Going for Gold – Tumbling Dreams released
My newest story, a 22K short story called Tumbling Dreams released tonight in the Olympics anthology Going For Gold from MLR press. You can find it at MLR Press books. ETA- a couple of errors when the book listing went up have now been fixed – I like how responsive MLR is, even at midnight.
Here’s the blurb for my story:
Gymnast Tyler Bannichek has a shot at his Olympic dreams. He’s fighting a recurring back injury, but playing hurt is part of high-level sports. He won’t let it hold him back. Even if his roommate Eli thinks he’s crazy, taking stupid risks for a moment’s glory.
Tyler has a plan: train through the pain, win Olympic gold, then come out of the closet and tell Eli he’s ready to be more than just friends. All he needs is hard work, a little luck, and a bit of damned patience from Eli…
I’ve put a brief excerpt below.
The other stories include: Hot Shots by Michael P. Thomas, Into the Deep by Nico Jaye, The Quad by Kelly Rand, Lightning in a Bottle by Sarah Madison, Swimming the Distance by Annabeth Albert, Shooting for Gold by Whitley Gray, and An Olympic Goal by K-lee Klein
Editor E.M. Lynley has experience with other anthologies and was great in shepherding us all to make the book happen.
All but one of these stories is between 10k and 23K and the total for the anthology is 117,000 words, so it’s a nice long one. I’ll let you know when it becomes available at other vendors like Amazon or All Romance ebooks. I hope you like it.
ETA – the book is now available from Amazon.
Eli Nelson held his cell phone a little farther from his ear, trying to divide his attention between the friend on the other end of the conversation and the TV across the room. On the screen, a blond gymnast in blue shorts and singlet was walking away from the camera. For a moment Eli’s attention was riveted. But after two years of rooming with Tyler, he figured he could recognize the guy in about a millisecond just from the way he moved, even on a small screen across the room. This blond guy didn’t have the build or the fluid grace. Not Tyler.
“…don’t you think?” Tom said over the phone.
“Sorry, I missed that.”
“The road trip. It’s going to be awesome. I still don’t get why you won’t come along. Just you and me, like after senior year. You don’t have a summer job, and I’ll cover the gas. We’d have a blast. I’ll even stop at the occasional gay bar so you can get laid, as long as you don’t tell me about it.”
Eli snorted. “Yeah, right. You in a gay bar.”
“If it would cheer you up.” Tom’s voice got quieter. “I swear, Eli, you’ve been so fucking quiet for months. Exams are long over. You need to get out and live a bit.”
“I will,” Eli promised absently, his eyes on the screen. The action had gone back to vault, but the dark-haired competitor was still not Tyler. Coverage of the Olympics gymnastics trials was bouncing between the events to follow the top competitors, and he was going to go nuts if Tyler wasn’t up soon.
“When? Look, come out with me tonight. We’ll have a few beers or catch a movie or something.”
“Why not? Dammit, you used to be fun. Is it that roommate of yours? Did he do something?”
“What?” That pulled his attention away from the screen. “Why the hell would you say that?”
“Because you used to talk about him a lot. Tyler this and Tyler that, until I figured you had a hell of a crush on the straight guy. And now you don’t mention him at all, so I thought maybe you had a fight, or he was hassling you about being gay or something. You know, he may have all those fucking gymnast muscles but I can still kick his ass if he’s not being cool about you.”
“It’s nothing like that. It has nothing to do with Tyler.”
“If you say so.” Tom sounded unconvinced. “Anyway, think about the road trip. I’ll be at Casey’s tonight if you want to hang out. Hell, you’ll probably get hit on, if you want that.”
Eli hesitated, and then saw the action on screen shift again. The camera played lovingly across the tightly-muscled form of a honey-blond young man in shorts, singlet, and those odd flat shoes. The announcer said, “Tyler Bannichek needs a better vault on this, his second attempt, to clinch his spot on the Olympic team…”
Eli said, “I’ll catch you later,” into the phone. Tom might have made some kind of reply but Eli had stopped listening, stopped doing anything except fixating on the image of his best friend, his roommate, the one man who could make him hurt all the way to his core. Tyler, with his amazing body and his storm-grey eyes, and his talent and courage and stupid, stupid ambition. Eli watched the way Tyler moved, looking for any hesitation, tightness, any sign of the pain Tyler lived with every day. But the way Tyler shook his arms out, stretched, and stepped up onto the runway was all power and grace. No evidence at all.
The entire length of these Olympic trials, Tyler had been amazing. Only once had there been any hitch. Just that one time, landing a triple dismount off the bars, Eli had seen Tyler take a big, big step. While the announcers talked about how Ty’s expression showed his anger at himself, Eli read that look very differently. That was Tyler hurting badly, and a little scared, after doing something that zapped him with pain.
Eli had watched intently as Tyler had held his finish pose an extra minute, before walking away from the floor. He thought maybe he was the only one in the world who saw that tiny jolt in the line of Tyler’s back as he took his first step. One flinch, and after that there had been nothing else to see.
Eli had watched the whole competition so far. Not that he would ever let Tyler know that. He always gave Tyler a hard time about paying extra money for cable with all those sports channels when his budget was tight, but secretly Eli was glad. When Tyler headed out for Tokyo or California, Eli quit pretending not to care. He just let himself watch every moment of Tyler that the screen would give him.
The announcer said, “There’s a lot riding on this vault.” Eli bit his lip, thinking that the guy had no idea how much.
On screen, Tyler signaled to the judges, then ran down the approach, perfect in his power and speed. Eli held his breath. Held it through Ty’s great punch off the springboard, the twist, the strength of Tyler’s push off the vault table, his double pike high in the air, and then the landing. Eli saw Tyler’s feet hit, stick, and Tyler’s back hold straight and still. He waited, waited through Tyler’s salute, and the excited babbling of the announcer, until he saw Tyler step away from the vault moving a little stiffly but without a limp. And then he let out that breath and clicked off the remote. Tyler had made it through safely, one more time. Eli didn’t want to hear his score, or think about what a great result might mean. He wasn’t going to listen to the news, wasn’t going to find out whether Tyler was now Olympics-bound with a month of even harder and riskier training ahead…