lengthening. My balls felt heavy, ready. I licked my lips. “It’s so what?”

“Thick and ropey and meaty,” she said in a breathy voice, gaze still glued to me. “What turgid magnificence.”

“Sure, sure. I’ve used those words often myself.”

Now she turned coy, twirling a strand of hair around her finger. “Can I touch it? Please?”

“You’ve been pretty mean to me. All this disbelief combined with the harsh vibes, I honestly don’t know if you deserve it.”

At this she snorted.

“Pumpkin, stay in character,” I hissed. “How are you going to win a sex Oscar if you can’t stay in character?”

She bit back a smile and tossed her hair around once more. Some of it sort of whipped her in the eye which had to sting a little. But she carried on like a trooper. “How was I to know all of your aggressive male cockiness actually hid the cock of a god?”

“Ooh, good line,” I said. “Anyway…I’ve shown you mine so now you have to show me yours. Obviously. Lift that skirt, lady.”

Her hands covered the general area of her downstairs pink bits, her eyes wide with fake shock. “You want to see my pussy?”

“I demand to see your pussy.”

“Oh, no! But–”

“Just drop the panties.”

An actual real live blush hit her cheeks. “I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Well, you see, I’m not wearing any.” Timid like, she looked away. “I forgot to put them on this morning. It was a total accident. I was just in such a rush that I plain forgot.”

“That is so awesome.” I swallowed hard, shuffling over to her. Pants around the ankles issues. With my dick sticking straight out, it wasn’t exactly easy getting to my knees. People think you can just wander around doing whatever with a hard-on, but I’m here to tell you, the whole swollen groin thing can really be tricky to manoeuvre. My bare knees hit the cool dusty concrete floor and I tsked. “You really need to sweep out here. This is bordering on unhygienic. Not that I care.”

“I’ll tell Reece later.”

“Good work.” I cleared my throat. “I won’t tell you again, Miss. Get that skirt up and widen your stance. Show me.”

“Why, whatever are you going to do down there?” she asked, slowly, teasingly lifting up the dress.

“Stuff. Important stuff. Never you mind.”

“You know, that’s not very sexy. Shouldn’t you be more poetic or something if you’re a rock star? Are you sure you’re not just a roadie?”

I barely held in my laughter that time. “Hey, now. Roadies need love too.”

“Fine. I guess since I’m here already…”

Didn’t matter how many times I’d seen her, the thrill never dulled. Her body, her voice, her mind, turned me on like no fucking other. She leaned back against a shelf of books, couldn’t have been comfortable. Ever so gradually, she exposed herself to me. Long bare legs, the curves of her thighs, and yes!

“Very nice,” I growled, wrapping my hand around her thigh. Already, wetness lingered on those juicy lips. The musky sweet scent of her went straight to my head. I leaned in, lapping at her with my tongue, humming with pleasure. “For the record though, I really am a hugely important internationally renowned rock star. I have fan clubs and everything.”


I licked her again. “It’s true.”

“Sure. Whatever.” She shifted one foot out, giving me more room to play. “Eat my pussy.”

“So demanding. Next time, let’s pretend I’m your sex slave. Subject to your every whim.”

“Sounds good.” Her fingers threaded into my hair, pulling just a little. Lighting me up even more. Lust tugged hard low in my gut. I breathed on her swollen sensitive flesh, nudging her mound with the tip of my nose, licking now and then. Her tummy trembled, her breath caught. “Stop messing around, Mal. I can’t keep the shop closed all day.”

Calm as can be, I slid a finger into her. Fuck. She was so hot and wet inside. My day dreams and sleeping dreams and every other kind of dream come true. First I pumped one finger into her, then two. And the noises coming out of her throat were so fucking sweet. “Is that really what you’re thinking about right now, the shop?”


“Good girl.”

Then I ate her like it was my job. Because it was job. My life rocked like that. If you didn’t get girl juice all over your hands and at least half your face when you gave head, then frankly, you weren’t doing it right. Nobody likes someone who half asses a job. So rude. I licked and sucked and generally made a meal of her. Then fingers hooked, I rubbed against her sweet spot, aiming to get her off hard and fast. Her legs shook and she came with a cry, eyelids slammed shut.

Now my aching dick pointed straight at the ceiling. There was no time to lose. Before she could come all the way down, I got to my feet and lifted her. Like we’d done it a million times before, which we probably had, she wrapped her arms and legs around me. I slammed my dick up into her, fucking her hard. Just how she liked it. Sure as hell just how I liked it. After tremors had her pussy fluttering faintly around me. It felt amazing. My balls swung with each thrust, slapping against her hot body.

“This is going to be quick,” I panted. “But I’ll make it up to you later.”

She just groaned in my ear.

Lungs labouring, heart hammering, I fucked her. Shelves rattled and banged back against the wall, a couple of books fell onto the floor with a thud. My hands sat on her ass and back, trying to protect her from the worst of it. But Anne didn’t mind a little rough and this had, after all, been her choice of location. At her workplace. Dirty girl. I tried to think of something else apart from the heat and tightness of her body. How good it felt being inside of her again. But with my cock slamming into paradise and my balls drawn up tight, it couldn’t be helped. I came hard, pouring myself into her, giving her everything.

My head shot off into outer space, sailing out amongst the stars. My body nothing but light. No one but her did this for me. To me. My wife’s hands slid over my back, all loving and soothing. Slowly I caught my breath.

“Another exceptional sexual performance,” I muttered. “I’d give me eleven out of ten as per usual. You weren’t bad either.”

“Thanks,” she laughed. “Happy almost third wedding anniversary, Mal.”

“Right back at you, Pumpkin.”

She made her happy noise, holding onto me tighter.

“I’ve been thinking,” I said.


That’s when some asshole banged on the storage room door. “Anne? Are you in there?”

Carefully, I set her down, smoothing a few sweaty strands of hair back from her face. “I’m here. Just a minute.”

“That was fun,” I whispered. “But there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”

“Is Mal in there too?” Reece the asshole asked through the door.

“No,” I said, pulling up my pants. “Fuck off please, and don’t come back later.”

“Mal,” my wife chided. “Sorry, Reece, we’ll be out in a minute. We just had to, um, discuss something.” 

“Christ’s sake, you guys. You can’t have sex at the shop. That’s what you’re doing, isn’t it? Don’t lie to me. That is not okay. It really isn’t.” The idiot finally stomped away. And it had to be stomping because I could hear it through the door.

Anne smoothed down her dress, taking a deep breath. Then she smiled at me. Man I loved that smile. “What did you want to talk about? It’ll have to be fast.”

“Yeah. Okay. So I was thinking, we should make a baby.”

She froze.

“I mean, it seems a crime for us to be this good looking and not pass it on.”

“Are you serious?”

I nodded. “I mean…if you still want to?”

The slow smile spreading across her face was even more beautiful than the one before. Holy shit the woman levelled me. Truth be told, I’d give her all the babies she wanted. The thought of her carrying our child, of being parents…it was scary, but exciting.

“When do you want to start trying?” she asked, eyes glossy.

“Whenever you’re ready is good with me.”

“Wow.” She wiped away a tear. Jesus I hated it when she cried. Though I guess these were happy tears, so not as bad. Her cheeks were still pink, her mouth swollen from kissing. The most beautiful girl in the world. “Pretty cool anniversary present.”

I frowned. “Huh? Fuck no. Got you diamonds at home.”

She laughed. “Of course you do. My rock star.”

“World famous, incredibly important, rich, and handsome, rock star,” I corrected. “You know, I was checking last night and my Instagram account has way more followers than Davie. He must be so bitter about it. Bet it’s just killing him inside, poor sap.”

“Oh really?”

“Well, five more followers.”

“Holy cow, yeah, you’re burying him.”

“Right? Though Jimmy unfollowed me again, the prick. He thinks it’s funny or something.”

She laughed, winding her arms around my neck. I pulled her in tight, sitting my cheek atop her head. We fit just right. We always have.

“Mine,” she said.

And I could only agree.


MAL + ANNE + 1: A Stage Dive Short Story

“Pumpkin? Anne? You all right?”

I groaned, rubbing my lower back and various other parts of my body because oh my God. Four in the morning was such an awesome time for the baby to go to town kicking my bladder and various other internal organs. Sleep all day, party all night. It was fun to be a rock star’s progeny.

“Time to pee,” I mumbled. “Again.”

He clicked on the bedside light, bathing the room in a soft golden glow. Tussled blond locks stood out in every which direction. Damn the man for making bed hair look good. “Anything I can I do?”

“No. Go back to sleep, Mal.”


Killer, our Boston Terrier, stirred in his little doggy bed and gave me a disinterested look. Snacks and treats weren’t given at this hour, so there was no point in getting up. He cuddled with his latest chewed-up Converse (another one of Mal’s) and went back to sleep. Life was simple when you were a pupper. Especially a spoiled one like him.

I waddled toward the bathroom. Pregnancy was such utter bullshit. Don’t get me wrong, the first six or so months weren’t too bad once the morning sickness stopped. But then you just get bigger and bigger and bigger. They called it a baby bump. Damn liars. More like a baby blimp. No position, sleeping- or sexwise, was comfortable. A pity because I enjoy both resting and banging my husband. I can’t even remember the last time I saw my toes or put socks on without contorting myself in some weird manner. Lower back pain was my new friend, and maternity yoga pants and oversize T-shirts were about the only things that fit me anymore. I don’t care if people had been doing this since the dawn of time. All that mattered was that for me, right here and right now, pregnancy sucked. Thirty-nine weeks in and I just wanted my baby already. Now.

And then it happened. A stream of water shot out from between my legs, arcing up gracefully before descending and splashing all over the polished wooden floor, like I’d turned into a fountain or something. For a moment, I just stared, bewildered.

“Um, Mal?”

A sleepy grunt from over on the bed.

“I think my waters just broke.”

An almighty rustling of blankets and sheets came from the general direction of the bed. “What? Are you serious?”

“Don’t see how it could be anything else. Can you get me a couple of towels please?”

“You bet.” In a show of dexterity, the man leaped from the bed and ran toward the bathroom. Unfortunately, he was in such a panicked rush that he made straight for the puddle, slipped and fell. Crash, boom, bang. Killer barked and danced around us. He stopped and sniffed the puddle once before going back to barking. This was all apparently very exciting for a pupper.

“Fuck,” muttered Mal from the floor.

“Are you all right?”


“No concussion?”

He rubbed the back of his head. “I got a pretty thick skull.”

“That’s true. Maybe we should calm down and not panic.”

“Let’s not be too hasty. The more we panic now, the better the stories we’ll have to tell later.”

“That comment sums your life philosophy up perfectly. But I think in all fairness you should have told me that was your motto sometime before you made me complicit in reproducing your gene pool.”

“I’m serious. Now we have a great party story to tell about how I slipped and almost killed myself when your waters broke, and then swam manfully through the stuff to get you some towels.” Writhing pathetically across the floor, he managed to get to the bath towels on the wall.

“I can’t help thinking this story will be rather different depending on which of us is telling it.”

He arrived back with the towels, sopping the floor around my feet. “True. I’m too busy being heroic to even notice how hot my mostly naked body must look to you right now.”

“I know, right. All slick with amniotic fluid. What a turn-on.”

His work mostly done, he grinned up at me. “I love you, Pumpkin.”

“I love you too.”

“We’re going to be parents.”

I nodded. “Yep.”

“Solely responsible for a tiny little person who will communicate mostly by screaming at us. Or that’s what Jimmy said.”

“Well, he and Lena have twins. Hopefully just one baby won’t be so hard to manage,” I said. “Why don’t we worry about that later and get to the hospital now?”

“Good idea.”

Nice and slow, he got back to his feet and grabbed another towel off the wall, passing it to me. With the towel pressed against my crotch, I grabbed a change of clothes, etcetera, then got busy cleaning up. Mal appeared in a T-shirt and jeans, his hair dark from a ninety-second shower. He looked at me and I nodded. The time had come. I was in labor. Okay. We could do this.


“I can’t do this.”

Mal tenderly wiped the sweat and tears from my face with a wet cloth. “You can. I believe in you.”

“No,” I wailed. “What do you even know anyway?”

Mal opened his mouth to answer, but Lizzy got there first. “Just breathe, Anne.”

“Here comes another.” Breathing in pants, I pushed as the pain took me over from head to toe. “Oh God.”

Dr. Garcia, the OB/GYN, smiled encouragingly from where she stood between my legs. Fuck dignity. It had no place here. And while everyone was being so supportive, I was the only one who could push this behemoth baby out. Talk about unfair. I’d been so damn brave putting off having an epidural until it was time to push and therefore too damn late.

“The head is crowning,” said Dr. Garcia. “That’s it, Anne. You’re doing great.”

“Everyone is here for you. They can’t wait to meet your baby.” Lizzy smiled. Dark circles sat beneath her eyes. Fair enough considering we’d been at the hospital trying to bring this baby into the world for approximately seventy-two years and counting. Or that’s what it felt like.

“It hurts. Oh man, it hurts so bad.” Woe was me. “Wait. Who is humming the tune from Rocky?”

Mal pursed his lips. “Sorry. Just trying to be supportive.”

“New rules.” I pushed a strand of sweat-damp hair back off my face, focusing on the matter at hand. “No tapping out drumbeats on my belly while I’m in labor.”

“I was saying welcome in Morse code.”

“It’s a baby, Mal,” said Liz. “Pretty sure they don’t come into existence already knowing Morse code.”

“Since any child of mine, and of my awesome and right now particularly beautiful wife, is bound to be a prodigy, I don’t think we can rule anything out at this point.” Liz glared at him, and his shoulders sagged in an exaggerated fashion. “Fine.”

“No snapping selfies that include me when I’m in the middle of a contraction and posting them to Instagram.”

“I’m just so proud of you, and you know how much my two-point-one-million-more-than-Jimmy-has followers love you. Well…apart from a few of them. The more overly possessive, slightly fucking strange ones.”

“No photos, Mal.”

“All right, Pumpkin,” he said in a resigned tone. “Though in my defense, I did tell the documentary crew they couldn’t come in.”

“You did one thing right. Yes.”

At this, he high-fived himself. “Is that all the rules?”

“No humming inspirational movie themes during labor,” suggested Lizzy.

“And that,” I agreed.

He scratched his stubbly chin. “But what about the love theme from the Titanic?”

“They die. No.”

“How about we skip movies entirely and just go for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’? Pretty sure I could hit the high notes.”


“Some Nirvana, maybe?”

I said nothing.

“Fine.” He looked to heaven. “Whatever. But you’re sucking all the fun out of this. I thought we could all have a little nitrous oxide, kick back and relax. But no, you had to make this labor all about you. Way to share, Anne. You’re setting the baby a great example.”

Give me strength. “I’m going to pretend you didn’t say any of that because I don’t even have the energy to threaten to kill you, let alone hit you with something right now. How the hell do people do this more than once?”

Lizzy shrugged. “No idea. You won’t see me rushing back for another anytime soon, and Lena said she’s done.”

“See how you feel once you’ve got your baby in your arms,” said the midwife, Gaylin. She was nice. Having had children of their own, both her, Lizzy, and Dr. Garcia understood my pain.

Mal did not. “I thought we’d settled on three?”

“Then you figure out a way to carry and birth them,” I snapped. Being in extreme pain while you lay half-naked with your nether regions exposed to the world and your feet up in stirrups does not tend to put you in a great mood. Funny that.

“Yes, Pumpkin.”

Liz snickered. “Good answer.”

“Here it comes.” I gripped Mal’s and Liz’s hands brutally tight, pushing with all my might as another contraction hit me. “Get it out. Get it out. Get it out.”

“Nearly there, Anne,” said the doctor. “That’s it. Here comes the head.”

“Breathe, baby. C’mon, Pumpkin. You got this.”

“Push, Anne. Push.” I don’t even know who said that, but I pushed for all I was worth and then some. I pushed my goddamn heart out.

Not to be resentful of my not quite born child or anything, but this baby’s head was ginormous. Quite possibly even bigger than their father’s ego, and that was saying something. Another mighty push accompanied me yelling out cuss words like it was my job, and the baby slipped from my body and into the doctor’s waiting hands. Holy hell.

“It’s a boy!” Mal pumped a fist into the air. “We have a son, Pumpkin.”

My smile was a trembling, weary thing. Yet the joy swelling inside my chest was off the charts. “A boy?”

A cranky cry filled the air. I’d never been so relieved to hear anything in my life. I didn’t quite understand how worried I’d been about basically everything until I heard that noise.

“A healthy baby boy by the sound of things.” Gaylin, the midwife, smiled and clamped the cord and so on. “Congratulations.”

With our son wrapped up in a white blanket, Mal carried him over to me. “Come and meet your beautiful, brave, and all-round wonderful mama,” cooed Mal. “You made a baby, Pumpkin. Fucking amazing.”

“Hello, Tomas David Ericson.” I’d never smiled so hard in my life. Nothing could have prepared me for the rush of love I felt for him. Nothing. Little fists waved in the air, still rather annoyed about the whole being-born thing. And his features were so tiny and perfect. Big blue eyes gazed vaguely in my direction. What with being used to the tiny terrors that were Lena and Jimmy’s twin girls and my own very excitable nephew, Gibson, the baby’s cry didn’t seem all that loud after all. “Hello, my baby. Hey, Tommy.”

“That’s his name?” asked Liz, taking a peek at the baby.

Mal nodded. “Tommy for the drummer from the Ramones, the musical by The Who, and Thomas Hardy, who is apparently some writer dude Anne likes but nobody else in the real world has actually heard of.”

“Hi, Tommy,” said Liz in a gentle voice. “Hey there, baby. And to think, this is the kind of amazing you can produce while being annoyed by crazy pants here the entire time. My big sister is a talented lady.”

“Puh-lease.” Mal scoffed. “I only annoyed her because it distracted her from the pain. I knew what I was doing the whole time.”

I scrunched up my nose. “No, it… Actually it did, didn’t it?”

“Huh,” said Lizzy.

“You’re welcome.” He gave me a grin, gently rocking our son in his arms. “The doctor wants to look him over. I’ll bring him back in a minute. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Having trouble writing something other than your signature?” Liz’s voice roused me from my dozed state.

“What?” Mal was leaning against the wall, a clipboard and pen in his hands. He sounded defensive. “No. It’s just that the birth certificate is an official document. I had to make sure to get the spelling right and everything. Some things you can’t rush. It’s all good.”

“Hand it over.” Liz squared off in front of him, arm outstretched.

“Dammit.” Mal scowled and handed the clipboard over.

Godzilla Velociraptor Ericson!”

“Mal!” I shrieked.

“No, Liz, it’s pronounced Tomas David Ericson. Or Tommy for short. But it’s spelled Godzilla Velociraptor Ericson.”

Liz stalked off in search of the nurse. “Can we have a new certificate to fill out please?”

“You guys are no fun. Imagine his first day of school.”

I groaned and tried to get my exhausted brain to wake the hell up. I hadn’t meant to doze off in the first place. We had visitors, after all.

Flowers and soft toys filled just about every available surface while the members of Stage Dive and their partners filled the chairs. The hospital room was large and luxurious, which was nice. And it smelled divine like a florist’s shop. All other deliveries and congratulations would have to go to our apartment in Portland’s Pearl District. We were out of room here. As for safety, Bon and Ziggy stood guard outside the door.

“A lot of press downstairs,” warned David, the lead guitarist. His wife, Evelyn, sat on his lap, carefully holding Tommy. Both of them appeared enamored, and David’s finger looked huge wrapped in the baby’s small fist.

Having recently been fed, Tommy seemed content to give being on the outside a chance. Or at least, the crying had stopped for now. Since he’d arrived just after midnight, it was still the day of his birth. We’d all gotten some much necessary sleep during the day. Though we were both still tired. From what I’d heard and seen, however, that’s just the way things would be for a while. Outside, the city lights stained the darkness.

“Agreed.” Mal hovered near the baby, constantly on guard. It was sweet and hot to see him all papa-bear protective in his ripped black jeans and faded long-sleeve Henley with his long blond hair tied back. “We’ll put out a statement later. Something vague.”

David nodded. “The less they know about our private lives the better.”

“Right, no posting pics of him to Instagram, Jimmy,” said Mal. “That’s not cool.”

“How are you feeling, Anne?” asked Lena, cutting off her husband’s inevitable retort.

I smiled. “Sore. Tired. But fine.”

The twins and Gibson played with coloring books and crayons on the floor. A newborn baby wasn’t all that interesting to small children, apparently. A kids’ TV show played quietly on a tablet set next to the trio, and juice boxes and snacks were to hand. I couldn’t imagine Tommy being that big in a few years. He was so small in comparison. Though he hadn’t felt small coming out. Guess none of them did. My poor innocent vagina.

“Killer is enjoying his visit with us.” Evelyn grinned. “We left him curled up on the couch with a chew toy.”

“Thank you for that,” I said.


“My turn,” announced Lena, carefully lifting Tommy from Ev’s arms. “Hello, I’m your Aunt Lena. I have lots and lots of toys at my house. You’ll be interested in them when you’re older. Oh, he’s so light. I’d forgotten how small newborns are. And the twins were even tinier at first.”

“Do not get clucky.” Jimmy set his ankle on his other knee, watching his wife hold the baby. “I mean it, Lena.”

“Clucky? Please. You were the one suggesting another baby wouldn’t be so bad.”

“No. I suggested practicing making another baby wouldn’t be so bad.”

From his seat in the corner, Ben snorted.

Lena stuck her tongue out at her husband.

“At least when you put them in their bed at that age, they stay there.” Ben watched his son with a faint smile. “Gibby keeps trying to climb into our bed at night.”

“Do not,” said the child in question.

“Oh yes, you do. Aunty Martha said you even tried it at her and Uncle Sam’s house.”

Gibby gave his father a withering look before returning to his coloring.

The big bass player just smiled. “You and Anne have a lot of fun times ahead of you.”

“They still have the nappies, puking up sour milk, and incessant crying to go through before they hit the good stuff.” Lena stopped and sniffed the baby. “Speaking of which, time for a change of pants for you, my friend. Here you go, Mal.”

Mal’s eyes widened in alarm. “Uh, he needs to be changed? But you’re good at that. You should do it, Lena. It’ll be like bonding time.”

“Forget it, pal. You’re changing your own son’s nappy.”

“You haven’t done one yet?” asked Jimmy with a scowl.

“He hasn’t been out that long!” Mal protested, taking back his now crying son. “Sorry, Tommy. Daddy didn’t mean to raise his voice. He was just being picked on by our evil, nasty friends. Yes, he was. Poor Daddy.”

“Are you okay with him?” I asked, sitting up a bit farther. Ouches.

“I’m fine. I can do it.”

“And he will.” Ben rose from his chair, following Mal and the baby over to the change table.

“I don’t need you looking over my shoulder,” hissed Mal.

“Figure you need someone watching who has a clue.”

“Whatever.” And Mal got busy. Since the table had sides, I couldn’t see much. Tommy’s little hands waved in the air and a not so nice smell came from his general direction. Mal and Ben fought quietly over how to get him out of his gray-and-white stripe baby suit. Then Mal reared back in horror. “Oh good God. My son. What have you done?”

“Black and tarlike for the first few days, then it goes more normal,” said Ben.

“Don’t try and sugarcoat it, Ben. It’s obvious that my child is the demon harbinger of the apocalypse. From the moment Anne got pregnant, we all knew this was a possible result.”

“Wait until he does a power poop right up his back.” Liz retied her long blonde hair in a low ponytail. “Those are truly special events.”

Jimmy blew out a breath. “In all honesty, some of those onesies I just threw out. There was no getting all the poop off them. It had gone everywhere. I didn’t even want to try to deal with the mess.”

“You did not. That’s terrible.” Lena laughed.

“We were surviving on next to no sleep with two very demanding baby girls. Sacrifices had to be made.”

“C’mon, Mal. Keep going,” said Ben. “You got to get the job done or his little legs are going to get cold in this air-conditioning.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Mal nudged a strand of hair out of his eyes with the back of his hand. “This is like diffusing a bomb. Please stop crying, Tommy. Daddy’s trying his hardest here. But your poop is really weird and sticky, bro. There you go, I think you’re clean now.”

“Do you need help?” I asked.

“Anne, you’re supposed to be resting.” Ev raised a brow. “He’s a big boy. He can handle it on his own.”

“He needs to learn sometime. Might as well be now,” said Ben. “That’s it, just slip the new one underneath him. No, position it a little higher. About there’ll do.”

“Brain surgery can’t even be this hard,” mumbled Mal. “Oh God, I’ve got poop on me.”

“Stop being so precious.” Lena crossed her arms, a smirk on her lips. “At least he’s not peeing on you.”

“Yet.” Ben shot her an amused glance.

Ev bit back a smile. “How many millions are your hands worth again, Mal?”

“Don’t mock me, child bride.” Mal, tongue sticking out in thought, fit the baby’s feet back into his suit. Not so easy to do since Tommy was kicking. “You just might be here facing this dark and perilous quest one day.”

“Oh, please. I already know how to change a nappy.”

“Me too,” added Dave.

“Way to have my back, man.” Mal pouted. “It’s just you, me, and Mommy, Tommy. Everyone else is against us. And…you’re done. Yes! Victory!”

“My turn.” Ben picked Tommy up off the change table, narrowing his eyes on the baby’s face. “He looks like Anne and Liz. Got the same shaped face. Very similar to Gibby when he was born.”

“And me.” Over at the basin, Mal turned on the taps and soaped up his hands. “Mostly me. Because I mean, he’s so good-looking, right? The kid is ridiculously handsome. So it’s got to be me.”

“Whatever, man. Hey, Tommy. Welcome to the world, my friend.”

“There’s enough second-generation Stage Dive babies to start a band now,” said David, arms wrapped around Ev’s waist, drawing her back against his chest.

“Nuh.” Jimmy shook his head. “Twins will probably be a duo like The White Stripes. Fierce girl-power rock ’n’ roll.”

Ben lifted a still-crying Tommy to his shoulder, positioning him carefully before rubbing his back in small circles while he did a back-and-forth movement. “Gibby will probably be a solo act. He’s not that big on sharing, and Adam is his current hero.”

“God help us all if he takes after Adam,” said Lena. “Did you hear the latest story about him from Martha? He trashed a hotel room!”

Ben frowned. “I’m going to have to have a talk to that boy.”

“Rock star’s gotta do what a rock star’s gotta do. There’s a fine tradition of trashing hotel rooms and riding motorcycles through hotel lobbies for us to live up to.” Hands clean, Mal started doing a slow-motion lap of the room with his hands in the air humming the tune from Rocky. Again. “I have conquered the nappy of death and ruin. Woo-hoo.”

“Good work.” I gave him a thumbs-up. “Is Tommy hungry again, do you think?”

“With babies it’s always a guess,” answered Ben, never stopping the gentle back-and-forth rocking motion and back rubbing. “But I think, if we turn the lights down and lower our voices, he might just go to sleep.”

“Quiet voices,” whisper hissed Gibby.

Ben smiled. “That’s right.”

Since his third victory lap took him by the light switches, Mal turned off the bulk of the lights, giving the room a shadowy, intimate atmosphere. And the swelling, amazing joyful feeling in my chest seemed so big that it might burst right on out of me Aliens style. Messy, but potent. Just as Ben had prophesised, Tommy’s cries gradually quieted down to almost nothing at all. A hiccup and a whimper and the baby fell asleep.

“Do you want us to leave?” asked Ev in a whisper.

I shook my head. “Not if you don’t want to.”

“You all right, Pumpkin?” Mal slid onto the bed beside me. “Looking suspiciously teary there.”

“Probably hormones,” said Liz with a smile. “Though you’ve gone through a lot in the last day and a half.”

“No.” I shook my head, wiping a tear from my eye. “I love our family. That’s all.”

Mal smiled, planting a kiss against my forehead. “We do have a pretty great one. And now with Tommy as well…”

“Yeah. It’s perfect.” I turned my head and kissed him on the lips, soft and sweet. “Absolutely perfect.”

Unedited Deleted Scene From Deep

Seven years ago…

Apparently I wasn’t much of a shoplifter.
The old man sat me into a small room out back then stood guard in the doorway, thick arms crossed and scowl firmly in place. Every couple of minutes he’d stare at the phone with rheumy eyes. The thing was almost as antique as him, curly cord hanging off the end of the desk. It was like a snake, waiting to strike.
“I should call the cops,” he said for not the first time.
I kept my face down and my mouth shut. If he called the cops…man, there’d be so much trouble. I swallowed hard, but the dryness in my throat went bone deep.
“Kids like you, you’re no good,” he continued. “Coming in here, stealing stuff. What’s happening to society these days? Where’s the honesty, the respect?”
All of this over a cruddy $2.99 shell bracelet. Not like I even wanted the thing but then Amber had dared me and Dane joined in and now here we were. I’d been so worried about losing face in front of him, about all the flirty looks Amber swore she wasn’t giving him.
I shut my eyelids tight for a second, squeezed. But everything remained the same. There was no magic hey presto to get me out of this mess.
“Mr Sallis, I’m so sorry.” Finally (thank god) Anne came rushing in, huffing and puffing, her carrot colored hair sticking out all crazy. We didn’t really look related, my sister and I. And given how their marriage had gone, it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if mom had done the dirty on dad some fourteen years back. My caramel colored hair and dumb little nose didn’t come from dad. The hard ass jawline was 100% mom, however.
“She’s never done anything like this before, I swear,” said Anne.
“If it had been anyone else!” The old guy poked her in the chest with a finger.
“I know. It was so good of you not to call the police. I really appreciate it.”
“I still might, you know.” Now the finger pointed toward heaven like he was calling down the wrath of god. “She needs to learn that actions have consequences. She needs discipline. And why isn’t she in school?”
“Good question,” my sister mumbled.
I rolled my eyes and picked at the hem of my faded black hoodie, anxious to get gone.
“Please, let me pay for whatever she took.” From her jean’s pocket, Anne pulled forth a fifty dollar bill. I sat up with interest, wondering if there was more where that came from. Dad must have sent some money. And really, so good of him to remember us. Anne held the bill out to the man, face pleading, puppy dog eyes and all. “I appreciate this so much. I promise Lizzy’ll be grounded for a month, at least. No, make it two.”
Like hell.
Greedy eyes narrowed on the cash. “Well…”
“Please, Mr Sallis. She’s only a kid. This was just a stupid mistake.”
The fifty disappeared into his hand like a puff of smoke. “This time. But mark my words, if I see her in my shop again––”
“You won’t,” I said, rising out of the chair.
More grumbling.
“Come on.” Anne hooked my elbow, pulling me past the old douche. This close to him, the stench of Old Spice and mothballs was as subtle as a smack around the head, stinging my nose and making my eyes water.
“Say ‘sorry’,” my sister instructed, voice firm.
“Yeah. Sorry.”
Mr Sallis snorted and Anne’s grip tightened around my arm, dragging me onward. Out through the maze of gaudy shit jewelry, out into the noise and bustle of the mall. Freedom, liberty, hooray. No sign of Amber and Dane, surprise, surprise. As friends went, they kind of sucked.
“Mom couldn’t make it?” I joked, tearing my elbow out of her grip.
Beneath all these lights the dark shadows under her eyes were obvious. For a moment, I almost felt guilty. But fuck them all. I didn’t owe anyone anything.
“She tried again last night,” said Anne, her voice eerily empty.
I froze.
“She’s fine. I don’t think she was even that serious about it this time.”
It took a long moment to come unstuck, for it to sink in. “I wish she’d succeeded.”
Anne said nothing.
“So, can I go now?” My tone was pure smart-ass, practically begging for a reaction.
But she just nodded dully. “I can’t stop you, can I? I can’t make you stay in school and stop messing up your life, no matter how much I want.”
I raised my brows. “This again, really?”
She looked away, crossing her arms over her chest. “I checked on you last night. You weren’t in your bed.”
“I was out.”
“Yeah, you were out. The Crème de Menthe is missing from Dad’s liquor cabinet. Bet that tasted like crap.”
It did actually, but it got the job done. Everything had gone away, just for a little while. I’d been numb, wasted care of the minty green bad booze and some weed Dane had managed to pinch off his big brother. Good times.
“I see you took out the nose ring,” she said.
It had actually gotten infected and been a red pussy mess. No way would I be admitting that to her. I’d give Amber’s home piercings a miss from herein, however.
Anne raised her hand in greeting to the manager of the Icy Blue Ice Cream stand where she’d worked last summer before things went bad. When she turned back, a tear was sliding down her face, over her cheek and along her jawline, leaving a watery trail. To my horror, she let it fall unchecked.
“Anne?” Another slither of guilt slid through me. This one was bigger, badder. God, I hated it and I didn’t deserve it because none of this was on me. Well, apart from the shoplifting, sneaking out and stealing from Dad’s liquor cabinet, of course.
“Jamie dumped me last night,” she said.
“What? No.”
A shrug. “He wants to go out with his friends, do what other seventeen year olds are doing and I can’t.”
“But that’s not your fault. You really like him. You two were good together.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Glossy tear-filled eyes stared right through me. “It’s what he wants. I ah…I better get back. Shouldn’t leave mom alone too long.”
Bitterness rose up like bile, burning the back of my throat. “She’s ruined everything, her and dad. I hate them. I hate them so much.”
Anne just sighed.
My eyes itched and my chest hurt, like something big was pushing out against my insides. I could hardly breathe.
“Come home with me.” She spoke so softly I could barely hear her. “Please.”
The hum of chatter and tinkling of music surrounded us. Everywhere people carried on living, oblivious to the hot stinking mess our lives had become. So much for leaving it up to the adults to be in control, to know what’s best. What a joke.
“I’ll write a note from mom, say you were sick or something.” Her fingers firmly laced with mine and we held hands, same as we used to when we’d walk to school together. “It’ll be okay. You can go back to class tomorrow, hang out with your old friends. You can have better than this.”
“I don’t know.”
“I can fix this for you.”
“You can’t make dad come back,” I said, pointing out the blazingly obvious.
She raised a brow. “Would you want him back?”
“No,” she agreed, blue eyes bright. “Fuck him. Fuck both of them. Just you and me, we’ll stick together and get through this.”
“Absolutely. Think about it, in three years you’ll be finished and out of here, off to college.”
“What about you?” I asked, clutching her hand so tight my knuckles turned white.
“I’ll work something out. Trust me. Please?”
I stared at her, my mind a whirl. Her eyes looked so old, it hurt to see them. But it was the desperation in her voice that undid me. We used to be friends, Anne and I, before all of this. Our parents had so much to answer for.
“I, um…”
“Do it, Lizzy. Do it for both of us.”
I let out a deep breath, nodded.
Anne smiled.
“I’m sorry about today,” I whispered. “If you can fix it, then okay. I’ll be good, I promise. No more boys or sneaking out or anything.”