Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host author A.M. Leibowitz here to day on tour with their latest story Minuet. Welcome to STRW and thank you for the exclusive excerpt below.
A.M. Leibowitz has a new queer MMF romance out: “Minuet.”
When it comes to love, Mack Whitman prefers to limit it to writing songs and poetry. Aromantic, he’s content to have quality friendships and people who sometimes also share his bed. He’s never considered himself the jealous type. But when he sees everyone in his life, from his best friends to his occasional partners, moving toward more settled lives, it leaves him frustrated, disappointed, and worried he’ll be left behind.
Amelia Roberts doesn’t care about the genders of her partners as long as she follows her one rule: Don’t ever fall in love. It’s worked out well for her, since that’s a line she knows she’ll never cross with Mack. He’s as happy as she is to keep things as they are. The only trouble with her philosophy is that she didn’t count on meeting the one person who might change her mind.
Jomari O’Brien’s supportive family made it smooth for him to transition several years ago. Since then, he’s been in and out of love, and other people’s beds, plenty of times, and he has no regrets. Each one is a small part of a larger symphony. Becoming involved with two people at once is a more complicated harmony, but it’s one he’s willing to learn as long as they are.
Their individual melodies become discordant as they struggle to make them fit together. But if all three can learn to play with each other instead of against, they may yet hit all the right notes.
Minuet Unique Post #4 (Exclusive Excerpt)
Mack stuck it back on the bedside table. “We should probably talk.”
“Probably. Maybe should’ve before we had wild monkey sex.”
Mack chuckled. “You may be right.”
He scooted closer, and Jomari rolled so he was tucked against his side. Mack curled an arm around him. Jomari put out a finger and traced the ink on Mack’s right side where he could see it. There was a Celtic cross on his right pec, and his entire right arm was done to look like an electric guitar. Above the cross was a line of text. Jomari could only see part of it, but he knew what it said: Seeking something yet unfound though I have diligently sought it. He’d asked Mack about it the first time they’d been together, why he had that particular quote from Walt Whitman. Mack had been dismissive, saying they shared a last name. Jomari wondered if his answer would be different now they knew one another better.
Mack had ink on the other side, where Jomari couldn’t currently see it, though he knew what it was. Beneath where his cheek now rested, Mack had a heart made from the treble and bass clefs. In place of the dots on the bass clef symbol was a semicolon. The arm encircling Jomari’s shoulders was covered in flames, and Mack had an androgynous angel on the back of that shoulder. His other shoulder blade had a second Whitman quote: Every moment of light and dark is a miracle. Jomari idly wondered now whether Mack planned to get any more or if he felt the canvas of his body was complete.
“You love her, don’t you?” Mack’s voice was a hesitant murmur.
Jomari contemplated pretending he had no idea what Mack was talking about, but that wouldn’t solve anything. “Yeah.”
“In love, not the way I love her.”
“You tell her that?”
Jomari was caught by Mack, like every other person he’d spoken to about the subject. He sighed. “Not exactly. We had a date. I took her ice skating, and we—are you sure you’re okay with me telling you this?”
“I am.” Mack squeezed Jomari’s shoulders. “Go on.”
“We kissed, on the ice, right in front of everyone. After, I asked about going back to her place. I think she assumed I meant for sex, but I wanted to tell her in private how I feel about her. Instead, she told me she needed to slow things down. And then she left for England. She’s back, but she hasn’t called.”
He settled back down and returned to contemplating Mack’s tattoos. It was easier to focus on the letters and images than to allow himself to think about Amelia. Everything was so confusing. Before, he’d had the impression things were tense between Mack and Amelia because of him. Now Mack seemed to be trying to get them together.
Eventually, Mack pushed a little, and Jomari shifted off him. Mack turned over and propped himself on his elbow. He brushed Jomari’s bangs off his forehead, and tiny worry lines appeared around Mack’s eyes when he cupped Jomari’s cheek.
“I hope this wasn’t a bad idea.”
Jomari sat up and hugged his knees. “I told you that from the beginning.”
Mack sat up too. “You did. But I was thinking less with my brain and more with my dick at the time.” He nudged Jomari’s shoulder with his own.
“We both have things to tell Amelia.” Mack leaned his head on Jomari’s shoulder. “The two of you can give each other something I can’t.”
Mack lifted his head and turned slightly. He took Jomari’s face between his palms. “That’s not a bad thing. I see it now. I don’t know how it all fits together, and I’m…” His shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath. “I’m scared of losing you both. But she deserves this happiness without worrying for me. So do you.” He lowered Jomari’s head to kiss the top of it. “Tell her.”
About the Series:
When Trevor, Nate, Jamie, and Mack moved in together, they had no idea how it would change their lives. Four roommates. Four stories about living and loving in the City on a Hill.
A.M. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card AND the first three books in the series in eBook format as a single prize. For a chance to win, enter via Rafflecopter:
‘They paid for the groceries and headed for Mack’s van. Once they’d loaded it up, Mack went to start the van, but Trevor put a hand on his arm.
“I’m not letting you go home without talking about what the hell that was back there. You were really pissed off when you came to see me. You’re calm now, but if you go back home, you’re gonna get right back into that mess all over again.”
He was right, and Mack knew it. He turned over the engine. “Look, it’s freezing out here. I’ll drive you back, and I’ll explain on the way.”
Mack waited until they were out on the road to say, “It’s fucking weird, having both of them together. It’s not like it hasn’t happened before, but not like this. I don’t know. It felt like they were doing this bonding thing, and I wasn’t part of that.”
“I get it,” Trevor said.
“Do you? Because your family looks different.”
“What is it you wanted? To have Amelia to yourself? You’ve said she’s not your girlfriend. So why does it matter?”
“I don’t know!” But he did know. He had a very clear idea why it bothered him so much. Mack slammed his palm against the steering wheel. “She and I…we’re both fucking Jomari. We all know, but we’ve never hung out just the three of us.”
Trevor seemed to contemplate that. “Yeah, I’d say that’s different from my family. It really bothers you, huh?”
“Not that. It’s…” Mack didn’t know how to explain the way he’d seen the tender gestures between Amelia and Jomari. Sure, she would do the same for him, but it didn’t look or feel identical for some reason Mack couldn’t pinpoint. “I guess they’ve been getting to be closer since she started playing with Cian’s band.”
“Makes sense. Spending more time together. But you think there’s more going on?”
“I don’t know,” Mack admitted. “Up until now, I wouldn’t have thought so. She always said she was mostly into women. She doesn’t date men, and she made that clear to me. I didn’t care. But now here she is, and I can’t really tell what’s going on. She’s already cancelled plans with me so they could go out.”
“Ah.” Trevor was quiet a moment. “People change, you know. Until Andre, I thought I only loved Marlie and the couple times I fooled around with guys were, like, just sex. Then after Andre, I thought maybe Marlie was my exception and I mostly wanted guys. Now I’m not sure, but it doesn’t matter because this works for us. Jamie’s only into men, but I know he’s fucked women on camera and enjoyed it. He said Cian can’t separate love and sex, he’s got a high drive for both, and he doesn’t care about gender at all. Maybe Amelia’s needs have changed.”
It wasn’t only about whether or not her relationship with Jomari was changing. It was why. Why now, after years of things being the same? What made him different from everyone else? Mack hated the feeling she’d finally had enough and was choosing someone who might be able to give her what he couldn’t. But why would she have told him their kind of relationship was enough if it wasn’t? She knew who he was and that he made no apology for it. Was it like Trevor said, and she was changing, or had she been dishonest?
“Listen,” Trevor said as they pulled into his driveway. “Why don’t you invite Jomari for Thanksgiving?”
“It might be easier if it’s not the three of you having to figure this out alone, that’s all.” Trevor unbuckled, but he didn’t move. “Talk to them. The only way I made it work with Andre and Marlie is by telling them both the truth. And the only way I didn’t fuck it up with Jamie was by telling them I needed him in my life too.” He curled his fingers into a fist. “If only we could work that out.”
Mack didn’t reply. Jamie was still a sore spot for both of them. He helped Trevor unload the groceries and put things away. They had some time for him to think about inviting Jomari, but he wasn’t sure he was going to.
“Thanks for your help,” Trevor said. “Hey, you feeling better?”
“Maybe.” Mack accepted the Night Crawlers from Trevor. “I should get these to the others.”
Back in the van, Mack looked at the package on the passenger seat. For once, Trevor was right, but tonight he didn’t have the right words. Instead, he would bring the sour gummies as a peace offering and sit with them this time, even if it meant he had to watch confusing science fiction shows. He pulled out onto the road and headed for home.
A.M. Leibowitz is a queer spouse, parent, feminist, and book-lover falling somewhere on the Geek-Nerd Spectrum. They keep warm through the long, cold western New York winters by writing about life, relationships, hope, and happy-for-now endings.
Their published fiction includes several novels as well as a number of short works, and their stories have been included in multiple anthologies. They are an occasional host for Bi+Plus, a podcast for the bi+ community, as well as doing bi+ advocacy work and curating the best-of bi list on the QueerBooksForTeens website.
They are a social media contributor for Supposed Crimes, LLC, and they post about news, reviews, and updates. In between, they blog coffee-fueled, quirky commentary on faith, culture, books, chronic illness, and their family.
Author Website: http://amleibowitz.com
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