Monday, February 21, 2011

Visible Friend

~ Coming in April from Dreamspinner Press ~


Only 24, Christopher Borgasian has made a drastic and terrifying change in his life. He's turning his back on a lover he'd adored for three years. The breakup required more than regretfully spoken words; it was an arduous process that took over seven months. Now it's time for Chris to see if he can make it on his own. Without heroin.

Without much of anything, really. Chris's family rejected him nearly a decade ago when he came out, and his drug buddies, never true friends to begin with, are now off-limits. Chris Borgasian, gay recovering junkie, is alone with his determination.

The night before he leaves a sober-living facility to pursue his uncertain future, a stranger named Denny shows up in his room . . . then vanishes as mysteriously as he'd appeared. From that night on, Denny keeps returning, suddenly and inexplicably, whenever Chris battles temptation, self-doubt, or feelings of isolation. This handsome young man isn't an angel, but his identity still strains credulity.

Believing in Denny means, for Chris, believing in the magical strength of a child's longing -- for the invisible made visible, the imaginary turned real, and, most incredible of all, the possibility of unquestioning acceptance and abiding love.



 Finding a good entry point was like discovering a clean patch of water in the middle of an oil spill. Chris flexed his arm, tightened his fist, touched one spot after another. A line of music went through his head: Oh beautiful, for spacious veins. . .

His didn’t deserve an anthem. Shriveled, sunken sonsabitches.

“Quit farting around; you’re making me nervous,” Winston muttered as he rigged up. “Try your hand or foot.”

“No. Now be quiet.”

The veins in one’s extremities rolled too much. Winston might’ve been reckless enough to jab at one of the slippery tubules, but Chris was more cautious. He didn’t relish the idea of becoming a pincushion, especially a pincushion squirting blood. That had happened to him a few times and it hadn’t been pretty.

Finally, he palpated a barely perceptible, blue-gray rise with the tip of his thumb. Okay, no more farting around. He aimed and fired.

First, a sharp nip as the needle broke his skin, then the faintest pop of sensation as it drove through a second wall. Chris jacked the plunger to make sure he’d spiked one . . . and, sure as heaven, a ghostly crimson plume swirled in slow motion into the barrel of the syringe. It was a beautiful thing to see, all his passion reduced to this watercolor wash. The image was so powerful in its simplicity that it struck Chris as nearly divine.

His anticipation rose as his forefinger steadily lowered. He sent the plume back home, wrapped around a velvet hammer.

First the bees attacked. Yellowjackets, all clustered around the injection site. Little bastards stung like demons. The sensation didn’t startle Chris anymore. It hadn’t for a long time.

He removed the tie-off from his left arm. It was a thin lady’s belt he’d bought at a thrift store, a gauche strip of gilded vinyl that had tickled his fancy as soon as he’d seen it. He eased the needle out of its twin entry holes and laid the rig in a bowl of warm water.

The unique smell-taste of heroin was already blooming within the tissues at the back of his nose and throat. Not pleasant, not unpleasant, but a distinct part of the experience. Like the burn delivered by the bees, it was what it was. Then, as Chris drew water into his rig to clean it out, the bliss descended.

In a blink, he was swaddled in the thickest, softest comforter in this or any other world. Dusty pink, light as air, it imparted a warmth that melted his muscles and turned his blood to honey.

Nothing could touch him now. Even the barbs of his own thoughts and feelings couldn’t pierce this protective bunting. Serene, oblivious, he floated in place as the honey saturated every cell in his body. The honey was heavy and hot and sweet. From clover, he’d always thought. It must come from clover.

Chunks of time got lost—three minutes here, five minutes there—as Chris periodically nodded. No prickly feeling spread over him this time, and no nausea welled, for he was pretty much past the vomiting stage. He had no elaborate, fascinating dreams.

Winston’s voice drifted toward him. “Good shit, huh?”


“You still gonna quit?”

“Got to.” Even if Chris’s halcyon days with heroin were long past—the early period of use when every hit brought orgasmic euphoria—his answer carried profound regret.

He’d probably be giving up the best friend, and best lover, he’d ever had.


Val said...

Amazing sensory description here, KA. It's making my skin crawl (in a good way). Cool surname for the character, too. Is he Armenian?

Val said...

Sorry, KZ, I didn't mean to call you KA -- argh. You know the A key is next to the Z key on the keyboard. :)

Tam said...

Wow, that was pretty profound. For a moment I could see the allure of it. Looking forward to it KZ. See, "I" know your name. ;-)

Val said...

Ha, ha! And you're a better typist. :D

K. Z. Snow said...

KA is fine with me, Val. Maybe people will look forward to the book if they think one of our more stellar peers wrote it. ;-)

(Oh, in answer to your question: yes. Not that it impacts the plot, though.)

Well, Tam, if you'd called me ZA, I would've really had it made in the shade. Imagine people thinking, "Ooo, ooo, this is a collaboration to die for! I'm marking my calendar right now!" :D

Val said...

(Oh, in answer to your question: yes. Not that it impacts the plot, though.)

I love surnames, and I worked with an Armenian guy, so I thought I recognized origin of the name! I like how thoroughly you've mapped out the details of your character on down to something tiny but meaningful like his distinctive surname.

K. Z. Snow said...

Thanks, Val. I do like "ethnic" (non-Anglo) names, probably because I was raised in such an ethnic city.

Val said...

I do like "ethnic" (non-Anglo) names

I agree, and there are almost no authors, for some reason, who think to explore this with their characters. I'd love to see more of it.

Lily said...

Like Val said your sensory description is amazing... I was totally in the moment with him.

I'm so looking forward to reading Christopher's story, K.Z. :)

K. Z. Snow said...

Thank you, Lily! It's kind of an odd one. (So what else is new? *g*)

Jenre said...

Very interesting premise, KZ. I shall look forward to this one.

I agree with Val's description of the extract, it made my sin hurt reading it.

K. Z. Snow said...

Was it a mortal sin, Jen, or merely a venial sin?

LOL, I know you meant "skin." My fingers have also been stumbling on the keyboard a lot lately.

I'm glad you found the passage vivid. It was meant to be.

Jenre said...

oops! That will teach me to leave comments early in the morning before I've had my second cup of tea :).

BlueSimplicity said...


YAAAAY!! More KZ? Now I only have to wait until April for it? **looks at calendar** OK, only a few more days to go in February, and dammit, arch is one of those 31 day long months, but April should be here soon right? Right?

Seriously, I can't wait for this. I just finished reading your series about Jackson and Adin and I am starving for more of your work.


P.S. Is there any hope there's going to be another story in the Mongrel world? I LOVED the world you created and would love to see more of it.

K. Z. Snow said...

Hi there, Blue! Love it when people come out of lurkdom!

I'm so glad you liked the Jackson and Adin stories. I've been getting itchy lately (or they have) to bring them forward again.

A sequel to Mongrel is still up in the air. I really enjoyed losing myself in those characters and their world, but I'm just not sure if enough readers in the m/m romance genre are willing to embrace fantasy steampunk.

Thanks so much for commenting. Please come back again!

BlueSimplicity said...

That's a shame about Mongrel. I read in an earlier blog post of yours that Mongrel seemed to have a quieter reception than most of your other work, which is unfortunate.

Quite honestly, the fact that you write stories that are just so different is one of the reasons why you are an auto-buy for me. I know when I read one of your books I'm not going to get the same old same old boy meet boy story that is so rampant out there. You take your readers on these wonderfully unique journies, with these wonderfully unique characters, and the journey is always, if not more so, as intersting as the destination. I never know what to expect when I read something of yours. Your work is always well written, unique and quite often challenging. (Quite honestly, precious_boy was a difficult one for me.) That said, I ALWAYS enjoy the journey, and even if I don't always agree with something, I love the fact that you present it in such a way that the perspective is understandable. I LOVE being challenged as a reader, and you do that quite well. Again, your work is DIFFERENT, but that's what makes it so WONDERFUL.

OK, I'll stop blathering now, but, um, yeah. Why wouldn't readers want of m/m want to embrace fantasy steampunk? Silly readers. I've reread Mongrel at least 4 times and it just gets better with each reread. =)


K. Z. Snow said...

Blue, you're my idea of the perfect reader: open-minded and discerning. I believe the people who get the most out of books are the ones who like being challenged once in a while. This is the perfect genre for it, too.

I haven't completely given up on a sequel to Mongrel; I'm just in "wait and see" mode right now. Not sure why m/m romance readers prefer contemporaries, but that's how it is.

By the way, thank you for all your kind words!

Arlene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arlene said...

I was going to comment, but Blue said it so eloquently that all I need to do is totally agree. I read your stuff because it is 'different'. I am so easily bored with the 'normal' m/m romance. I need a challenge and you, my dear KZ, always present one. Thank you!

Lena said...

I was going to comment, but Blue said it so eloquently that all I need to do is totally agree. I read your stuff because it is 'different'. I am so easily bored with the 'normal' m/m romance. I need a challenge and you, my dear KZ, always present one. Thank you!

K. Z. Snow said...

Thank YOU, Lena. I wouldn't be doing this at all if I didn't have appreciative readers!