A Little Side of Geek (Geek Life #1) by Marguerite Labbe
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Marguerite Labbe here today talking about her new release, A Little Side Of Geek, one of our highly recommended stories. Welcome, Margie!
Hello everyone. It’s so good to be back at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. The books in my Geek Life series follow the people who make up the comic book convention scene. I could probably write a dozen more book in this setting. Years ago, when our son was still little, my husband Keir decided that he was going to stop dreaming of making comics and commit to actually doing so. We started small, getting a table here and there as he continued his job as a social worker.
My sweet man has a degenerative heart condition and after several years we talked it over and had him quit doing the social work. The stress was too much for him and he became a full-time comic book artist and awesome stay-at-home Dad. We had been doing conventions several times a year, suddenly that became at least one a month, sometimes more. He got involved with a group called Artway Alliance run by the amazingly dedicated Eric Suggs. That allowed him to teach comic book art in various schools in the DMV area.
The two of us always said that by the time our son became an adult he’d either hate this life or be as big of a geek as us. Many weekends he was hauled out of town, stuck at a table for hours on end, hanging out with more adults than kids. One year we lost him at Awesome Con. If you’ve ever been to one of the mega cons you have an idea of how huge they are. As I was frantically going up one end of the con to the other looking for him with security I kept reminding myself that he personally knew a number of the vendors. He’d be able to find someone within a hundred yards. When we did finally find him, he looked at us like what’s the big deal.
In my books, Morris has a friend with a son like that. When he has to take a break from the table for whatever reason Jaydon will come by and guard it for him. My son got into cosplaying at the cons and now he’s old enough to be a volunteer and help out behind the scenes. He’s even a member of our podcast Role with Us so I think it’s safe to say that he’ll be a mega-geek.
It’s a fun life. You meet so many really creative, fun people. It’s also so much work and being naturally introverted it is exhausting. You have to get there early, set up your space, be on all day long, and then break it down again. If it’s a multiple day show you usually go out to dinner with your crew. There’s traveling. And all kinds of things involved. It’s funny because at work everyone seems to think I’m spending the weekend partying and wonder why I’m tired on Monday. It’s super fun, but it is work.
I haven’t done an excerpt in a bit, so how about one with Morris as he’s preparing to head out to a convention and contemplating his relationship with Theo. I hope you enjoy.
Morris rose and flipped on the TV, scrolling through his movie options. He put on Big Trouble in Little China. That was entertaining background noise and a movie he’d seen so often it wouldn’t pull away his attention from his work, but it would keep him from feeling lonely. When it was over, he’d text Theo.
When Morris finally finished the last of what he wanted to get done, his hand trembled and throbbed, his eyes stung with strain, and his back ached with the knots Theo had promised would end up in his muscles, but all of his projects were done. He carefully tucked away the images of Chessie, then found sleeves for the dozen new trading cards he’d sketched, inked, and colored. It was always good to have new material on the table, the quick trading cards as well as the books.
He shook his hand as he rose and stretched up on his toes, and for a moment the room spun. Morris leaned against the wall as his stomach growled and he realized how thirsty he was too. How long had it been since he’d eaten or had anything to drink? In the background, the TV droned on with the next late-night movie option.
He made his way into the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of water, downing the entire thing in one go. Then he pulled out a box of crackers and a can of spray cheese and munched as he considered his mostly empty fridge. He really needed to hit the grocery store on Sunday. This was pathetic.
Morris opened his freezer, looking for something to pop in his microwave, and frowned. He hadn’t realized how much food Theo had given him over the months. Instead of processed potpies, there were homemade empanadas. No more crappy but fast burritos, instead there were neatly labeled single-portion casseroles and soups. It was amoral.
Somehow, despite the plan that this was just a fling, they were beginning to blend their lives together. Morris even had his second-favorite sketch pad upstairs tucked against Theo’s couch. Scowling, he dug through the freezer until he found a frozen pizza. Maybe it wouldn’t taste as good as one of Theo’s creations, but it was the principle of the matter.
Morris ate a few more crackers and cheese while the pizza baked, pondering the problem of Theo. Cassie came into the kitchen, pausing to stretch each hind leg before coming over to Morris. He scooped her up. “Why’d you let Daddy sit all day and not eat?”
She gave him her special patented look that said quite plainly he was an idiot. “Yeah, I know. I must’ve remembered to feed you, though, or you never would’ve let me alone.” He glanced at her food and water dishes and noted they were half-full. As long as no part of the bottom of the bowl was visible beneath the kibble, Cassie was happy. But let one glint of silver show, and she was convinced Morris was starving her.
She accepted his nuzzling attention for a whole three minutes before wiggling to be let down. Morris crouched down with a sigh. “Fine, walk out on me. That’s been happening a lot today.”
He glanced at the ceiling. He couldn’t remember hearing anyone move around up there, but then again, he’d been in the zone. Lincoln could’ve broken out his sax and Morris never would’ve known.
Restless, he looked in the freezer again. The cheese and crackers weren’t cutting it. He could heat up some of Theo’s tomato basil soup; that would be done before the pizza. He hesitated and then grabbed the carton. He was too hungry to be picky over principles. It was soup, not a life decision.
By the time he finished eating the soup, his stomach was happier and the pizza was steaming on the stovetop. Gooey cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and extra-thick crust. Maybe not as good as a fresh one from Ledo’s, but it would do. As Morris cut it, he couldn’t help but wonder what kind of a homemade pizza Theo would make. He bet it would be awesome, whatever it was, probably have eggplant on it and it would still be good.
Morris leaned against the counter and bit into his first slice. The roof of his mouth was instantly scalded and Morris dropped the slice, swearing as he reached for a paper towel to spit into.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Somehow, the pizza on the floor seemed like a perfect metaphor for the day.
His hand ached, his brain was short-circuiting, and he was not in a good place. Grumbling, Morris picked up the slice and tossed it into the trash, then wiped up the mess he’d made. He glared at the rest of the pizza, his appetite for junk food gone. He wanted something home-cooked and comforting. Despite getting his work done, his day had sucked. He’d been stressed and upset, replaying his argument with Theo every time he paused to think.
He missed Theo. Maybe it wasn’t too late to go upstairs and say hi. And maybe apologize. He wasn’t entirely sure why he was apologizing, because there was no way he could’ve gone off with Theo for the afternoon, but maybe he could’ve handled it better.
Morris glanced at his watch. 4:00 a.m. Yeah, definitely too late. Fuck.
He eyeballed the rest of the pizza and sighed, going back into his freezer. He was being an idiot for no reason. His stomach knew what it really wanted. Not long after, he was sitting down to hot spanakopita manicotti, yeast rolls, and a tall glass of sweet tea.
He was willingly eating spinach in the wee hours of the morning. If that didn’t say something for Theo’s influence over him, Morris didn’t know what did. But damn, it tasted good. Maybe a little change in his life wasn’t such a bad thing.
When opposite worlds collide, it’s anyone’s game.
Proud geek and comic book artist Morris Proctor wants nothing more than to live in semiseclusion with his devil cat and gamer friends. Despite what his well-meaning family thinks, he’s perfectly content with his status quo. The last thing he needs is to date another nongeek hell-bent on changing him.
Then he meets his adorkable new neighbor, Theo Boarman, who doesn’t know Star Trek from Star Wars, but who tempts him like no other.
Theo has spent the last year recovering from the loss of his parents and trying to play both roles for his teenage brother, while working to keep the family restaurant afloat. Dating is the last thing on the menu, especially with a man who thinks the height of dining is shoving a packaged meal into the microwave.
But if Morris gives him one more shy smile or flaunts that kilt he wears so well, Theo will be forced to convince him that a hot summer fling is just the recipe to let off a little steam.
When that fling gets serious fast, Morris has to decide if he’s willing to give his heart to Theo on the chance that they’re a perfect mix.
About the Author
Marguerite loves to spin tales that cross genre lines, where stubborn men build lifelong ties of loyalty, friendship, and family no matter the odds thrown against them, and where love is found in unexpected places. She has won the Rainbow Award for Historical Romance with Fae Sutherland, as well as the Rainbow Award for Paranormal and the Rainbow Romance Award for Excellence, also in Paranormal.When she’s not working hard on writing new stories, she spends her time reading novels of all genres, enjoying role-playing and tabletop games with her friends, and helping out her husband with Apocrypha Comics Studio.