Friday, 17 December 2010

Introducing Alix Bekins and a Giveaway..

When it's just not working anymore

One of the themes in Relationships 201 that made it both a challenge for me and made me want to do my best to meet it, is the idea of a relationship not working. So often there are relationships that are “mostly good” for every objective reason, fine on the surface, with very little either person can complain about… yet it’s just not working. There is (or was) some chemistry there, but it has dimmed. You’re not satisfied, but not sure if you’re expecting too much or if you do, in fact, deserve more.

Stephan struggles with this question in his relationship with Eric, and it takes him a long while to come up with an answer. It’s one I struggled with myself once upon a time, and I think it’s universal – we want sex to be hot, romance to be exciting, and yet we know that isn’t terribly realistic to hope for that excitement “forever.” We know that companionship is important, but sometime we get the message that “compromise” is a dirty word. It’s hard to know when to hold on and work through a rough (or just dull) spot in a relationship, and when to let it go and break up.

As many of us do, Stephan turns to his friends for advice, but there isn’t much useful they can say or do (aside from feeding him lots of Italian food). It’s something he has to figure out for himself, and while there were many possible ways for it to turn out, I’m proud that he made his own decision without being influenced by other events – or sexy new professors.

I know it sounds silly to say you’re proud of a character you created, but it’s not such a surprise to me. Sometimes they take on a life of their own, sleep with people I didn’t intend them to, get into arguments during what I thought was going to be a lighthearted conversation, and other things. There’s a great quote by Nabokov, "That trite little whimsy about characters getting out of hand; it is as old as the quills. My characters are galley slaves." Call me whimsical, then, because my characters are utterly free. Free to make choices, free to screw up, free to hesitate and fret and waver.

I only hope that makes them as realistic as I am.

 

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About Alix

Alix Bekins lives in the coastal mountains of Northern California with her partner and their dog. She’s been writing for as long as she can remember in a variety of genres, including fiction, erotica, poetry, and nonfiction and has even managed to get some of it published from time to time.

Sexuality is the cornerstone of her life and work and always has been, through two degrees and several life plans. Her work and writing focus on the themes of self-discovery and coming out, with a healthy dose of kink on the side.

Alix is pretty sure she’s the only person in the world who wears a plastic Viking helmet as a thinking cap when she battles writer’s block. She always wins.

Visit her blog at http://alix_bekins.livejournal.com.

 

Relationships 201

Author: Alix Bekins

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Genre: GLBT

Buy Link

Stephan Burke's relationship with Eric has hit a rough patch, and they can't seem to reconnect after their summer apart. Despite being good together, Stephan feels something undefinable is missing. Now starting grad school, he's meeting up with old friends who offer not-so-sage-advice, rediscovering how much time schoolwork consumes, and—Eric aside—crushing hard on the professor he works for.

Professor Jeffrey Tegan is new to campus and eager to befriend his TA. Jeff turns out to be almost everything Stephan has ever wanted in a man: he's smart, outdoorsy, likes music, and is smokin' hot. Only Jeff is just getting over his recent divorce, and Stephan has no reason to think Jeff is anything other than totally straight. He knows his crush on his professor is clich├ęd and ridiculous, but he's not fulfilled by what he has with Eric... Is it so unreasonable to want more?

Excerpt 1:

IT’S hard to connect with Eric. Stephan texts him the next afternoon, asking what he’s up to. When Eric calls back he says he’s fine, if busy, and maybe they can get together on Friday if Stephan’s free. Of course he’s free; why wouldn’t he be? Like he’d go off and make plans for the weekend without his boyfriend? But instead of letting his irritation out, Stephan takes a deep breath and suggests they get together for lunch or something before then; after all, it’s only Wednesday.

 

There’s a pause. “I want to, but I’m just kind of buried in homework,” Eric says.

 

“We could study together,” Stephan offers, suddenly thinking about sex.

 

Eric laughs. “Yeah, because that worked out so well last time.”

 

“Hey! I can behave. You were just all stretched out on my bed and moaning and licking your fingers and stuff. A man has needs, Eric.”

 

His boyfriend snorts. “I’m actually a man too, remember? I know all about your needs.” There’s a pause and then Eric suggests, “How about the library or Student Center or something? If we’re in public, you can’t grope me.”

 

“I thought you liked it when I groped you,” Stephan pouts, his tone suddenly a little more bitter than he meant to be, as he realizes that it’s been a long time since they had full-on sex.

 

Luckily, Eric seems to miss it. “I do, just not when I’m studying. So, Student Center? They have those awesome fries…. And we can make some plans for the weekend, if you want.”

 

There is either something really off in this conversation, or Stephan’s having PMS, or… something. It’s like their words match up, but Stephan feels like they’re having two different conversations, and he has no idea why. They make a date for tomorrow afternoon and hang up before he remembers that he was going to tell Eric about his drink-slash-dinner with Jeff tonight. Ah well. It’s not like it’s a big deal; he’ll tell Eric about it when he sees him.

 

THE pub is dim and reeks of a few decades’ worth of smoke, despite smoking in bars having been banned in California for a while now. Jeff’s got a stack of papers in front of him and a half-eaten ploughman’s lunch at his elbow. Stephan throws his messenger bag onto the opposite bench and slides in, accidentally kicking Jeff as their feet tangle for a moment. It takes Jeff’s eyes a second to focus on him, but Stephan just grins and grabs the beer menu, checking to see if they have his favorite microbrew.

 

“You’re going to order the most expensive beer they have, aren’t you?”

 

“Maybe. I hear professors make actual money, unlike starving grad students,” Stephan points out. “Ooh, they have the Seabright Blur. That’s seven dollars a bottle.”

 

“So you just want me for my money?” Jeff teases, pushing his papers to the side.

 

Stephan blinks. “Uh.” He has no idea how to answer that without saying anything incriminating, and he can feel his heart rate double, so he looks down at the menu and says, “Hey, they’ve got Arrogant Bastard.”

 

“No kidding.”

 

The waitress saunters over, and Stephan grins at her. “What’s the most expensive localish microbrew you’ve got on tap?” He winks at Jeff in response to the older man’s groan, and the girl giggles. She sets him up with an Anchor Steam from San Francisco, and Jeff has her bring a pitcher of it, along with food menus.

 

“So, Arrogant Bastard, huh? Guess you’ll be expecting me to pick up dinner too.” Jeff looks more amused than put-upon, fortunately, and Stephan’s not above someone taking pity on his financial state. After all, he picks up the tab most of the time when he goes out with Danielle—so she won’t have an excuse not to eat—and also Eric—or at least Stephan did when he was working and Eric was in school. Scott and Billy frequently get Steph’s tab when he’s a student. Everyone sort of takes turns buying, depending on who has a job at the moment. It all works out in the wash.

 

Apparently Jeff’s in the circle now too.

 

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it,” Stephan says, wiggling his eyebrows. The waitress helpfully brings over the beer as he says it, and she does a little wiggle that makes her boobs bounce as she smiles.

 

“God, you’re all so damn young,” Jeff groans, and downs over half his pint in one drink.

 

“Nah, you’re not old; you’re just tired,” Stephan argues. “Long day? What’re you working on?”

 

“Lecture notes, mostly. It’s been a while since I taught the intro classes, but you know how it is. New faculty get the ones no one else will take.” He shrugs. “And it’s kind of fun, actually, even if the freshmen seem to get younger every year. But I was given a syllabus and outline just a few days before classes started, so I’m playing catch-up for a while, figuring out what I’m gonna say.”

 

Stephan nods in sympathy, and they spend a while bitching about classes and how disorganized the university administration is and then get into talking about research projects they’re both interested in. The beer helps, as always, getting ideas flowing, and soon it feels easy and comfortable to be hanging out with Jeff, as if Stephan’s known him forever. At the same time, there’s a little… spark or something, a feeling Stephan is totally going to attribute to the liquor and his apparent inability to stay sober.

 

Laughing, Jeff offers a steadying hand when Stephan lists to the left as he gets out of the booth. He guides Stephan out to the street and offers him a ride home. The bus always sucks when you’re drunk, so Stephan accepts; besides, they’re going to the same place anyway. He can walk home from Professorland, no problem. The night air’ll be good for him, he proposes, and Jeff laughs again. Stephan likes the sound of it a lot.

 

The car window is cool where he rests his head against it, and Jeff’s got some quiet music playing. They’re not talking, but it’s comfortable. He really likes Jeff. Like, more than a crush, maybe, but that’s stupid because it’s just a friend-crush anyway, even though he’s attracted to Jeff. The guy’s straight, after all, and it’s okay to have a crushy-type-thing on a mentor-slash-friend. It’s fine, right? Everyone has random crushes. It’s a little embarrassing, but it’ll probably wear off as he gets to know Jeff better.

 

Jeff pulls up to Grad Student Housing, and when did they get here, anyway? Stephan was totally going to walk. For a fleeting moment after he unbuckles his seatbelt, he thinks about leaning over in the car and kissing Jeff goodnight, wondering what the scratch of Jeff’s stubble would feel like on his mouth, what Jeff’s mouth would taste like. Then he opens the door, and the cool night air is like a refreshing slap across the face reminding him that he’s an idiot.

 

Only idiots let crushes get out of hand when they already have a totally awesome boyfriend. Only idiots have stupid crushes on their straight professors. Only drunk idiots jerk off thinking about their new friend’s dick.

 

Stephan’s kind of an idiot sometimes.

 

© Alix Bekins

Read Entire first chapter HERE

Read my review - HERE

Alex has offered up an electronic copy of RELATIONSHIP 201 for one lucky commenter. See the rules below.

Giveaway Rules

  • To enter, leave a comment stating that you are entering the contest. Contest closes 12 midnight GMT, Sunday, December 19th. 

  • Winners will be selected by random number.

  • You must leave a valid email address to be eligible to enter

  • If the winner does not respond to my congratulations email within 48 hours, a new winner will be selected.

  • If you win, please respect the author’s intellectual property and don’t make copies of the ebook for anyone else.

  • This contest is open worldwide!

 

15 Speak To Me:

Blodeuedd on 17 December 2010 at 17:01 said...

Not entering, but so love the cover, cute :D

Kind of wish i was as lucky as you Eh and had a fairy e-reader godmother

Erotic Horizon on 17 December 2010 at 18:46 said...

@Bloduedd..

No one still haven't taken blame for that yet LOL - but I am enjoying it...

:)

Sandy Jay on 17 December 2010 at 22:10 said...

I'd love to win this. Thanks for the giveaway.

forwhlz at gmail dot com

Jason on 18 December 2010 at 00:56 said...

Count me in for this giveaway. :)

Thank you!
Jase
vslavetopassionv(at)aol(dot)com

Chris on 18 December 2010 at 01:57 said...

*waves hello*

Not entering - my TBR is fearsome already...

Lily on 18 December 2010 at 02:15 said...

Sounds interesting>

lilygcs @ comcast . net

Nikyta on 18 December 2010 at 04:13 said...

Count me in, please!! :D

-Nikyta
mercedes791@live.com

Carmel on 18 December 2010 at 11:48 said...

Please count me in for the giveaway - story sounds amazing!

fauthc@tpg.com.au

Barbara on 18 December 2010 at 13:09 said...

I really love the cover of this book :). Also, the story in itself sounds interesting and I'd love to read this title, so please count me in! :) And thank you for organizing the giveaway!

Barbara
himilika[at]hotmail[dot]com

PinkStuff28 on 18 December 2010 at 13:14 said...

Sounds pretty interesting.

Count me in !

raluk.93 at gmail (dot) com

melanie on 18 December 2010 at 18:54 said...

Please enter me in the contest.
melaniem54@msn.com

thanks.

melanie on 18 December 2010 at 18:54 said...

Please enter me in the contest.
melaniem54@msn.com

thanks.

Linda Jenkins on 18 December 2010 at 20:55 said...

Please enter me into the contest.

lj9871@gmail.com

Harper Bell on 18 December 2010 at 21:30 said...

Cute cover! Count me in for the contest. :)

harper_bell[at]hotmail[dot]com

Jace on 19 December 2010 at 00:15 said...

Please count me in.